The opening scene of Universal’s highly anticipated sequel to the 2012 college a cappella comedy features the now-world-famous Barden Bellas performing for President Obama. Wilson’s self-assured Fat Amy descends from the rafters in Cirque du Soleil-like trapeze silks as if to perform an acrobatic sequence à la Pink. Unfortunately, the silks rip, Amy’s pants split, she flips upside down, and she delivers an epic wardrobe-malfunction that comes to be referred to as “Muffgate.”
It’s a hilarious scene to watch, but filming it rattled the nerves of a heights-phobic Wilson. At 16, the Australian actress fell during a high-school production of Fiddler on the Roof, and she didn’t relish the idea of repeating the incident. Despite her fear, Wilson was determined to prove to actress-turned-director Elizabeth Banks (Effie in the Hunger Games movies) that she could tackle the stunt. “They tested me to see whether I had the ability to do it,” remembers Wilson. “I had to hang upside down for at least 30 seconds by my thighs.” On the day of shooting, she says, “I was really, really scared. But Fat Amy is super confident. So I was like, ‘Here’s what I’m going to do: I’ll do it three times—that’s it. I won’t look scared in the takes and I’ll crush it.’ I was proud that I pulled it off, and it’s such a good opening.”
Wilson, 29, should be used to stealing scenes at this point. Fat Amy was easily the breakout character of the original—about
the ragtag Bellas’ rise to a cappella fame—thanks to Wilson’s blunt delivery (Amy to the Bellas: “Even though some of you are pretty thin, you all have fat hearts, and that’s what matters”) and memorable physical comedy (horizontal running, anyone?). Perfect grossed a modest $113 million worldwide, but because of its huge success on DVD and cable as well as its blockbuster soundtrack, it became a cultural phenomenon and turned Wilson, who had a small role in 2011’s Bridesmaids, into a star. “I was in Africa last year,” she says. “The teenage girls would scream at me like I was in One Direction. It’s crazy that it’s reached these corners of the world. It’s really awesome.”
Pitch Perfect 2 arrives in theaters on May 15 with a bigger plot (the Bellas try to regain respect after the presidential disaster by entering the World Championships) and more screen time for Wilson. She admits that carried with it more stress. “The first movie was so much fun because it was just like a musical theater camp, having fun,” she says. “Whereas, the second one, I felt a lot of pressure to make a good movie for all the fans and all the people that loved the first one.”
For more on Pitch Perfect 2, including the new “Cups” and the film’s scene-stealers, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday.