Kristen Wiig joins forces with co-star Bill Hader for comedy drama ‘The Skeleton Twins’ out now on DVD. In the film, the former ‘Saturday Night Live’ star who broke through with ‘Bridesmaids’ in 2011, must reunite with her estranged brother after a strange coincidence forces them back together.
Q. What specifically appealed to you about the script and the character of Maggie?
A. It’s hard to pick out the specifics; it’s just one of those things where you’re reading it and you just get a feeling. I had that feeling from the moment I started it. [And] I don’t often get to play – or even read – characters like Maggie. She’s very interesting and different and…I think she goes through a lot of things people go through. And I liked the way [co-writers Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman] told her story.
Q. The past few years, you’ve done more dramatic and seriocomic work in films like ‘Girl Most Likely’ (2012) and ‘Hateship, Loveship’ (2013), while your costar Bill Hader makes what is essentially his dramatic acting debut with this movie. Back when you were working together on ‘Saturday Night Live’, did you sense he had this kind of performance in him?
A. Oh, absolutely. He’s an incredible actor. Sketch comedy is fun and sometimes silly but it’s also hard and Bill is an expert. His expressions and characters and his commitment – he’s always in it. But when he was doing a [sketch comedy] part that was a little more dramatic, I could absolutely imagine him doing something like this. And he’s so good in this movie. That’s the first thing I said after I saw it.
Q. The script for ‘The Skeleton Twins’ won Best Screenplay at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, so obviously you were starting out with a great piece of written material. But how much was Craig open to letting you and Bill break from the script and improvise?
A. We didn’t really improvise that much but it wasn’t [because of] Craig not allowing it. We just didn’t really have the urge because the script itself was so good. I think people assume because you do comedy or you’ve improvised in other movies that that’s sort of your thing and you always want to improvise and that’s not really the case. This movie was just written so well. And we didn’t have a lot of time and the budget was so low that…we couldn’t really afford to just improvise and have fun for hours and hours [laughs].
Q. Did you have a rehearsal period before production?
A. No. We kind of just read through it and talked about things but we didn’t really rehearse. I personally am not a big rehearser. Is that a word?
Q. We can make it one…
A. I’ll make it one. “Rehearser.” [Laughs] Yeah, for me, personally, I just find that it loses a little bit of its life when I rehearse too much and I start thinking about it too much.
Q. Luke Wilson portrays your on-screen husband as this kind of sweet, puppy-dog of a guy. What was it like working with him?
A. He’s amazing. He’s kind of what you think he would be: he’s very fun and professional and sweet. When we did have chances to add lines, his always made Bill and I laugh very hard.
Q. You have a more dramatic and intense dynamic on screen with Joanna Gleason, who plays your New Age-y, emotionally distant mother. What was it like doing those more volatile scenes with her and did you have a chance to hug it out in between takes?
A. We kind of had to hug it out, especially because there were a lot of heavy scenes on that day and I remember being emotionally exhausted at the end. But you do have to hug it out because my character says some really awful things to her and…even though you’re acting, you’re still saying those words out loud to another person’s face and looking in their eyes and sometimes it can mess up your head a little bit.
Q. ‘The Skeleton Twins’ strikes a unique balance between the humorous and the serious. During production, were there any moments you had to rein in either the comedy or the drama?
A. A lot of that was [writer/director] Craig [Johnson]. He would tell us the tone of everything and…if he wanted to do a lighter take or something more grounded, we would do that. But mostly it was Craig and the editors picking the right stuff to give it the tone that it has.
Q. You share some sexy scenes with Boyd Holbrook, who plays your hunky scuba instructor. Were those scenes fun to shoot or awkward or…sexy?
A. It’s work. You show up on set doing what you would do in any other scene, [asking] “How do we do this?” or, “Do you want us to stand here?” or, “Should I do this?” People always talk about how it’s very mechanical and there are a lot of people watching and yeah, it’s not as sexy as you would think it is. [Laughs] It’s just part of the job.
Q. The “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” lip-sync scene is many people’s favorite in the movie. What was it like rehearsing and shooting that already beloved movie moment?
A. We really didn’t rehearse that scene too much. We just kind of discussed where we were going to be and…didn’t really run through it that much. Again, we really didn’t have the luxury of time or money so it was done pretty quickly. But, yeah, it was really fun and nice to have that vibe on set considering that some of the other scenes were really heavy. And it was nice to be able to just dance around with my friend.
Q. Were you already a fan of that song?
A. Yes. I mean, I definitely had to listen to it again but that’s a song I know very well [laughs].
Q. The past few years, you’ve done a series of interesting roles in more indie, dramatic films. I’m just wondering if, after the success of Bridesmaids (2011), you intentionally tried to move away from that sort of broad comedy?
A. I did want to do more dramatic stuff. But it’s also a combination of getting things and reading them and…when you shoot them and when they come out. I mean, I could shoot two comedies and then one drama and the drama comes out first and everyone thinks I’m only doing drama. It’s so out of your control. For me, even as a moviegoer, I gravitate toward movies that have both drama and comedy. And I do watch a lot of smaller movies. But that’s not to say I don’t watch studio movies, too, because they’re also great.
‘The Skeleton Twins’ is available on DVD now. Watch the trailer below…