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Ten years ago, Bride Wars hit theaters in the middle of the romantic comedy boom. Its young stars, Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, were cementing their place in the A-list of Hollywood and the rom-com genre specifically (Hudson had starred in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days!). But its screenwriters were brand new to the scene — today they’re starring in fan favorites like Grace and Frankie and Black Monday, but in the late 2000s they had just been discovered. Ahead, Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael tell EW about the wild ride that was the making of Bride Wars.
Getting the gig
June Diane Raphael: We were at the Aspen Comedy Festival, which no longer exists, and Casey and I were there with our two-woman sketch show we had created called Rode Hard and Put Away Wet. I just thought, ‘I gotta get us an agent [here].’
Casey Wilson: An agent was the holy grail. I was like, I need an agent, and I must become a star quickly. We got a call saying that someone from United Talent Agency wanted to meet us for drinks in the lobby of the hotel and to this day I don’t think I’ve had a high like that; we were screaming and jumping around. When we got there he announced that he was a literary agent and we went into the bathroom and basically cried.
Raphael: I remember seeing his card, “Literary department,” and being like NO.
Wilson: I was like, June, this means they think we’re ugly. And that’s tough.
Raphael: But later at the festival an executive from New Regency, her name is Heidi Sherman, took us out for drinks. We were 24 maybe and she was not that much older than us and I remember thinking, ‘”Wow, she’s a legitimate human being.” Which felt crazy because Casey and I were living like animals.
Wilson: And once again, she wanted to work with us as writers.
Raphael: Oh, no interest in our acting careers. But she said, “You know I want you to take a look at this script.” At that point, it was in turnaround at Miramax, but she thought we might be good to write it. I think what drew us to [the story] was the female friendship; at that time it was really exciting. Heidi heard our take and said, I’d like to fly you out to LA to pitch this to Kate Hudson. At her home. I quit every job I had.
Wilson: As did I. I basically told my dad, “I’m not talking to you’s guys anymore, because I don’t need to.” We didn’t even have the job yet.
Raphael: We flew out [to Los Angeles] and my sister drove us to New Regency. I remember what we both wore — jeans, heels, tank tops, and blazers. Our idea was like, listen, Hollywood has rejected us as actors but we’re serious writers.
Wilson: I brought glasses, June.
Raphael: At Kate’s house the whole experience was thrilling. She came downstairs and it was like this angel descended. She cozied up on the couch and we had these giant index cards and my hands were shaking. We were also going to act out the characters and one of the producers was like, Kate, Casey and June are two standup comedians. I was like nooo! We’re not standups!
Wilson: It was like no one wanted to acknowledge us as actors.
Raphael: But she loved it and that was that. I still remember when we got the call that we got the job — we were at Marix [on Santa Monica Boulevard].
Wilson: So then we had to learn to write a movie.
Raphael: I had never seen a screenplay before. Never laid my eyes on one. We also could not afford Final Draft at that point, so we were writing in Final Draft Demo, which means you can only save 15 pages at a time.
Wilson: My dad knew a screenwriting teacher in Pennsylvania so June and I proceeded to take the Amtrak to his house a few times and got lessons in about three sessions. We watched Psycho and were like, we’re done.
Raphael: The last thing that had to happen was to pitch Anne Hathaway to get her on board. And luckily she said yes — these little angels walking amongst us hired women who did not own Final Draft. But nevertheless, we persisted.
Wilson: Essentially Kate Hudson gave us our first big break. She took a huge chance on us and we’ll never forget it.
Making Bride Wars
Raphael: It was a long process. The writers’ strike hit at some point near the end of it. We were up until literally 11:59 with Kate and our producers finishing a draft. They even brought in other writers at one point and I felt like our lives were over.
Wilson: But then we came back on! We came right back.
Raphael: At the time we did not know how comedy scripts were really produced and how it goes through a committee. It’s not like it’s one person’s vision that’s being executed. That was a shock to us, but it’s not that unusual as it turns out.
Wilson: We had to lobby big time for our roles in it. When Gary [Winick] was hired as the director I felt like he was the first person that acknowledged, if you will, the breadth of our talent. He really pushed for us and we did have to audition — which is horrifying [laughs] for the role you’ve written for yourself.
Raphael: We did not have to audition! I don’t remember auditioning.
Wilson: June, yes we did. You blocked this out. We sure as shoot did. Now Gary told us it was a formality but I found out later it was very much not a formality.
Raphael: I was on set a lot more than Casey because she was on SNL.
Wilson: We were at Kate’s house and I got the call from Lorne Michaels to leave now and go to the Beverly Hills Hotel and that’s when he told me I got SNL.
Raphael: I’d just finished Year One so I was able to be there for the majority of it. I had an incredible experience sitting next to Gary and watching him direct.
On the cutting room floor
Raphael: It certainly wasn’t easy then to make a big budget movie about two female characters. It was a time where it was like, they gotta be likable, they gotta like babies and small dogs. After you check off all these boxes they couldn’t be as flawed as we were interested in seeing them.
Wilson: I think in some cases we wanted to push the comedy a bit harder — Gary was really behind us, as were Kate and Anne, but it’s a much larger entity that you’re up against.
Raphael: The idea that a wedding is the beginning of a woman’s life, we wanted to challenge that. A big part of what we were saying is that women get lost in it and I think what the movie ended up becoming was a little bit more bride porn. And that’s okay, it just wasn’t exactly where we were going.
Wilson: Oh my God, June, I had this girl come up to me who took this line that we meant as very satirical — she was like, I’m getting married and I just keep thinking about your guys’ line and I’m really taking it to heart. “You don’t alter Vera [Wang] to fit you, you alter yourself to fit Vera.” I was like oh that was a joke! In a perfect world, it would have been a darker comedy and a bit more satirical but I’m happy with what it was and that’s just the process.
Raphael: We had a lot of interesting side characters and set pieces that didn’t make it. Kate Hudson’s hair turns blue but in our script she was bald. And Casey, do you remember we had this whole sequence where Kate’s character is supposed to find other bridesmaids? She was hanging out with her nieces and just relegated to the dregs.
Wilson: It was a real crew of undesirables.
Raphael: I’m remembering our draft very fondly right now.
Wilson: Seems like you really love it.
Wilson: I’ll never forget that when Gary was editing and testing the movie, he called us and said we’ve got a problem. The guy we cast to play Fletcher, who’s supposed to be the less desirable boyfriend, was just too likable. And it was Chris Pratt. The audiences loved him too much, nothing he says is unlikable.
Raphael: I remember being like, I know you because you’re Anna Faris’ husband. It was like, I guess that’s how he got this part! [Laughs]. It was a different time. But it was a problem how good he was.
Wilson: Now, I urge all of your readers to Google my outfit from the premiere. It’s really something. Many people tried to talk me out of it the dress, including Tom, the costumer at SNL who’s been there for 25 years. He was like, honey, I think we can do better, with love. And I was like, we cannot possibly do better than this gold disco ball dress. And my hair was equally problematic. I did huge Shirley Temple curls.
Raphael: When I saw the hair I was like, oh, this is the beginning stages. Then they’ll brush it out, obviously.
Wilson: I’ll never forget, June came down in a very sleek black dress with her hair blown out and I was like, this is all wrong. It was one of the great tragedies of my life.
Raphael: Gary Winick, who we were very close to, bought us both rooms at the Plaza Hotel for the premiere.
Wilson: Never forget it.
Raphael: There was a party at Tiffany’s because they were featured in the movie. They were going to loan my jewelry and I was like, I am a star and a princess and that’s just the way it is. I had only been there for maybe half an hour and a woman came up to me and was like, we’re ready to take the necklace back now.
What came next
Wilson: After the movie came out we were asked to write a lot of things, and rewrite some movies which we’ve done here and there over the years. Great vehicles for women have always been our aim.
Raphael: I think definitely Ass Backwards, which we did afterward even though we wrote it before Bride Wars, was us really thinking we want to do hard comedy and really make these characters insane. What was interesting was we bumped up against a lot of things, like oh, we don’t have a major studio with money who can help us make this happen.
Wilson: We didn’t have one dollar, in fact!
Raphael: But [Bride Wars] was really our way in. I look at it so fondly as an introduction to this industry.
Wilson: It’s kind of amazing that it was truly our first job. We just thought, well I guess every movie gets made because here we are. It’s so comical.
Raphael: I remember us talking to other writers who were stunned that we had both gotten the job without ever trying for it initially. We were just like oh, gotta go make this movie they’re gonna produce. Hope we can get parts in it!
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