Why Kristen Wiig Thinks Women In Comedy Are Doing Better Than Ever
Although Kristen Wiig is best known for comedic roles in Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids, and the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, recent years have seen her taking on some unexpected dramatic turns. There was The Skeleton Twins, Welcome to Me, and, now, Nasty Baby , an indie drama out Oct. 23. The new film is dark and dramatic — but thanks to a largely improvised script, still allows Wiig to show off her chops for comedy. So, as happens when a female star shows off her humorous side, the actress was asked about the state of "women in comedy" at the L.A. press conference for the film — but her answer wasn't your typical response.
"I feel like I'm always going to be asked the 'women in comedy' question and as long as I'm asked that, I'm going to say that it's always a struggle," said Wiig. "There are more roles for men. That's the way it is right now and it's always been that way. I think it is getting better, but we have a ways to go. Comedy is changing fast and a lot of big names in comedy are women, and I think that's amazing."
Nasty Baby is a rare movie that provides its stars, especially its female lead, with both deep drama and hilarious one-liners. Directed and written by Sebastian Silva (who also stars), the new film follows Polly (Kristen Wiig), who is soliciting sperm from her friends Freddy (Silva) and Mo (Tunde Adebimpe), a gay couple, so that she can have a baby. However, she encounters a few speed bumps along the way, including Freddy's low sperm count, Mo's conservative family, and an unfortunate run-in with the couple's harassing neighbor that involves a leaf blower (saying anymore would be a spoiler). Yet overall, the film focuses on the changing landscape of parenthood, primarily single women who decide to have children.
"I have friends who are around my age, 36, that are waiting to find a man to have a baby. I feel that's changing," Silva told Bustle at the conference. "Eventually, you might find a man to give you a baby, but why do you have to wait for that man to give you a baby? Why can't you be a woman with a baby and then find a man? I feel that's something women are considering more now. There isn't any shame in being a single mother and then finding a lover."
Unlike many other movies about single women, Nasty Baby doesn't find Polly tripping over herself to find a man with the sole purpose of getting pregnant. It's a "new normal" story told from a different perspective. According to Silva, the movie's heroine isn't "bitter," but instead "an attractive, fun woman with a great job... she's not so codependent on men, which I think is a modern take."
To give the role of Polly its needed complexity, Silva required a star that was up to the task. He was introduced to Wiig by their mutual friend and Nasty Baby co-star Alia Shawkat, and began considering her for the role of Polly — despite previously having no familiarity with the actress' work.
"I had no idea who Kristen was — but I don't know who anyone is," Silva said, joking. "Then I looked her up and she is a genius. She is the funniest woman alive. I was so nervous to talk to her. We talked on the phone and we clicked. Then we met at an opening and I tickled her. That's how we closed the deal."
Silva is no stranger to casting comedic actors in his dramatic indies. Previously, Michael Cera played the lead in two of the director's films, Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and Magic Magic. Perhaps Wiig will be his next muse. After all, much of Silva's work has a unique quirk and a cool surrealism, a tone that's been present in several of Wiig's recent films, like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Nasty Baby is different, though; with its serious subject matter, it's the kind film that wouldn't be at the top of — or even present on — an average moviegoer's list.
"I feel that people have the tendency to avoid subjects that touch them deeply," Silva said. "They want to see Spider-Man flying around buildings because it doesn't really relate to them so personally."
But according to Wiig, the movie's realism is the reason people will see it.
"[Nasty Baby is] different and makes people think," she said. "It's real. It's a great story. It's a different kind of film. Why wouldn't anyone want to go see this?"
Beats me — if it has the Wiig stamp of approval, then I, for one, am all in.
Image: The Orchard