The latest in the line of female-driven comedies that have reinvented the art of film watching, the sleeper video-on-demand (VOD) hit Bachelorette combines the good, the bad and the ugly of the pre-wedding night into a dark but highly satirical gong show of comedic proportions. On the eve of their friend’s unlikely wedding, a trio of best friends (played by Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan) set out to have a wild night of copious booze and lines of coke and other forms of debauchery as they contemplate not being the first to walk down the aisle.
Amid recent headlines for being the first film on VOD to top the best-selling list prior to this Friday’s theatrical release, we sat down for a chat about the film with producer Adam McKay, well known for his collaborations with Will Ferrell on Anchorman and Talladega Nights as well as cofounding their production company, Gary Sanchez, and comedy site Funny or Die.
Playboy.com: Bachelorette just became the first film to top iTunes before its theatrical release this Friday. How surprised were you at the news?
McKay: It was really exciting! They said it had never happened before for a VOD-premiere movie. I guess for five straight days it was number one. Clearly they love these actresses and love this idea; from the comments I’ve read, people say it feels very real for them. We’ll see if it translates to the theatrical — all we really care about is if people see the film, whether it happens in the theater or somebody’s watching it on their TV or computer. Obviously theater is the best, but I’m curious to see how it translates. I think it’s going to do very well over in Europe.
Playboy.com: You originally saw Bachelorette in its first incarnation as a play. What pushed you to adapt it to film?
McKay: It was a combination of really loving the material — it felt to me like Neil LaBute: funny, satirical — and this was before Bridesmaids was out, but we love the fact that it’s driven by strong women characters. At that time, there weren’t a lot of movies doing that. It was dark satire and it was funny and energetic.
Playboy.com: A number of directors passed on the film; what made you choose the play’s director, Leslye Headland, who had never directed a movie before?
McKay: Sometimes you get these great scripts that are so personal and have a unique voice and go out to get someone to direct it, but people pass on it because it’s unique and has a specific voice; that’s exactly what happened here. It usually means you’ve got some really interesting material. We certainly knew this script was not a cookie-cutter boring script; it just scared some people. At some point we were just like, “Leslye has experience working with actors, strong point-of-view — she can handle this.” It turned out to be a very good problem to have.
Playboy.com: You had three strong leads; how did they mesh in rehearsals?
McKay: It really ended up being a dream cast. Rarely does it happen when you get your three first choices for a movie. Because they were so excited and all improvisational actresses, right away there was chemistry between them. They’re all very experienced even though they’re all young; they’ve all done a lot of stuff. Right away when they started shooting I was hearing from Leslye that they were improvising, trying stuff off each other. It was really one of those dream scenarios; you just couldn’t believe it when you have these experienced, interesting, smart, funny actresses, all three of them running at these roles, and then Rebel Wilson comes in for the fourth role and she’s amazing!
Playboy.com: Rebel Wilson was an interesting choice for the bride; what inspired that decision?
McKay: We ran a lot of actresses for that role. We all know Rebel as being really funny and an absurdist comic, so when Leslye told me she ran Rebel for the role I was really surprised because we have these hardcore actresses, and I had always thought of Rebel as being more of a comic. But then when I saw her audition I couldn’t believe it, how real she was, her instincts — we were all immediately blown away. She’s a heck of an actress.
Playboy.com: The comparisons between Bachelorette and Bridesmaids are inevitable. How would you personally distinguish the films?
McKay: The two movies it’s always compared against are Bridesmaids and The Hangover but for women. When you watch [Bachelorette], it has a much darker edge to it. I would say it’s more realistic in the sense that it’s about people being occasionally nasty to each other who are also best friends; like a lot of weddings there’s some cocaine being poured on the table. There’s a lot of dynamics that go quite dark at points and funny at points. It’s a more grounded movie in that sense. I personally love Bridesmaids and I love The Hangover — really great movies, but this is a very different movie.
Playboy.com: Bachelorette shows a darker side to a wedding day. What were you trying to portray with this?
McKay: Men certainly can go at each other, but women, and I have two daughters, can go at each other much harder. There’s competitiveness, a cutting thing that can happen — they love each other but they’re emotionally beating the crap out of each other.
Playboy.com: What’s your favorite scene from the film?
McKay: I love the opening scene with Kirsten and Rebel; it played so perfectly. The layers that they’re playing between their friendship: condescension, genuine friendship, anger, hurt, envy and at the same time funny! That scene is kind of a master class. In the original cut of the movie they actually cut the scene uninterrupted, and in the recut it sort of crosscuts between the phone call and the scene. But in the original scene it was played so completely pure; I was like, “That’s one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen.” The other scene I loved was when they ripped the dress. I guess that’s a bit of a spoiler for people reading it — you could hear the crowd gasp; they were fun to watch.