Best of 2011 (Behind the Scenes): 'Bridesmaids' co-writer Annie Mumolo discusses the airplane scene
As 2011 comes to a close, EW.com wanted to honor some of the hardworking names and faces from behind the scenes for their outstanding achievements. Here, Annie Mumolo, co-writer of this year’s runaway comedy hit Bridesmaids, discusses what it was like writing — and briefly appearing in (as writing partner Kristen Wiig’s jittery seat mate) — the other big moment that had everyone in stitches: The airplane scene. For more behind the scenes access to the year’s best TV and movie scenes, click here for EW.com‘s Best of 2011: Behind the Scenes coverage.
As told by: Annie Mumolo
When we wrote [Bridesmaids], we originally had a different sequence where they all go to Las Vegas. It was in the [script] for years. We began writing the film in 2006 and as time passed, other movies came out that involved Las Vegas. So when we were coming close to shooting the movie, [producer] Judd [Apatow] said, “There’s too much Las Vegas. It’s in every movie now. We have to come up with something more original and think of something different.” So it was three weeks before shooting that we cut a huge Las Vegas sequence and we wrote the airplane sequence in, like, a weekend.”
When Judd first told us to take [the Vegas] scene out, we were so scared, because it was in the script for so long. When we finally wrote [the airplane scene], it really made us laugh and we saw the opportunity for what it could be and the potential that it had. It was actually one of the easier scenes for us to write. I don’t know if that’s because sometimes when you don’t have enough time to overthink anything, you don’t.
We just had so much fun with it. This scene just took off very easily. When we finished that scene, there was a feeling of, “Wow, I’m so happy that this change was made and happy that we ended up with that.” It was a good exercise in letting go. The movie-making process, everything changes at every step. We took something out and we were nervous, and then we ended up with something better. It was a really good learning experience for us.
I love when Kristen first comes through that curtain. I just thought Kristen delivered such an amazing performance, on so many levels, in that scene. But maybe my favorite part of it was the actual chemistry between everybody. Wendi [McLendon-Covey] and Ellie [Kemper] had such a difficult task to pull off — that was actually the biggest challenge of that scene. We knew where it going to end up, but getting to that point, where they’re going to kiss, was a very difficult obstacle to overcome. It can’t come across as a Girls Gone Wild moment. It comes out of desperation. [But] they pulled it off with flying colors.
It’s funny, we didn’t expect the [big] laugh to come from [the air marshal reveal]. But then we realized in perspective why people laughed there. Because the whole time you think [Melissa McCarthy’s character] Megan is crazy. We actually thought the laugh was going to come from when Melissa pops out and tackles Kristen. It’s funny to see where the laughs come from when you cut everything together and make all the pieces fit.
We’re just so happy to know that with something like this, there was a place for our voice. It’s not easy getting a movie made. It’s extremely difficult and the process was tough, so by the time the movie came out, it was almost anti-climatic because the making of the movie is the tangible experience of it. [The success of the film] was very surprising, for sure, but exciting and overwhelming.
For more on the Best and Worst of 2011, pick up Entertainment Weekly’s new issue, on stands now.