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The upcoming comedy Bridesmaids should make a star out of lead actress and co-writer Kristen Wiig. But we’ve been fans of the very funny lady for a while now. So much so that we’d almost go as far as to say that you should watch Semi-Pro to catch her cameo as an ineffectual bear trainer. And here’s why...
1. SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Wiig has created a wealth of memorable characters on the legendary American sketch show including Target Lady, one half of the Two A-Holes, and Penelope, while her celebrity impressions are spot on. Our favourite is her Björk, who sang a soothing ballad to Iceland’s volcanoes and warned of the reindeer uprising of 2012 (“It’s coming!”)
2. KNOCKED UP
The first time that British viewers would likely have been exposed to Wiig’s talents was in her tiny but unforgettable role in Judd Apatow’s slacker sleeper hit. As Katherine Heigl’s passive-aggressive boss Jill, she threatened to steal the film with about three minutes of screen time. She’s freaked out by pregnancies. She doesn’t like liars. But she wants to be friends.
3. WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY
John C. Reilly’s stellar turn is probably what you’ll take away from your first viewing of Jake Kasdan’s criminally underrated musical comedy. But Wiig is also fantastic as Dewey’s hilariously fertile first wife Edith, playing from the age of 12 through to old age. She’s supportive (“You’re never gonna make it!”), passionate (“It’s about love, you piece of s***!”) and committed to her dreams (her candy house won’t melt if it never rains.)
Playing half of the husband-and-wife managers of the amusement park alongside SNL co-star Bill Hader (who is also one of the best things on the show), Wiig gave the lower-key performance of the two but was equally memorable. She looked genuinely sad when she informed Jesse Eisenberg that they didn’t have many giant pandas left, and didn’t even need to look up to throw Hader the baseball bat he needed to threaten troublemakers.
5. WHIP IT
Wiig went from mousy and murmuring to roller-derby badass Maggie Mayhem for Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut. The film is fun, if a little overrated, and Wiig nicely underplays her single mum/captain of the team character, making a rare role-model role still funny and a bit crazy.
6. TV - 30 ROCK/FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS/BORED TO DEATH
In between film roles and her SNL gig, Wiig has also had some great guest spots on some of our favourite TV comedies. She played actress Candace Van der Shark in 30 Rock, who played a woman who got into politics after being shot in the face by her neighbour’s dog. In Conchords she was Brahbrah, a weirdly named, lazy-eyed woman with blueberry tracksuit pants, white chocolate skin, and socks, who had lost her dog, and she also nabbed laughs as an alcoholic client of Jason Schwartzman in Bored to Death.
While Paul is arguably the weakest of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost collaborations, Wiig’s turn as evangelical Christian Ruth Buggs was an undeniable high point. The sheer joy she brings to the character as she learns about sex, aliens, and, most importantly, swearing is just fantastic. It’s so naively filthy that to repeat it here would require a lot of asterisks. Apart from “You bet your hairy love eggs!”
And that about takes us up to now. We can’t wait to see Wiig in Bridesmaids, out June 22nd.