Rose Byrne Looks Back on Bridesmaids and Ahead to Going Beyond the Pines With Ryan Gosling
No one expected Paul Feig's summer comedy Bridesmaids to break the box office. But now that it has, the world has renewed hope for female comedies and a vested interested in Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne, whose haughty turn as Helen, the Bridesmaid From Hell, earned her heaps of critical praise.
In celebration of Bridesmaids' home release this week, Byrne took a break from filming The Place Beyond the Pines opposite Ryan Gosling and preparing for the fifth season of the legal drama Damages to phone Movieline. Among the subjects discussed: the real-life friend who inspired Byrne's bitchy Bridesmaids character, the summer of the R-rated comedy, sequels for Bridesmaids and X-Men: First Class and the reason why the 32-year-old Australian actress had no interest feigning digestive disturbances inside a bridal shop.
People are speculating that the box office success of Bridesmaids has completely changed the landscape for female comedies. But how has its success affected you and your career so far, if at all?
Well, I hope it means I can do more comedy. I'm on season five of Damages now. We start that in a few weeks, but I'd like to do more comedy after that. It's definitely changed my life, though, to be in a film that was embraced by so many people. That's something I haven't experienced before, and it was a real pleasure.
Have you noticed a sudden surge in the number of comedic roles you're being offered?
To be honest, I'm not even sure because I'm busy with the show. [Laughs] We'll wait and see. I hope so, though.
Your character Helen was so particular in some of her mannerisms that it almost seemed like you had based her on someone. After the film came out, did you have any similarly-mannered friends ask about your inspiration for Helen?
I had one girlfriend who saw the movie and she said, "That was me. Did you base your character on me?"
Had you based it on her?
Well, just the polished quality of Helen is based off of a girlfriend of mine. She was laughing about it though. She saw herself in Helen. She saw the polish and the very put-together quality that she has. That's something I had thought about.
Did you admit that it was based on her?
I did! [Laughs] It wasn't her personality though -- just her appearance.
I admire the ability to look polished all of the time. That's a good quality to have.
I admire it too! I wish I could always look like I had just gotten out of the salon.
In addition to being polished, your character was the most uptight of the bunch. Were you ever jealous that you did not get to participate in some of the wilder lady hijinks in the film?
I guess there were a few things, but it's funny: When you play a character, sometimes you don't think about that. Annie's scene in the car at the end of the movie was pretty funny. But I'm used to being the one who is looking at the person who is funny -- not being them. I was the straight man here, just watching the other people being funny and giving my reaction, which is part of the comedy too I guess.
So you weren't yearning to help out with the broader humor that took place, say, in the wedding parlor/stomach upset scene?
At that point, no. Not at all. I was relieved to not have to do that, because that took like four additional hours in hair and make-up. At the time, I was just trying to hold that conservative tension throughout the ridiculousness of it all.
Does comedy feel natural to you?
I think I've gotten more comfortable at it after Get Him to the Greek and Bridesmaids, but I still have a long way to go. It's something I had always aspired to do. I like laughing, and my favorite films are comedies. I would like to continue to get better at it. Comedy is frightening though. It's scarier to me, which is exciting, but I've been so lucky to work with the people I have. I'm spoiled really. From the beginning [with Bridesmaids], I couldn't believe my luck -- that I got to share the screen with Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph and Melissa and Wendy [McClendon-Covey]. I really couldn't. These are properly funny comedic women, and to be there, with them holding my hand throughout it, it was just really an honor.
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