By Fred Topel
Moviegoers can’t seem to get enough of Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, Bridesmaids), and now she’s heading to the small screen as the creator, co-executive producer and star of Super Fun Night. Premiering on ABC on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 9:30pm, the new comedy series centers around three BFFs/roomies – Wilson, Liza Lapira, and Lauren Ash – who decide to venture outside of their comfort zones and expand their social lives (and maybe even date).
At the 2013 summer Television Critics Association, Wilson provided a peek behind the scenes at how the show came about and what those who tune in can expect from the half-hour comedy.
Rebel Wilson Super Fun Night Interview
Does the series include scenes that are based on your own experiences?
Rebel Wilson: “Yeah. I mean, the original concept of the show is I used to do this thing with my sister Liberty called ‘Friday Night Fun Night,’ which was basically she worked at a candy factory at the time, and she would just bring home the off-cuts from the candy factory. We’d sit at home just on the couch eating and watching DVDs. I started to think maybe there’s more fun than this, even though at that time I did think that was really fun. And so I kind of strategically tried to go out into the world and force myself into these social situations, and then that’s where all the true stories come from in the show.”
There’s a scene in which a bouncer uses the term “eye broccoli”. Where did that come from?
Rebel Wilson: “I said, ‘What’s the opposite of eye candy?’ because I love candy and it’s broccoli. So I just thought the bouncer of the club turns us away because, he says, ‘We can’t have eye broccoli hogging up the line.'”
How did you grow the bond with your co-stars to make the friendship feel believable?
Rebel Wilson: “We did that thing on the first day where we had to get naked and jump around. That was John [Riggi]’s idea.
Lauren and I went to the baseball the other day because I’d never been to see a professional match. […]It was a hundred degree heat. We got given free T-Shirts so we kind of put them on our heads to protect ourselves. I drank two things of soda that were that big each, and then we’re like sitting there in direct sunlight for two hours. And then we tried to stand up, and I almost spewed because I got sunstroke.”
Was it your idea to do an American accent? People find your real accent adorable.
Rebel Wilson: [Laughing] “Really? [In an American accent] I mean, my American accent is really, really good. I started out in the theater as an actress doing all different characters of all different accents and, really, when I first came to America, was doing movies, I thought I would be playing American all the time. It was just weird how it worked out that I played more international characters and Australian a lot. So when I had the opportunity to do this TV show in America, the concept was three girls who lived in Manhattan who had known each other since they were 13, 14 years of age so I just really thought that I had to make this character American.”
Given that the girls are pretty geeky, are Star Trek and Star Wars and all of that something that you enjoy referencing? After the pilot episode, will we see those references in future episodes?
Rebel Wilson: “Well, we actually created a fake show within the show called Murna Princess Warrior that we’re – all of our characters – are fans of and that you’ll see more in the show, which is a sci-fi starring a female warrior-type character. And, yeah, there is a bit of geekdom and certainly I think Kevin [Bishop]’s character, even though he’s very cute, that he does have that little geeky side.”
What’s the balance between diffusing some things that might be cruel that are sent in your direction and avoiding making the character so sort of trod upon that it’s difficult to have fun with her?
Rebel Wilson: [Executive Producer John] Riggi and I have been in the writers’ room now for how long? Six or seven weeks. I’m always pitching the saddest storylines, like, where I get punched in the face. But the purpose of the show to me is to really inspire girls who don’t think they’re cool and popular or pretty and all that, to get out there and that they can have fun and exciting lives too. And so I think in order to do that, you need to present a very realistic version of what it’s like to be a girl who looks like me and is not the coolest. And that often involves, you know, Kimmie gets broken up with by one dude because he says, ‘You’re too fat. I don’t like it anymore,’ and stuff like that. So there is some very sad storylines coming down the pipe, but I think we have to present that so that and then we present the wins for my character, which are awesome. It’s far more gratifying, I think.”
In a town like Hollywood where you’re never perfect enough no matter what you do or what you say, can you talk a little bit about your journey in this town and still being where you are right now with the confidence and the self-awareness that you have?
Rebel Wilson: “Okay, my agents are here today and I think when I first came to America and the second day here, I went into William Morris Endeavor and I had a meeting and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m from Australia and I do comedy and stuff.’ And I think that one of the reasons they signed me is because I wasn’t like any other girl here. I don’t know why that is. Maybe girls don’t get encouraged. The ones who get encouraged to move to Hollywood are like they’re the prettiest ones in their hometown of Iowa or something and they get encouraged to move here. Whereas me, where I come from in the western suburbs of Sydney, no one ever thought professional actors would come from there. Even my own family was like, ‘No one would want you on a show,’ and so I came here. But then what I found is that even though it was hard to get that first job and I was going into auditions for really big directors and, I think, nailing it – I think crushing it, being brilliant – but nobody was willing to cast me until the geniuses of Judd Apatow and Paul Feig. I was in there just improvising so hard that they couldn’t ignore it. And I didn’t get the role that I went for, which was the role that Melissa McCarthy got, but they just liked me so much that they added me in. It took people who have the power to say yes to pull the trigger for me here in America. And since then I think it’s been easier because I’m not like anybody else out there, really, with my skills and abilities and looks. And so now I think it’s easier because I’m more distinctive.”
It seems like a single-cam series gives you a lot more leeway to improvise when you’re not in front of a studio audience. How much of the pilot and how much going forward do you feel like is just improvising?
Rebel Wilson: “Usually, movies, my stuff is, like, 80% improvised. I think in the pilot, because pilots go through such development, it was about only about 20% improvised. But I deliberately chose a cast, like, Lauren’s from Second City. Kev’s had such a vast improv. And then, Lisa, nothing. [Laughing] No improv experience, but she looks good.
And then our replacement nemesis coming in is a very good friend of mine, Kate Jenkinson from Australia, and we improvise a lot – if you ever check out the Australian series Thank God You’re Here which is 100% improvised. We were on a sketch show together, Kate and I and Jason Gann who does Wilfred, so we’ve been improvising together for years and years. I really wanted to bring what I do in the movies into TV, that really spontaneous, improvised stuff, so every single scene we’ll also be doing improvised versions.”
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