Before “Bridesmaids,” there was “Friends With Kids.” Though the film is only coming out this Friday, the project that Jennifer Westfeldt wrote, directed and starred in was finished long before stars Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd reunited in “Bridesmaids.” But that’s not where the parallels between the two films end.
In both films, Hamm and Wiig play sex-happy, ill-fated partners dealing with the changes in their relationship as they grow older. And, though Hamm is less of an ass in “Friends With Kids” than he is in “Bridesmaids,” he comes out looking like the bad guy to a certain extent in both of the movies. It becomes clear while watching the and Wiig act opposite one another that the ability to portray that kind of descent into the bad parts of a relationship onscreen comes from a close friendship offscreen.
IFC had the chance to catch up with Hamm while he was promoting “Friends With Kids” and talk about his working association with Wiig. When the two previously mentioned ill-fated onscreen relationships were mentioned to Hamm, he burst out laughing. “Yeah, I love that one,” he said, meaning Wiig. “She’s a good girl, and so much fun to be opposite. But sometimes when things don’t work out is more fun.”
Though it seems as though the two actors have known one another for ages, it turns out that they only got to know each other after Hamm hosted “Saturday Night Live” back in 2008. Though Hamm admitted he and Wiig might have met before through mutual friends like Paul Rudd, it wasn’t until the “Man Men” star’s first “SNL” gig that the two of them really hit it off.
“We just clicked together on the first time I hosted, and we did a bunch of sketches together and then as I came back and hosted the show a couple more times, I don’t know, for whatever reason our energies just kind of flowed in the right way,” he said. “She’s so goddamn talented and it’s always fun to be in a scene with her, so when she asked me to do ‘Bridesmaids,’ I was like, ‘I will do whatever you want.'”
It was their rapport onscreen that convinced Hamm that Wiig was the right person to play his wife Missy in “Friends With Kids.” She tends to play outrageous characters in films and on “Saturday Night Live” that border on caricatures, so Hamm felt it was about time for her to act in a story that felt “real.”
“Not to say that she doesn’t do that, but just sad and a little more downbeat than she’s done,” he explained. “So when we cast her in this film, we were like, ‘I know you can do this. You’re going to be great.'”
And she is great in “Friends With Kids.” In one scene around a dinner table in the film, Wiig breaks down in a way that fans have never really had a chance to see before. But Wiig has obviously had the opportunity to show off her more serious side in films like “Extract,” “Whip It!” and, of course, in “Bridesmaids.”
Hamm couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful he thought Wiig’s performance and writing were in “Bridesmaids.” Her friend and onscreen costar gushed about how that performance is very similar in tone to the one she pulls off in “Friends With Kids.”
“I think that her work in ‘Bridesmaids’ was so fantastic and real and sad. As heightened and crazy as some of the scenes are in there, for me the most effective parts of that film and I think the reason why it really, really resonated with a larger audience was the fact that it was a story about a girl and a friendship with another girl,” he said. “The scene at the end when Kristen goes and finds Maya and they have that really heart-breaking talk about just, ‘I’m going to miss you and I love you,’ that stuff was the real kind of emotional core that the film was built on and she knocked it out of the park.”
And don’t expect their collaborations to stop anytime soon. Hamm just returned to “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend and it likely won’t be his last surprise appearance on the show.
“It was fun. It was really nice,” he said. “I was surprised that they asked, but very happy and it was great to see all those guys again and it was a fun show.”