Ellie Kemper stars alongside Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph in this blockbuster comedy, on Blu-ray and DVD today!
The smash hit Bridesmaids has arrived on Blu-ray and DVD. To celebrate, we caught up with one of the Bridesmaids herself, Ellie Kemper, who plays the innocent Disney World loving Becca in this raucous laugher. Below is our conversation, which spans this blockbuster comedy, her role as Erin on Season 8 of The Office, her role in the upcoming big screen adaptation of 21 Jump Street, and the possibility of a Bridesmaids 2.
Here's what she had to say.
How has the response been from last Thursday's Office Season 8 debut? I was a little bit surprised, myself...
Ellie Kemper: What were you surprised about?
Ed Helms took me completely off guard. I really didn't think that was the direction the show was headed. That came in from left field for some of us...
Ellie Kemper: That's right! Exactly. We keep them guessing. I went to an episode screening with the cast and crew, so of course, there, the response was positive, since everyone there made it. I have been reading online. I think it went over...Pretty well? I don't know. My family liked it. I keep forgetting that people didn't know Ed Helms was going to be the boss. We've been taping since July. Of course, people have only just seen it now. How do you feel? Are you happy about it?
I love Ed Helms. I thought the show was quite different in tone from previous seasons. It was fresh. Which is what you need when you reach the 8th season of any show.
Ellie Kemper: I agree with you. Having Ed Helms in there now? It changes the dynamics of it. In a great way, but in a way that is completely different.
And you have James Spader adding this heavy, ominous weight in the corner. It's easy to forget some of the truly evil dudes he's played, and that obviously lingers around Robert California. I just recently watched The New Kids, from way back in the 80s, where he plays this bleached blonde badass bully who is tormenting these new kids in town. He is so honestly scary in that. He throws a pit bull in his friend's face to save his own life!
Ellie Kemper: Oh, my gosh! I haven't seen that one yet...But I had the same experience with him. I just watched Sex, Lies, and Videotape a couple of months ago. Then I saw him the next day. I was like, "Oh, my gosh!" He is such an amazing actor.
He has such an imposing presence. It certainly gives this new season a very dark edge. It's gripping in a way the show has never been. His presence is uneasy for the audience.
Ellie Kemper: I completely agree. He has a fantastic energy that can't be explained.
How do you think Andy's new promotion is going to change or affect his relationship with Erin on the show?
Ellie Kemper: Without revealing too much, at the end of last season, Erin and Andy were not together. They tried to get back together, and their overtures were rejected. I think that in this new scenario, Andy is the boss. Erin is his direct assistant. Without revealing too much, I think we are going to focus more on Erin's independent life, as a workingwoman. It's so funny to me that Erin has had two boyfriends over the course of two seasons. That is a lot for anyone to have. Erin doesn't seem to be this overly romantic person to have had two. I hope that we are going to focus on different parts of Erin. Perhaps her orphan childhood. I don't know. I want to see that. I am not a writer. But I will suggest that. I want to know. I want to see a show where Erin goes back to one of her old foster homes. I am not laughing about the fact that she has lived in a foster home. But I do wonder how this woman was created. I would like to explore that. When we go to see Shrute Farms, it explains so much about Dwight. I would like for a similar thing to happen with Erin. Whenever you go to someone's parent's house, or their childhood town, you learn a lot about that person. I think it would be a lot of fun.
There were raves from the group of hairstylists I watched the show with. I know you went a little darker, but everyone thought your hair looked stunning...
Ellie Kemper: That is an enormous complement. I am going to tell the woman that does my hair that you said that. That is so nice of you. That makes me really happy!
I finally saw Bridesmaids on DVD, and I have a small complaint. There just isn't enough Becca in the movie! This DVD and Blu-ray release is stacked with extra features. Do we get to see more of your character in the deleted and extended scenes?
Ellie Kemper: We did shoot a lot of stuff that you didn't see in the theater. There is one scene that was cut out altogether, which gives some resolution to Rita and Becca's relationship. I haven't seen it. I just got the DVD, and I haven't been able to see everything that wasn't included in the original theatrical release. I do know that there are some extended scenes, and some lines, and parts of scenes that got cut out. I am also excited to see all of the actual scenes that were cut out. There is a whole storyline with Paul Rudd. It's a small storyline. He's one of the people that Kristen Wiig gets setup with on a date. Its one of the things I am excited to watch. He wasn't in the movie itself, but he is in some of these extra scenes that have been include on the DVD. And yes, there is a little more Rita and Becca in those deleted scenes. That will be exciting.
The way the relationship between Becca and Rita is resolved in the movie left everything open and ambiguous. I liked that idea. But I also wanted to see more of both characters, and I did want to know where their relationship was headed...
Ellie Kemper: I think the idea was that they were both seemingly unhappy in love at that point. In the film, they have this moment where they are drunk on a plane, and they kiss each other. But the scene that was left out resolved that. They figured their own situations out a little more. They are not actually lesbians that are in love with each other. But they are people that need to be more communicative in their own relationships. (Laughs) With their husbands and their fiances. I think there is an extended version when they are on the plane. We have a very long talk on the plane that was chopped down. I think that is included on the DVD now. You'll get to see the story fleshed out a little bit more.
See, that's disappointing to me. Near the end, at the wedding, there is a scene where Becca and Rita exchange glances. I like to think that they snuck off for some dirty business.
Ellie Kemper: On, no! All of your dreams will be crushed. It turns out that they are straight woman that are devoted to their companions.
Here is a slightly weird question that you haven't probably gotten before. It's a technical question. I want to know where this yellow restaurant is that served as the exterior for the restaurant that gives everyone food poisening...
Ellie Kemper: The one that makes us all sick? I am trying to remember where that scene was shot. I still have such a bad sense of Los Angeles geography. It was in the valley somewhere. Shoot. I cannot remember the actual restaurant's name. I'm sorry. I don't remember. But I do remember thinking, "Gross!"
At least we know that it was shot in Los Angeles. The movie takes place in Chicago, right?
Ellie Kemper: Yes. Everything was shot in Los Angeles. Except the exteriors of Chicago. Everything else was shot here. Yeah.
It was bothering me. I just feel as though I've been to that restaurant. And it is gross...
Ellie Kemper: Yeah. I do that too. Maybe you have been to that restaurant, because it was in Los Angeles. Maybe you had been there (laughs).
In terms of rehearsing Bridesmaids, you guys workshopped the script for a while before shooting. I think that shows in the incredible chemistry that is captured between all of you in the movie itself.
Ellie Kemper: I am so happy to hear you say that. I think workshopping this helped so much. Both on a story level, and on a personal level. It helped generate ideas about where this could go, and it helped us learn funny attributes about our characters. Improvising with a group of people can be scary. Getting past that, and knocking down those walls was very helpful in bonding the group. A bunch of those ladies, I thought, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Melissa McCarthy, had all preformed at the groundlings together. They had that playful quality, because they had all performed on stage together. Bringing that in, and having us all work shop together, helped build a team atmosphere. It also created some brilliant ideas. I remember being scared, thinking, "How am I ever going to keep up with these funny ladies?" Improv...Not to get artsy...But its all about helping each other. That was the greatest thing about that set. There was no competition. It was all about: How do we serve this scene? Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who wrote the movie, were so generous in making sure that everyone had a chance to shine. They made sure that everyone had a chance to say something funny. Like the shower at the beginning, where we go around and meet everyone. This is a perfect example of that. They wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to showcase themselves. Very generous ladies, they are.
When it comes to improvisation, I think people sometimes have a warped sense of what that is, or what it means on a movie set...
Ellie Kemper: Yes. I think when you are improvising a scene on stage, and you know you won't be able to do it again, and you are just creating a piece for that moment...That is totally different than when you are improvising on a set. That is more for the purpose of generating a funny idea. We find the moment, we say, "That is funny. Let's go back and do that same thing again." Improvisation can be different things. My experience is, which is not extensive, but when I am working in front of the camera, and there is some improvising, we look for things, and we throw it on the wall, to see if it sticks. If something sticks, we go back, and we do it again.
Before we run out of time, I want to talk to you about 21 Jump Street. I know you just wrapped on that after having shot in New Orleans. Can you tell us a little bit about your character in that film? You're playing a teacher, right?
Ellie Kemper: Yes. I love this character. Her name is Ms. Griggs. Becca, who I play in Bridesmaids, and Erin, who I play on The Office, are a little bit nutty in their own way. But this teacher is legitimately crazy. She gets a crush on a student that is played by Channing Tatum. Hello? Of course she is going to develop a crush on him. She is there to fill out the story a little bit. It was a lot of fun. She is a young, inspired teacher. She is very passionate about transforming young people's minds. But she loses it in the presence of this heartthrob. It's really fun to play.
Do you and Channing get to have a relationship in the movie, since he isn't really a high school student?
Ellie Kemper: I can't give anything away! There are some sparks. I'll say that.
What was it like to go back to high school? You haven't been away for long, but things are changing so fast nowadays. A teacher-student romance isn't even that frowned upon.
Ellie Kemper: I have been out of high school for a while. It is so weird. I can't imagine it. There is such an elevated level of teasing and bullying, now that there are these different digital contraptions with which to do it. We shot the film in New Orleans. You know how high school just has a high school smell? I love that. I walked in there, and it took me back, instantly. Its, like, damp library books. I don't know...And stale hot dogs from lunch. I love that smell. That brought me back right away. Of course, a lot of the actors in the movie were still in high school. I think a lot of them were from New Orleans. They were so young. They really make you feel old. A lot of time, on TV, the actors don't look like they are in high school. You forget that. When you meet someone that is actually in high school, you are like, "Oh, right. I am very old!" (Laughs) I forgot!
You can't be as old as Channing Tatum...
Ellie Kemper: I think we are the exact same age. But that is nice of you to say.
I actually don't know how old he is. But he's getting away with playing someone in high school. That is a little amazing to me...
Ellie Kemper: It is so funny. Seeing him next to these high school students...Jonah Hill, too. It is really funny...
After Superbad, Jonah Hill can spend the rest of his life in high school. I don't think anyone is going to be against that...
Ellie Kemper: That is true. He will forever look as though he should be in high school. Yes. He will remain frozen in time for all of us.
Are you involved in any of the film's elaborate stunt scenes? We talked to Jonah about the movie this summer, while it was shooting, and he explained that its as much an action movie as it is a comedy...
Ellie Kemper: I wish! I wasn't. Reading the script, I saw everything they got to do. There were these elaborate car chases, and stunts. I didn't get to do any of them. Because I wasn't involved in any of them. But I cannot wait to see them. The way these writers depicted these scenes? Its crazy. There are going to be car chases. It will be exciting. Yeah. You have to remember, 21 Jump Street, as a TV show...It was a drama. The scenes I shot for the movie? They weren't dramatic. I am excited to see how all of this comes together.
21 Jump Street, when I hear about it, reminds me of Class of 1984. They shot in Toronto and used local high school actor Mike Fox, who of course went onto become the famous actor we know today as Michael J. Fox. Shooting with some of the young, local New Orleans actors, did you see a next Michael J. Fox in the cast of 21 Jump Street?
Ellie Kemper: Again, my part...I didn't get to spend that much time on set. I am trying to think. There were so many guys that were in it. They shot all of these scenes together, and they really had a handle on it. Then I came in at the end. All of the guys I worked with were so funny. I didn't work enough with them. I want to make a prediction, and be proven right.
Is there any chance that we'll see Bridesmaids 2 in the future, or that the core cast will come together for a second project?
Ellie Kemper: I hope. I really, really hope that happens. I think that group of ladies is so unique. I feel so lucky to have worked with them. It would be a dream. Unfortunately, the call to make a sequel is not in my hands. I hope that whoever is in charge does decide, and we get to do it. Again, like I said, the whole spirit on set was just so generous, and really fun. I think it's a unique think to happen in moviemaking. Again, that was my experience. There were no egos, no divas, no nothing. My dream is to be involved in another movie with these ladies. But I have heard nothing. If you hear anything, please let me know.
So they never even played around with the idea of a sequel on set?
Ellie Kemper: No. It was just one step at a time when we were making that movie.
Bridesmaids is now available on Blu-ray and DVD!