Dave Grohl interviews Kristen wiig

Interview


During her six seasons on Saturday Night Live, the cast of indelible characters that Kristen Wiig has unleashed on the late-night viewing public have become iconic in an era when iconography is in short supply. This month she takes center stage with Bridesmaids, a comedy she created with her frequent writing partner (and Groundlings collaborator) Annie Mumolo. In between writing sessions for SNL, she took a break to speak with Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl. The two reminisced about bachelorette parties and wedding stories, raising hell, doing drugs, skipping school, and the enduring appeal of death metal and mix tapes.

Dave Grohl in an SNL skit

DAVE GROHL: You know, the Foo Fighters played on the first Saturday Night Live that you were ever on. How long ago was that?
KRISTEN WIIG: Iíve just about finished my sixth season. Isnít that crazy?
GROHL: Well, Iíve got to say that youíre probably the biggest crush of anyó
WIIG: What?!
GROHL: Especially with the rockers. For whatever reason, most rock íní roll dudes relate to you out of any other woman on the cast.
WIIG: I probably lived more of a rock-star life when I was 15. I got in trouble a fair amount. I cared more about hanging out and skipping school than studying. Which I am not recommending teenagers do if they read this.
GROHL: Stay in school. Stay away from drugs. All of those things you should not do, we did them, but we shouldnít have done them.
WIIG: I definitely ran with a pack of hoodlums, thatís for sure.
GROHL: Where did you grow up?
WIIG: I lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, until eighth grade, and then my high-school years were in Rochester, New York.
GROHL: You didnít have that Pennsylvania accent, did you?
WIIG: I do remember people telling me that I talked funny. When I moved to Rochester, I would always say, ďIím just joshing you.Ē Everyone was like, ďWhy are you saying that?Ē Iím like, ďI dunno, thatís how people talk where Iím from.Ē
GROHL: I was so happy when Bret Michaels got that big, popular TV show, because he has that Pennsylvania accent. [laughs]
WIIG: Oh, I watched all those!
GROHL: I have a soft spot for Bret Michaels in my heart. For the accent. Youíre really good at doing those sorts of things on SNL. How do you do that? Is it just your ear? Is there a process?
WIIG: I donít know. I think itís just listening.
GROHL: How can you do it so well? It freaks people out. When they hear it coming out of your face, itís a little fucking creepy.
WIIG: Thatís such a compliment that itís creepy.
GROHL: I have to say, I havenít seen Bridesmaids yet. But I want to know what inspired you to make this movie.
WIIG: In the beginning, it was about what it is really like to be in a wedding. But then it turned into, you know, youíre a woman in your thirties, and maybe you donít really know what you want to do with your life, but it seems like everyone else does, and your best friend gets married, and it forces you to look at yourself. I donít know if I described that in a very funny way.
GROHL: Are you drawing from personal experience?
WIIG: I think I have a lot of similarities to my character. Sheís involved with someone who is not really nice to her, and I think thatís something that a lot of women do for some reason or another. [laughs]
GROHL: Is that Jon Hamm?
WIIG: Yes, thatís Jon Hammís character.
GROHL: Is he super-snuggly and cozy, or what? Iíd imagine in real life, heís super-snuggly.
WIIG: Heís not really.
GROHL: His character on Mad Men is a little prickly . . . Maybe snuggly and prickly.
WIIG: A little bit. His character in the movie is the kind of person who gives mixed messages. ďI like you so much . . . Ooh, but I really want you to leave.Ē
GROHL: Well, heís a man.
WIIG: Yes. Exactly.
GROHL: Do you have any personal wedding horror stories? I have crazy wedding horror stories.
WIIG: I want to hear those.
GROHL: I mean, not crazy, but I got married in my backyard, so we found this person who married people, and we go to her house to talk about writing the vows, and the first thing she asks is if we want to do a Native American ceremony.
WIIG: And you said yes.
GROHL: Well, not really, because weíre not Native American. So we write up these really normal vows, and about a week before the wedding, she says, ďYou know, I donít want to impose, but my son is a huge fan. Is there any way that I could bring him to the wedding?Ē It was 250 people or something. I thought, why not? Weíve got tons of food, and it should be fine. So at our wedding, instead of having a DJ, we had this Beatles tribute band called The Fab Four. They do costume changes. They start at Ed Sullivan, and by the end, Lennon has a beard. It was nuts. They went through the whole Sgt. Pepper phase, and, at one point, I heard the intro to Sgt. Pepper, and I run into the tent where they were playing, and the kid was doing crazy Widespread Panic dances. That motherfucker took acid at my wedding!
WIIG: He didnít!
GROHL: I had to kick him out of my wedding while he was tripping, with the most awesome Beatles band ever right in your face. I mean, in a way heís right. It was probably the best trip heís ever had. But tripping by yourself is not...
WIIG: Thatís not a good idea.
GROHL: No, thatís not cool. You need a guide.
WIIG: You need a guide! Not that I know.
GROHL: So in this movie, there has to be some bachelorette-party action, correct? Iíve got to be correct.
WIIG: Maybe, maybe not. I donít know if I want to give it away. Thatís part of the story.
GROHL: Because I think that men have this idea that bachelorette parties are all about, ďOoh, sex toys and letís go see some Chippendales.Ē But I imagine bachelorette parties to be a little more hardcore than even a manís bachelor party, like six women with penis popsicles in a hotel lobby who want pictures and stuff.
WIIG: Thereís definitely a difference between girls seeing a stripper and guys seeing a stripper. When a male stripper comes into a room of girls, theyíre just laughing and screaming and giggling and embarrassed. Itís funny.
GROHL: Itís not a sexual thing at all?
WIIG: I guess for some women it might be. But no.
GROHL: So do women have bachelorette parties in hotel rooms where guys come over and dance alone in the middle of a bunch of ladies?
WIIG: Yes. They do. But the guy is usually in a cop uniform and says, ďOh, I have a warrant...Ē
GROHL: Oh, Officer Friendly.
WIIG: You know what I mean? Officer Friendly. Or, ďI work in the hotel and you ladies are being loud.Ē
GROHL: Fun. I was at a bachelor party once where the stripper came in and she had a broken leg.
WIIG: No! My friend was at a bachelorette party, and she said the male stripper had bruises all over his ass.
GROHL: When youíre working on a film with all of these people who are so brilliant and funnyócoming from a place like SNL or a place where improv is importantódo you let people go, or do you stick to whatís written?
WIIG: We definitely let people go. Especially working with Judd and Paul. Theyíre huge fans of improvisation. We usually did a few takes how it was written, plus we had a million outlines that were written beforehand that we wanted to try, and then we just let people go. I love when Iím on a set and a director lets me improvise a little bit.
GROHL: Itís a drag when you see funny people in movies who seem like theyíre locked into whatís been written for them.
WIIG: We tried not to do that. There are so many funny ladies in the movie, and plus, we know so many women from the Groundlings, and people who are so talented who havenít had the chance to do something like this.
GROHL: Is that where you started?
WIIG: Yeah. I saw a show there when Iíd first come out to L.A. Iíd never seen improv before. I didnít even know what it was. But I was like, Ahhh, thatís what I want to do. I love that.
GROHL: So your whole life you hadnít aspired to be the funniest person in the world?
WIIG: No, I didnít. I never considered myself to be funnyómaybe because socially I can be a little shy sometimes. I just didnít think that you could be both.
GROHL: Have you ever tried to do stand-up?
WIIG: No, I havenít.
GROHL: Is that terrifying to you?
WIIG: Definitely. I enjoy being characters rather than myself. If I had to get up and talk in front of a group of people just as myself, I would be terrified. I get a little anxious, I guess. But if Iím on stage in front of hundreds of people and I am a character doing a monologue, Iím totally fine.
GROHL: I would not imagine you to be like that at all.
WIIG: When I first started the show, I was still terrified to do Weekend Update because I never really did a lot of stuff by myself. It was usually in a group or in a sketch where youíre working off someone else. But after I started doing things on Update, I really started to like playing different characters. But I donít have that desire to go on as myself.
GROHL: How the fuck did you and Fred [Armisen] come up with that songwriting duo [Garth and Kat]?
WIIG: Weíd sing songs and try to sing the same thing. After a really long time of saying, ďYeah, we should write this,Ē one night we just wrote a stupid intro. Itís the most fun I have on the show, I swear, because itís so freeing, and we donít really do a lot of improvising on the live show, because of cameras, and cutting to different people, and cue cards and stuff.
GROHL: I was amazed the last time I was at the show. I got to be in one skit with Fred.
WIIG: Oh, thatís right!
GROHL: Iíve been on nine times, and Iíve watched every show weíve ever been on, but being in a skit has an entirely different energy to it. In the rehearsals, it just seemed like everyone in the cast was so confident that they could pull it off. I had never done it before, so of course I was nervous. I ran offstage from doing a [Them] Crooked Vultures song straight into wardrobe, and I had one-and-a-half minutes, and thereís someone tugging at my underwear, and I run out, and Iím standing there, and as they say, ďWeíre live,Ē Lorne [Michaels] leans over to me and says, ďThere have been some cuts to the skit.Ē
WIIG: Yeah, itís a well-oiled machine. And yes, sometimes youíre in sketches, and right before they say, ďWeíre going,Ē itís like you can see people pulling cue cards out of the stack because they have to cut lines. Knock on wood, there havenít been that many disasters.
GROHL: There was a Richie Sambora silence that I will never forget.
WIIG: Oh, yes! It was when [Jon] Bon Jovi was doing his monologue, right?
GROHL: Bon Jovi was the host, and we were the musical guest, and something must have gone wrong, because in rehearsals [Sambora] was two buttons down, and then in sound check he was three buttons, and by the time the show went live, I could see his navel.
WIIG: Is that a saying, ďtwo buttons down?Ē
GROHL: I just made it up. Does it make sense to you?
WIIG: No, I get it.
GROHL: They were almost pajamas. I donít know if he was lost in the lights or what happened, but I just remember the hallways, those five or six seconds. It was like hiding under a desk before a nuclear bomb blows up. Where the hell else is that going to happen?
WIIG: I know. When things like that happen, people backstage are grabbing each otherís arms, like, ďOh, no, whatís happening?Ē
GROHL: But youíre also so supportive of each other. Is it like The Partridge Family with you guys? Do you live in a cool, colorful bus together?
WIIG: I wish we did. I think Saturday Night Live has this horribly competitive, everyoneís-out-for-themselves reputation. But we genuinely find each other funny, and we happen to get along really, really well.
GROHL: What was your audition to get in?
WIIG: When I auditioned, they told me it had to be five minutes, and it couldnít be over five minutes. I took that literally and bought a stopwatch. I remember rehearsing in my hotel and making sure it was five minutes exactly, because I literally thought they were going to shut the lights off. I did the Target Lady. I did Aunt Linda, that movie critic lady. I did Megan Mullally.
GROHL: You stuffed all that into five minutes?
WIIG: I did, like, nine things.
GROHL: So they thought you were fucking crazy.
WIIG: Probably. Because I just thought, I have five minutesóI want to get in as much as I can. But then I had to audition a second time, and they wanted to see new stuff as well, and in my mind I was like, ďOh, shit. I did everything that I possibly could do.Ē So I just had to think of new stuff. It was terrifying. Because, again, I donít do stand-up, and it was really just me up there. To this day, itís probably top-three most nervous Iíve ever been in my life.
GROHL: All right, what are the other top two?
WIIG: I knew you were going to ask that. Probably my first show. I donít know what the other one would be. I just said ďtop threeĒ because it sounded good.
GROHL: Do you play any instruments?
WIIG: No.
GROHL: Youíd be a good drummer. The best drummers are the ones who play like theyíre just joking.
WIIG: So thatís why Iíd be good?
GROHL: Well, hereís the thing. As a drummer, my goal in life is to make people air-drum who have no idea how to play the drums. So, like, the drunk guy at the bar, listening to ďBack in Black,Ē air-drumming like crazyóthatís a good drum track. I have a lot of respect for the fancy-pants drummers, like Buddy Rich, [John] Bonham, and [Keith] Moon. But to me, you set up a song, and then you kind of hit the accent like itís a punch line, and it totally works. I think youíd be so good at it. And you can fuckiní dance, Kristen. Iíve watched you on TV. I know that you can dance.
WIIG: And you have to know how to dance to be a good drummer, right?
GROHL: I cannot dance. I can sort of fake dance. Actually, I tried breakdancing when I was a kid.
WIIG: Are you kidding?
GROHL: Yeah, but it was like in the middle of my punk rock phase, and I was kind of confused. I was listening to, like, satanic death metal, but I wanted to learn how to spin on my head. I donít know why.
WIIG: Do you listen to death metal now?
GROHL: Of course! Why not? Yeah!
WIIG: My boyfriend is into that right now.
GROHL: You imagine at some point in your life youíd grow out of silly phases like, I donít know, satanic death metal, and ďfuck you Ronald ReaganĒ punk rock music. But it never goes away.
WIIG: I went through a Dead Kennedys phase myself.
GROHL: Were you a punk rocker?
WIIG: I was all over the place. I went through every phase you could possibly imagine. I went through a Grateful Dead phase.
GROHL: You were a Deadhead?
WIIG: For a little bit, I must admit. It was one of those things where everyone in my high school was getting into it. I didnít own a lot of the music, but I would go to the shows.
GROHL: Now, did you go to the show, or did you just hang out in the parking lot?
WIIG: Oh, no. I went.
GROHL: I couldnít do it. Itís like country music on acid. Hey, maybe Iíll send you a mix tape. Do you have a cassette player still?
WIIG: I would buy one. But I donít even know if they make them anymore.
GROHL: I want to make a mix tape, glue it in a cassette player, and just give you the cassette player.
WIIG: And Iím going to take the tape of this interview and remix it to some funky beats.