Comedienne Kristen Wiig, who’s known for her genius work on Saturday Night Live and in Bridesmaids, plays Special Agent Lucy Wilde, Gru’s (Steve Carell) new partner in the comedy adventure sequel, Despicable Me 2. A cunning secret agent, she teams up with Gru to hunt down a dangerous super-villain and loves one-upping Gru with her quirky gadgets and mixed martial arts. Unlike Gru, she has trouble containing hera natural exuberance, which works against her when going undercover, but attracts Gru’s attention and sparks a romance between them. Opening July 3rd, the film also features Benjamin Bratt, Russell Brand and Ken Jeong.
At the film’s recent press day, Wiig talked about why she loved doing the movie and had fun playing her character, how her comedic background helped her in the animation booth, why voicing an animated character is the next best thing to doing SNL, why she doesn’t think she’d make a good secret agent in real life, why the Minions are her favorite characters, how Pharrell’s music set a great tone for the film, which comedians influenced her growing up, and her upcoming movies: Anchorman 2, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Girl Most Likely, Hateship, Loveship, and The Skeleton Twins. Hit the jump to read the interview:
Question: What was the most attractive thing to you about the Lucy character? What made you go “I totally love this person”?
Kristen Wiig: After doing and seeing the first one and loving the movie, when they asked me to be a part of the second one, I just said yes. I don’t think I even knew much about the character. I knew they wanted to make her very enthusiastic and that’s an understatement. She has a lot of energy, because she has to be able to bring Gru back, and at the same time, have the personality that he would be attracted to. I have never played anyone like that before so it was fun.
Do you think you’d be a good secret agent in real life?
Wiig: No. I can’t tell a lie. I wouldn’t be able to. I’d just be like, “Hi. I’m spying on you. I’m on a mission. I’m sorry. That’s going to be me over there in the car with the binoculars.” I would be really bad, not good. And I don’t like guns or anything so I would just throw things.
You’ve played characters that have had bigger problems with romance than this one, but she’s still a little romantically impaired. Where do you fall on the scale?
Steve Carell was telling us how he really related to Gru’s fear of talking to women.
Wiig: Of course, in the beginning of any relationship, you always feel a little awkward, and you’re nervous because you’re meeting someone for the first time. I don’t know how I would rate myself.
Lucy looked like she lacked the confidence to reveal how she felt.
Wiig: Yes, and she’s also super into her job. That maybe was her priority until she met Gru. She opened something in him, and he did the same thing for her.
In the first film, you played Miss Hattie, and in the sequel, you play Lucy who’s a different character. Was it a different experience for you working on the first film than the second one?
Wiig: Yes, the first one was, and the characters are also polar opposites in attitude and how they look. Miss Hattie was basically a ball with hair and Lucy is extremely tall and stork-like. When they asked me to do the second one, I was so excited. I knew they were making a second one, and I figured my character probably wouldn’t be in it, because she was at the adoption agency and he has the kids now. But then, they asked me to do this other one, so it worked out. I was very lucky.
You and Steve both have sketch comedy experience and come from that background. I know they allow ad-libbing a little more for live action, but with animation the budget and time schedule are different. Was there room for it in this film?
Wiig: I would read the script as written, and the script was great. And then, I would try it a bunch of different ways. They would need me to try it a bunch of different ways for editing purposes. A lot of times, they would just say, “Okay, now go crazy or have your take on it.” It was a mix, but it was mostly by the script.
Did any of the ad-libs make it in?
Wiig: Yes, but I can’t think specifically what they are right now. I’m sorry. I only saw it once.
Lucy was a terrible baker. Are you a good baker?
Wiig: I’m okay. I’m not one of those people that can just make something. I have to follow a recipe. (laughs) Does that make you a good baker if you can follow a recipe? Then yeah, I’m pretty good.
Gru’s kids find it easy to be fond of Lucy. Are you cool with kids?
Wiig: I love kids. All my best friends have kids, and I love, love, love kids.
One of my favorite things in the movie is the Minions.
Wiig: They’re my favorite part too.
Obviously, everybody loves the Minions from the first film because they’re adorable, crazy and wacky. What was your reaction when you saw the methed-out purple version?
Wiig: It was really funny. I liked how all of them, when they were evil, had very crazy, bushy hair. I just thought it was an interesting take on how to have everything go wrong and all the Minions go bad. It was pretty funny. They all had really jutted out bottom teeth, which I guess is what monsters look like.
There’s so much going on behind the main action that you’ll pick up on if you see this movie multiple times, like the one Minion who wears the jam can the entire movie and never gets out. Are there things like that which stood out to you?
Wiig: I didn’t actually notice that, but I will next time I see it. (laughs) That’s what I like about this movie. I remember there is one scene where there are just Minions working, and you’re looking all over, and you can see that they all have their own little story. They’re all doing different things and have different relationships with each other. I’m sure you’ll notice things the more you see it. I love that kind of stuff.
How did you find the voice of your character? Did you see your character first and then from there you created the voice?
Wiig: It depends. On this one, we didn’t really veer too much from my own voice. We just amped it up a bit. It depends on the project. For this, they wanted her to be a little more down to earth and real sounding.
I love your wacky characters and I think it’s so brave how far you go. Bridesmaids was just pure genius. Have you reached the top of your wacky point and will you go further?
Wiig: God, I hope not! It’s a fine line. Now that I’m not on SNL I guess the chance to find those crazy characters won’t come around as much. That was like a weekly thing of being able to be fearless and find all those different voices and people. Actually doing an animated movie is the next best thing because you can be big and broad and use different voices, where you can’t do that so much in a live action movie. I hope I can continue to find more. I hope so because I really enjoy it.
How did you feel about the movie when you saw all the music put in?
Wiig: I loved the music. I’m one of those people that really pays attention to the music in films. The first time I saw this movie, I was like, “Oh my gosh, it’s so different and it’s Pharrell (Williams) and it’s modern. The music in the second one is so good. It was such a smart choice to have him do the music. It sets a different tone for the movie which is great. How do you not like Pharrell?
A lot of the time with animated movies like this, the voice actors will walk around in real life and kids will ask them to do the voice. Have you ever had that experience?
Wiig: Nope. (laughs) No, it hasn’t happened yet, but maybe after the movie comes out. As of now, no one has said anything.
Lucy is a character that has very big, graceful movements. Is that something that is captured in the booth when they’re recording you and you’re doing the voice?
Wiig: Sometimes. I saw the movie and she’s very physical and all over the place. I certainly didn’t do all of her moves. Sometimes when you’re recording certain action lines, you have to do the moves to get into it. So there was a little bit of physicality there. Plus they’re recording you to get little facial expressions or body movements to capture and translate into your animated self. There wasn’t a lot of room to move around.
What kind of physical comedy influenced you when you were growing up?
You seem very reserved and proper in public. How do you allow yourself to just let loose on stage or in front of the camera and then shut everything down and become yourself again?
Wiig: A lot of people assume that you are the personality that they see you as on screen. When I start working, I have to separate who I am from it a little bit. I’m not really reserved in real life, maybe in a setting like this, maybe a little more so, because I’m talking about myself and I know that you’re writing everything down that I’m saying. So it is a little strange. When I’m with my friends, I’m obviously a little more relaxed. It’s funny. People just assume you’re that person, and it goes the other way too. Sometimes when I do interviews, people expect me to talk in different voices and things like that, and I’m just a normal person.
Can you tell us what you have coming up next?
Wiig: Anchorman 2 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty come out in December, and then I have Girl Most Likely coming out in July. That’s a smaller film. I did two other really small films, Hateship, Loveship and The Skeleton Twins, which hopefully will be going to festivals. I’m really excited about those. They’re more on the dramatic side. I’m trying to do a little bit of both.
With Anchorman 2, you get to work with Steve and a bunch of very funny gentlemen. What’s that experience like to come into number two and go to town with these guys?
Wiig: I’m totally completely flattered. I said yes before I knew. Anchorman is one of my favorite movies. I love all of those guys. I think it was my first day, and they were all there in their costumes and the cowboy hats and the vests and everything. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m actually here and that’s really them.” I geeked out for a minute. I couldn’t believe that I was there, and to be a part of it is very surreal. I can’t wait to see it and have it come out.
How crazy comedically do you get to go in the movie?
Wiig: The movie is pretty crazy. It’s like the first one. It’s a little bit all over the place, like is it reality or what’s going on? If you like the first one, you’ll definitely like this one.
Are you a more grounded character or do you get to go as wild as the rest of them?
Wiig: You’ll have to see. You know what I’m saying? (laughs)
Despicable Me 2 opens July 3rd.