Ellie Kemper has seen her improv training pay off on several fronts lately. From her starring turn as the “new” receptionist on The Office to her scene-stealing role in Bridesmaids opposite the queens of comedy, circa 2011, Ellie Kemper is ready for her cinematic comedy close-up.
It’s almost 1:30 in the morning and on the northern Los Angeles set of Bridesmaids, Ellie Kemper walks into our interview room dressed to the nines in her pink bridesmaid dress. She looks cute, although she seems a tad embarrassed by all the pink!
Checking in with Bridesmaids’ Ellie Kemper
SheKnows: You’re looking nice in your pink bridesmaid dress! Which bridesmaid do you play?
Ellie Kemper: I am Becca and I am Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph, the bride) co-worker — so that’s how I’m attached to her. I’m a newlywed who seems happily married. Then, you learn that her marriage isn’t as perfect as she thinks it is.
SheKnows: You’re fully versed in improv, having worked on The Office. I’m sure there’s a lot of improv on the Bridesmaids set as well. How comfortable are you with it?
Ellie Kemper: It’s so cool. This is my first movie that I’ve had a substantial role in and it’s awesome that this happens to be the first one where there has been so much room and encouragement to improvise. Every scene is written beautifully but we are told to have a go at it. Now, on The Office, I don’t really improvise that much — being that I’m brand new. I think a stellar improviser on the cast is certainly Steve Carell [laughs]. He has more opportunity and demand to improvise, but I get a lot of opportunity to do it. I just hold back a little bit. Here on the set of Bridesmaids, all of these ladies trained at LA’s Groundlings and I didn’t. I didn’t do Groundlings but I did Quipfire (Princeton University’s improv group)!
Bridesmaids brings the funny!
SheKnows: Paul Feig, the Bridesmaids director, is a guy with a really clear voice, whether it’s a show he’s created such as Freaks and Geeks or The Office — which he directed. How is this ensemble to work with and how does Paul steer this energy on set?
Ellie Kemper: First of all, he looks cute every day wearing a suit. Most directors don’t dress up [laughs]. When he directed The Office, I wondered, “Who is this well-dressed guy?” That’s the exception in comedy, especially. I have never seen him frazzled. He is always smiling at every stupid joke I make. He laughs along with it. He’s calm and in control. It’s soothing to have that on any set, movies or TV.
SheKnows: Paul told us that he especially appreciates working with actresses. Have you noticed that?
Ellie Kemper: How interesting! That’s nice. That works out well for him with a cast full of Bridesmaids [laughs].
SheKnows: I’d like to know, if you were going to a bachelorette party, what would be your ideal bachelorette party?
Ellie Kemper: Oh my gosh. I hate bachelorette parties [laughs]. I should keep my mouth shut because I’ve been a bridesmaid many times. I’ve attended a fair number of bachelorette parties. I think making someone fly across the country to celebrate you is weird. I’ve done that more than once. Well, my ideal bachelorette party would be whoever is in town the day before the wedding, maybe go out and have a nice dinner or maybe get some massages. I think my ideal bachelorette party would be no bachelorette party [laughs].
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SheKnows: Do you have any bachelorette party horror stories?
Ellie Kemper: Yes! I was a maid of honor for my friend. So, I felt like, “Oh God, I’m responsible for all the bridesmaids. I don’t know what to do.” I didn’t know any of them [laughs]. We went to Las Vegas, classic right? So, I got all these thongs made up that said, “2005 Toast Michelle.” Michelle was the bride. I didn’t know any of these girls and I thought, “Whoo-hoo, isn’t this crazy?” I don’t know what I thought [laughs]. They all looked at me like I was this huge pervert [laughs]. I felt like they all thought I wanted to see them in it. It was so embarrassing.
SheKnows: Lastly, what scene on Bridesmaids was the most fun to shoot?
Ellie Kemper: There’s a scene where we’re trying on bridesmaids gowns where everyone sort of gets a little sick [laughs]. It actually like got a little crude. I’m afraid of revealing too much but there’s a lot of physical comedy. I don’t want to tell you anymore and ruin it [laughs].