Rebel Wilson explains how she got Bridesmaids role despite auditioning for different character

Virgin Radio

1 May 2024, 11:14

Rebel Wilson talks to Chris Evans at Virgin Radio.

Credit: Virgin Radio

Rebel Wilson spoke to Chris Evans about how she could have ended up playing a different role in classic comedy Bridesmaids.

The award-winning actor, comedian, producer and director joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar following the release of her debut memoir, Rebel Rising, when talk turned to her breakthrough role. 

Rebel played Brynn, the sister of Matt Lucas' character, in 2011’s Bridesmaids. Speaking about her route to Hollywood from her homeland of Australia, she said: “I come over, I'm sleeping on a friend's couch for $100 a week. And on my second day, I get signed by the biggest agency, called William Morris Endeavor. I walk in the door and they hadn't seen anyone like me, there weren't many plus size actresses. And also, because I wrote and produced as well, so there wasn't anybody like me. And my friend had told me, ‘If you go to America, you’ve got to sell yourself.’" 

She continued: “I walked in, and I’m like, ‘I'm like the female Jonah Hill, and I'm here to crush it.’ That was my short pitch, because you can't just go to America and say, ‘I'm great at everything.’ You’ve got to kind of pigeonhole yourself. So I did, and Jonah Hill had been in these Judd Apatow movies. And then, lo and behold, the first job I get is in a Judd Apatow movie directed by Paul Feig, called Bridesmaids.”

Rebel then told Chris that she didn’t try out for the role of Brynn. Indeed, that character didn’t even exist at the time. “I auditioned for the Melissa McCarthy role. And I was kind of like the alternative choice, because they weren't sure if they were going to cast Melissa because she's not the huge, massive star that she is today. And so I went in, and Kristen Wiig’s there, and they're like, ‘Okay, just improvise that you're at a wedding. Your bridesmaids together, just go.’ 

“It was just this full-on thing. And they kept it going for an hour. And I was like, ‘I think this audition is going well.’ And then I get a call the next day saying, ‘You've got it!’ And I went, ‘What?’ I thought, ‘No, I’m just new to America and that role was insane.’ And they go, ‘Well, not the role you auditioned for. That is gonna go to Melissa McCarthy. But we actually think you look a bit like Matt Lucas. And so we're just going to add you in and you can play his sister in the film.’ And then that's how I got in the movie.”

Whilst the comedy - also starring Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper and Chris O'Dowd -   would go on to become one of the most popular comedies of recent years, success was far from instant, as Rebel explained. “It’s always about a year,” she said. “So, for example, now I know I've got three movies coming up, because I've already shot them, that you guys will see in like 12 months time. So that year when I'd filmed Bridesmaids, but nobody in the world had seen it yet. I thought, ‘Okay, I think this is going to be amazing.’ But I had to wait a whole year, and then I only had about $60 a week to live on for that whole year. It was pretty lonely.”

Explaining that she spent her time going on hikes and to the cinema and “a year patiently waiting to think, ‘If this movie is great, I might have a career in America. If it's not, I'll go back and maybe become a lawyer.’”

She added: “Gambling was in my family, and this was a gamble, to sell everything I own and move to Hollywood. My life savings. It was a huge gamble. And it could have backfired.”

Finally, the film hit cinemas. Rebel told Chris: “The premiere comes up and then you kind of have to pay thousands of dollars to go to the premiere, to get an outfit and everything, so I really lost money doing Bridesmaids. And then I get in there, and then wow, the laughter at the premiere, I was just like, ‘Okay, this movie is going to be great.’ 

“And then all of a sudden, I booked six movies in the two weeks from the release of Bridesmaids, one of which is the movie Pitch Perfect, which is, you know, just my personal favourite, really, of all the movies that I've done.”

Read what Rebel had to say about a "beautiful experience" with Robin Williams, and an "oh my gosh" moment with Barbra Streisand here.

Rebel Rising is out now. 

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.