Notes From Sundance

01.24.12

Sundance’s Bad Girls Club: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, and Rebel Wilson Talk ‘Bachelorette’

Sundance’s dark, raunchy comedy features strippers, bathroom sex and mounds of cocaine—and has the meanest group of girls you’ll see onscreen this year. Marlow Stern talks to Bachelorette stars Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, and writer-director Leslye Headland about cocaine, bathroom sex—and real-life weddings.

After blowing rails upon rails of cocaine and verbally undressing everyone in her path, Kirsten Dunst’s Regan has a stern warning to douche bag Trevor (James Marsden), as he jackhammers away at her in a strip-club bathroom, in a line that pretty much sums up Bachelorette: “Don’t cum on my dress.”

Take the vanity of Charlize Theron’s Mavis in Young Adult; add a pinch of Annie’s (Kristen Wiig) petty jealousy in Bridesmaids; and top it off with the iciness of Margaret Thatcher, played by Meryl Streep, in The Iron Lady and you have the recipe for Regan—one of the nastiest characters ever put to film.

“I feel like Sharon Stone in Casino is fucking crazy, but in her craziness, she’s so put together and awesome,” Dunst told The Daily Beast. “That’s kind of the essence that I went for.”

Bachelorette marks the filmmaking debut of former Harvey Weinstein assistant Leslye Headland, and it had already garnered comparisons with Bridesmaids for its raunchy humor and wedding themes when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week. But it’s much, much darker than that. The movie follows Regan, the ringleader of a trio of reprehensible gals—joined by the lascivious Gena (Lizzy Caplan), who delivers blowjob monologues, and brain-dead tart, Katie (Isla Fisher)—who have been best friends since high school. When their frenemy, Becky (Rebel Wilson)—who they all called “Pig Face” in high school—gets engaged, Regan reluctantly assumes the maid-of-honor role and plans a wedding weekend replete with a low-key bachelorette party. But things don't exactly go as planned.

After a male stripper rubs Becky the wrong way, the trio decides to have their own party, blowing tons of coke off their hotel-room coffee table. This leads to convincing Regan and Katie to both get in Becky's plus-sized wedding dress so she can snap a photo of it and tag the bride-to-be on Facebook. The dress tears, setting the girls on a frantic mission to get the gown fixed before the wedding ceremony the following day.

“They seem to go against what we’ve come to know as romantic-comedy female heroines,” Isla Fisher told The Daily Beast. “They have an ugly side.”

Headland had originally staged Bachelorette as a short play, but pals Adam McKay and Will Ferrell approached Headland to turn it into a movie after they saw it. The budding filmmaker had already written a script based on the play and showed it to the guys, who agreed to help produce the film under their Gary Sanchez Productions banner. Despite the inevitable comparisons with Bridesmaids, Bachelorette has all the trappings of being Sundance’s crossover hit.

While Headland was inspired by the foul-mouth, male-centric plays of Neil LaBute and David Rabe, the story is also deeply personal for her.

“It was a combination of my sister’s getting married and people at the wedding asking me if I was sad I wasn’t married,” said Headland.

Bachelorette was shot in less than 25 days on location in New York City, and was accepted into Sundance just three weeks after shooting wrapped. Dunst relished playing the role of Regan, whom she calls “a raging bitch”—a far cry from her Oscar-worthy turn as a depressed bride in Melancholia—who is nothing like how she was in high school.

“I didn’t even try pot in high school and I don’t even think I had a boyfriend,” said Dunst. “I was so into my girlfriends and our own little world that I didn’t really care about dudes.” She pauses, and laughs. “I did remember me and my girlfriends filling up bottles of Gatorade and vodka going to house parties. That’s what we would do.”

Dunst, Fisher, and Headland all agree that the coke-snorting scene was one of their favorites to shoot, with the girls blowing line after line of crushed vitamins. But Fisher, who has two children with her husband, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, was initially concerned with how she’d fit in among the single and sociable duo of Dunst and Caplan.

“At our first rehearsal, Lizzy and Kiki were all smoking and drinking at 9 a.m. I was like, ‘Oh, god. I just put my 17-month down for a nap and my 4-year-old is off to preschool!” said Fisher. “I felt like the uncool mom.”

Rebel Wilson, who stole every scene she was in as a British couch slouch with an unfortunate back tattoo in Bridesmaids and has a whopping six films out this year, was the last addition to the cast after Saturday Night Live’s Casey Wilson backed out of the role due to scheduling conflicts. Like her character, Wilson was a bit overwhelmed by the power women in the film.

“I remember when I first met these three girls at the table read, I was like, ‘These three girls are so cool, just the way they talk, their fashion sense,” said Wilson. “And my character is like the girl who wants to be as cool as the other ones, but isn’t quite as cool.”

As for Dunst, who turns 30 this year, she says starring in back-to-back wedding-themed films hasn’t made her more eager to walk down the aisle. 

“I’ve never been a girl that dreamt about it, but I’d like to get married,” said Dunst. “Actors get to fantasize about things all the time, but a movie is [a person's] wedding.” She pauses, and adds, “Is that mean?”