“My whole life has been about finding out—what are the fun adult things in life?” says director Paul Feig. It’s 10AM and the Bridesmaids director is wearing a three-piece suit with a matching pastel-pink tie and a boutonniere, standing in front of a luxe liquor cabinet. In his right hand he’s holding a stoppered, crystalline bottle of Artingstall’s Brilliant London Dry Gin, which he recently launched. It’s his birthday.
Feig is a master of the “fun adult things in life.” He has helped shape at least half of the entertainment you love—he co-created the beloved high school comedy series Freaks and Geeks, and in doing so, introduced the world to Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, and Busy Philipps. He directed major episodes of Arrested Development, Weeds, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation. Then he directed some of the most beloved and iconic arcs of The Office (we’re talking the dinner party! Jim and Pam’s wedding! Michael’s final episode!)
After that came Bridesmaids, directed by Feig and written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, which became not just a blockbuster smash and instant classic but also a cultural turning point. Continuing to work with Melissa McCarthy, he made us cackle with The Heat, Spy, and Ghostbusters. In 2018, he took a hard turn and made A Simple Favor, the rare thriller to build a sizable Pinterest following.
This is a man who’s earned a drink.
To promote his new gin, Artingstall’s, Feig is having a party—for all the brides whose special day was postponed, all the bridesmaids who put down cash to go to Vegas and ended up liking IG pics of weddings that took place in a courthouse, all broke Maids of Honor, still careening toward their rock bottom, and all fathers of the bride who’ve ever said, “I’m not paying for this.” All of us are invited to a live virtual Bridesmaids watch-a-long on September 24 at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern. The movie will be peppered with behind-the-scenes secrets from Feig, plus his demonstrations of how to mix Bridesmaids-themed cocktails, and for every RSVP, Artingstall’s will donate one dollar to Family Promise, a nonprofit that helps families experiencing homelessness find sustainable, community-based solutions.
To get us READDDDDY to PARTAY (as Wiig’s Bridesmaids character would say) Feig kindly filled Glamour in on some of the wildest, funniest, most puke-cannon and rabbit-sex-filled moments on the Bridesmaids set.
Glamour: What was it like shooting sex scenes with Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm?
Feig: In my career, I have had to shoot sex scenes occasionally, and it’s my least favorite thing to do. I’m just so uncomfortable with it and I feel so bad for everybody, including myself. But we knew we wanted to shoot this movie out of a cannon and we thought, “What a funny way to open a movie, with just, like, an insane sex scene!” Jon Hamm and Kristen are so funny that we said, “Let’s not look at this as a sex scene, let’s look at this as a fight scene.” That’s what it is, a professional wrestling scene. Shooting it, we just had this camera crane going around like, “Next position! Next position!” It was like this big action scene. There’s nothing sexy about that scene at all, and that’s what made it so fun.
I’m sorry but I’ve been thinking about this for years—what’s in the “throw-up,” when actors throw up on screen, like in the bridal boutique scene? And how long do the actors have to hold it in their mouths?
It’s a concoction. I know there’s oatmeal for a little bit of texture, and there’s some chopped up vegetables. I’m trying to remember—I have pictures of them somewhere of them mixing up these big vats of throw up. I think it actually tastes okay. It might be almond milk. But then it’s just very simple, you literally come over with a cup and go—here you go! And they fill their mouth, and let it fly. When we were shooting that dress scene we had a lot of different bailouts because we didn’t know if it was going to work or not. One of the endings we had in case the bathroom scene didn’t work is they would all be making these noises and it would cut over to Melissa’s characters and she would just be covered in vomit. I had to go over to Melissa and say, like, “I’m sorry” and just completely cover her in vomit. Melissa and I always have this joke, “I’ve been Feig-ed!” So that’s my legacy with her.
We did have to have a vomit cannon, though. Because there’s a scene that we didn’t put in the movie where Ellie’s character runs in and Wendy’s like, “Get away from me.” And so she runs down the hall and opens the door and projectile vomits across the room. But when we got in the editing room everyone was immediately like, “That’s just too much, we have to take that out.” We do have some class.
Help me understand: Why do I love the “There’s a colonial woman on the wing” line that Wiig’s character says when she’s losing it on the plane to the bachelorette party in Vegas? Where did that come from?
Well I’ll tell you exactly what it was—that whole sequence was supposed to be in Vegas—it was supposed to be that Kristen’s character has no money, she has one check and she’s trying to parse out this money and then Rose Byrne’s character is just outspending her like crazy. It ended in this weird, hilarious scene in a strip club where she’s standing on stage and a stripper sweats into her mouth. But what happened was The Hangover had just come out and it was so big and successful and had done Vegas so well that we were kind of like, why would we do it again? I said, “They should just not get to Vegas, it should all fall apart on the plane.” It was late in the process and we were about to start shooting, and Annie Mumolo went off and wrote the first draft because Kristen was shooting SNL, and sent me this 16 page scene. And when I got to the “colonial woman on the wing,” I laughed so hard because I love anything that’s absurd, but it still makes perfect sense to somebody. That’s just out of the genius mind of Annie Mumolo.
What was it like shooting the bridal shower scene, with the puppies and chocolate fountain and giant cookie?
We shot for a couple days on that. There was a lot to wrangle. First of all, who knew that bunnies were actually as randy as they are known to be? I had no idea. The bunnies were running around, and they just kept having sex, constantly. We’d be in the middle of a shot and then “Oh my god!”
What did you love that didn’t make it into the movie?
Kristen and Annie had written about all these weird games that get played at a bridesmaids party, and there was one that was so funny—it was just one moment where all the girls are around and they’ve got a blanket and there’s an extremely old woman in the blanket and they’re throwing her up in the air and catching her in the blanket. It made me laugh so hard. Is this a game people play? Apparently somebody had this experience.
Bridesmaids was Melissa McCarthy’s comedy breakthrough. I like Gilmore Girls, but how did she do 153 episodes of that show without becoming known as a comedian?
She wasn’t allowed to cut loose, I guess. When you know Melissa and what she can do—anything where she’s not going flat out, you don’t realize “Oh my god there’s this comedy beast there.” We had seen a lot of people to play Megan—it was late in the process that Kristen and Annie said, “You gotta meet our friend Melissa,” and she came in and her take on the character was so different than anyone else that it took me a good ten seconds to even realize what she was doing. And the rest is history—I fell in love with her talent, and we’ve done four movies together. Any performer, especially a comedy performer, people think they know exactly what they do and they don’t believe that they have another level. They don’t realize how talented these people are.
You’re an extremely successful man in comedy, and most of the projects you do are about women and written by women (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy, A Simple Favor, Last Christmas.) Where, in this culture that doesn’t particularly care to hear women talk let alone make jokes, did you come by this willingness to be a handmaiden to funny women and their stories? I mean, Bridesmaids doesn’t pass a reverse Bechdel test.
In school I had a lot of bullies so I tended to either hang out with my geeky guy friends or all the girls I knew in drama club. I always felt more comfortable around women because they took all this weird aggressiveness out of what you normally get with a pack of guys, which translates into comedy. The comedy of guys is very homophobic and very aggressive, and I didn’t like that. Growing up I was very close with my mom and we would watch all these old movies from the 30s and 40s where the women were very much equal to the men in their comedy, their quippy-ness. Then in the 70s and the 80s and the 90s I was seeing comedy suddenly become so male-dominated and the female characters being reduced to being so one-dimensional…and having the added benefit of knowing a lot of the actresses, who I had done standup or improv with, who would show up in movies and be completely not funny, being the shrew or the perfect girl. It just bothered me because they weren’t getting showcased, and these stories aren’t even true! And I was seeing the effect it was having on guys because then they’ve got that attitude that “Oh, women are just in the way” or “they’re just for chasing around.” It’s all so unhealthy! And I’m just more interested in female stories—what my friends are going through and what they’re feeling. To me it’s the only storytelling I’m really interested in, to be honest.
One more thing. You identify as a geek, but Blake Lively’s super hot look in A Simple Favor was based on your habit of wearing tuxes and suits. How does it feel being a style icon?
Well! Filtered through Blake Lively, everything becomes hot. If Blake was hanging out with some sort of hillbilly and said “I’m going to wear the clothes you wear,” suddenly it would be a fashion trend, you know? That said, I was very honored. She and Renée Kalfus, my amazing costume designer—they were so inventive that I was like, “Can I appropriate that? I wonder if I can get more brooches on my lapel!” I’ll try to wear a shirt—but I do need those removable cuffs.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.
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