April 25, 2011 — -- As a comedic mainstay of "Saturday Night Live," Kristen Wiig manages -- as so few can -- to pull off demure and down-and-dirty funny at the same time.
After smaller parts in movies like "MacGruber" and "Walk Hard", the 37-year-old Wiig is getting her first starring role in "Bridesmaids," an irreverent female-driven comedy in which she plays a maid of honor to fellow "SNL" alum Maya Rudolph's bride. "Bridesmaids," which Wiig also co-wrote, is slated for nationwide release May 13.
Wiig's character, a 30-ish single seeing her life spiral out of control, is driven to ever more inappropriate behavior by a glam, has-it-all frenemy.
As "Bridesmaids" wrapped in Los Angeles, "Nightline" got a behind-the-scenes view of Wiig's improvisational skills and knack for spontaneous humor.
Between scenes, Wiig joked about her star status: "[The crew] is shooting things, and I just walk through the background. Just to waste time."
But she also acknowledged feeling emotional about her first major film role. "It's a moment," she said.
For the past six years on "SNL," Wiig has offered up a garland of gloriously eccentric characters, from the perpetually treacherous Gilly to the overbearing Penelope. She's also garnered attention for her hilarious impressions of such TV divas as Kathie Lee Gifford, Julie Chen and Suze Orman, and politicians Nancy Pelosi and Michele Bachmann.
Along with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Wiig has been part of a wave of female cast members who have transformed the late-night comedy show's all-boys' club. Now it's time to see if the R-rated "Bridesmaids'" candid language and sometimes raunchy humor can put a new spin on chick-flick comedy.
The movie, produced by "Knocked Up" director and producer Judd Apatow, includes a veritable bedfest with Wiig and "Man Men" hearthrob Jon Hamm. Wiig wonders about her mother watching that one.
"She'll want to see Jon Hamm. She'll be looking at him not me," she said.
"Bridesmaids" even has Wiig appearing, discreetly and improvisationally, without clothes.
Wiig said she disrobed for the film without being asked to.
"If he asked me to do it, I would be like 'No,' but I like to surprise people," she deadpanned.
While living in Arizona in her 20s, Wiig said she had an epiphany about what her career path should be.
"I had been hired at a plastic surgeon's office to do graphic work for people, to show them what they would look like after their surgery," she said. "I just remember looking in the mirror and being like 'What are you doing?'"
It was then that she packed up her belongings and her cat and drove to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
"[I] didn't tell my parents," she said. "But they're happy now!"
A stint with the legendary Los Angeles improv company the Groundlings led to Wiig's 2005 arrival at "SNL." She offered "Nightline" a rare peek. The set, she said, feels like home.
"I get emotional when I think about when it will be over at some point," she said.
But even as "Bridesmaids" seems poised to make Wiig's mark in the movies, she said she doesn't have plans to wave good-bye to "SNL" anytime soon.
"I can't imagine the day when I'm not here," she said. "I love working here."