It’s always great to run into another Aussie here in Hollywood – even better when that fellow countrymen is a gracious, super sweet and very gifted Rose Byrne. Rose, though only really making a name for herself in the past couple of years in America (via the hit cable series “Damages”), has been acting since she was knee high to a grasshopper in our native Oz; she appeared opposite Heath Ledger in “Two Hands”, . Thanks to a small role in Wolfgang Peterson’s “Troy” (alongside another Aussie, Eric Bana), Rose’s Hollywood career took off… and it’s still soaring. In 2011 the beautiful brunette features in three major films, “Insidious” from James Wan & Leigh Whannell, the hit comedy “Bridesmaids” and the highly-anticipated “X-Men : First Class”.
How was your day?
Oh, it was really… It’s easier when you’re doing it with somebody else. So I was…
With Melissa [McCarthy] for most of the day, and then we’ve a couple of press conferences with all of the girls.
Makes the day go just much easier.
They seem like they’d be fun.
Really fun. It’s just good to… You know, divide the duties. Hearing the sound of your own voice the whole day. Yeah, but it’s really… I was looking forward to it. So I just came back to see all of the girls again. Which is a treat.
Yeah. So is it true that you got this role in “Bridesmaids” through ”Get Him to the Greek” and Judd Apatow? How’s that coming back…
I definitely… That helped. And there’s still an audition that I had to do but I had recently worked with them. So it absolutely helped big time, in getting the role. And I recently auditioned for Lillian. And then I said, “I’d love to audition for Helen” And he’s like “You want to have a crack at the bitch”. And I was like, “I want to go… She’s not a bitch. I love her. I want to go for it.” So that was cool. They let me go in for both and I went in.
What was it about Helen that you really liked?
She was so delicious. She was sort of, as soon as she came on the page, I was like, “I know who this person is”. And I met her and I… I guess she’s so different to me, there’s something very exciting about having an opportunity to play that, to be like what does make this woman tick? And who are these women that I know? What are they really like and why they’re… Where does it come from? So it was a real opportunity, yeah.
Because she’s not stereotypically a villain.
She’s actually quite nice.
She is. I think she is one of those, I hope, villains that you kind of like when she comes back to the screen a little bit. “Oh my goodness not this girl again”, but there’s something, like what’s she going to do next? What’s she going to suggest next? What is she going to… I think actually all of the characters have that. Like every time they come back on, Mellisa McCarthy’s character and so on, it’s sort of a delight when they come on with that, what’s going to happen. But Helen, yeah in particular, she was from the start very unpredictable.
Such it’s a great ensemble cast. It it hard to balance, do you think, all the different characters without letting them overpower each other?
It’s a good question. I think that’s sort of the strength of the film, is that it does let each character have their moment and have a bit of an arc, and have some kind of a revolution somewhat. And that, I think, is a testament to the script… I mean Christian wrote, they weren’t the stock female characters that usually see in comedies or in films in general. They were really developed, fully realized character as women, which was so rare. You never read anything like that.
I loved the dialogue as well. It was kind of awkwardly real.
Really? I know… Today Paul Fig, the director was sort of saying, like, in these situations when somethings… It’s not just tension and something’s not going right, but everybody acts normal. Everyone just puts on a brave face keep his smile plastered and… No one wants to ignore like the tension that’s going on until finally it does get acknowledged that’s really awkward and weird, you know. I think that’s probably what he’s trying to capture with certain moments.
And women, talking like women actually do.
Women talking like women do. Absolutely.
It felt quite realistic and more, perhaps more balls, than I guess, than in normal romantic comedy or like a chick flick.
No, it’s not really a chick flick, I don’t think. It’s kind of darker and weirder than that, you know. It’s just about loneliness, about friendship, I think. It’s what I related to reading the script. I’ve never been a bridesmaid, so that whole concept was something like researched about and learnt about. But the concept of friendship was what I really loved and old friends and how you can… I think I’ve been both Annie and Lillian in those situations, friends who you just can’t relate any more because they’ve gone through a different stratosphere. And then friends would come to you again and you’re like, “I just can’t relate to you any more.” You know, I think I’ve been on both sides of that experience. So that’s what I really loved about the script. I thought it was very realistic and tender.
And with Maya Rudolph playing Lillian, that ends up being perfect in that because of her and Kristen’s… You can really tell when you watch the film.
Absolutely. Yeah. They have a warmth and a familiarity and just like a totally…they have. And they do have a history in real life as well. It’s a perfect casting.
And she knew from the other girls from Groundlings and from improv comedy. So how did you feel coming into the group? Were they welcoming and…
They were so welcoming. And I was intimidated of course. I think doing Get Him to the Greek gave me some confidence in that improv as well, be it in terms of just… I just knew how they sort of worked. But this role was a lot bigger than Get Him to the Greek. So, all the… Yeah, so it was intimidating. But supportive rather than competitive. So when we would do ideas and throw things around, it would be like that was hilarious when we did that. And it wasn’t kind of sanctimonious or… It was like everyone giving each other props, rather than competitive stuff. And I don’t know if it would be a like but the same situation in the group of men, like all… But it was… So I was lucky. Didn’t feel kind of… But Helen, definitely, was a fish out of water. And I think that I was in a way, too. I thought I was history at first as they were from this sort of improv school whereas I am not.
Did you enjoy the improv comedy?
I did! You know, it’s terrifying and…
I couldn’t imagine anything scarier.
Yeah, it is terrifying. I think as long as you come from a place that’s real and… What I learnt is just how great they are. They’ll try anything, the girls. And maybe it will succeed or maybe it will fail, but they’ll just try. It’s a different matter everything’s fair game, everything’s just… There’s no boundaries. So that is… It’s inspiring to watch that.
Could you see yourself hosing SNL Live. Try that?
Oh goodness. It will be an honour. That will be an honour to do something like that. I’m a big fan. And I’ve sort of worked with them, Kristen and Maya and… It was… Really what it was like working with girls who are like… Have grown watching them, loved and idolized. So it was really like, “Wow! I can’t believe I’m actually doing… ” When that happens, it’s just really quite surreal at times.
I love Kristen as well. She’s so likeable and…
She has a charm, that really translates from all of her work.
Yeah. No matter what she does on the screen.
Yeah. She shines.
Was it hard with the script to balance out going completely over the top with some of the craziest stuff and also keeping the emotional realness to it?
I think that’s why the film succeeds, is that it does do this huge comedy pieces that are embellished and kind of the comedic effect and stuff. But they ground them in a way that you… That’s like the whole sequence in the bridal store, it’s like, it’s sort of more horrific than… You know what I mean. And it comes from this place of… And then there’s Annie who’s just still denying that it’s her fault and want to take responsibility for. It’s that drama or that that’s so compelling, I think. And somehow makes all of that kind of grotesqueness of the vomiting stuff work. It does. Because I remember reading that and thinking how would that translate. It fully does. And that’s a testament to Judd, Paul and Wiig.
Yeah. It’s good. It’s hilarious. It’s not too gross-out.
No. It’s somehow… It’s more horrible. You’re just like, “Oh my goodness”. [laughter]
I was trying to think about one other film this one is like, I couldn’t really come up with much. I know it’s being marketed as like a female “Hangover”. I don’t think it’s quite the same.
It’s not. I think it’s wonderful to be compared to such a… To a film that’s obviously so successful and so hilarious. And I loved the film and… It’s similar as that it’s just about a wedding. About this ritual surrounding it. And The Hangover really paved the way in terms of just exposing how ridiculous they can be. But that’s kind of it. It’s really about Kristen’s character going through a difficult time and whether she can emotionally or financially afford it. It’s about that really, about her life disintegrating rather than… And you see her for a long period of time. And it’s unique. That’s why it’s hard to know sell. When I started to realize this is really unique. I’ve never seen this before. That’s pretty cool. That’s really cool.
And have such a strong group of women.
Strong group of women. I was reading it, initially I was thinking this is what? It’s still more… Like this… And knowing all these characters too, it absolutely is really rare. And I hope that it can succeed and that will then translate into more scripts like this. And more roles like this for women.
How involved was Judd in the present?
He was really hands-on, actually. Yeah, a lot during the rehearsal and then a lot on set, yeah. And also Barry Mandel, our other producer. He was really involved. I mean like during some of these sets on Greek was… In the sense it’s very collaborative. It really is collaborative, from the start as soon as you cast, like let’s just talk about the character from every angle and your ideas and lets look at people and lets look at things. That’s really rare. I’ve never really had… In terms of our producer and director and everybody kind of doing it together, that’s kind of a… Sort of a family.
Yeah he thinks that the big people he’s worked with before. And then it’s a nice little group.
Yeah. I think the way that he sort of approaches this material is very… It’s fair game.
What do you think is the secret to his success? ‘Cause he’s had such great films.
He really has. I think his films have a lot of thought. I think if you look at all of them they essentially really have… They’re hilarious and then obviously… I guess, men… He’s a lot of… Male friendships and men growing up, men taking responsibility. But you think that at the end of the day, what makes him is that he cared about the characters and not just two-dimensional stock comedy characters that you’d don’t invest in, but you really care about them. And as an audience you have to care who you’re watching otherwise you’ll just let… So I think all his films have that.
When it came to working with the other girls, was there anyone in the cast that just made you crack out or who do you think is funniest?
I liked a lot Melissa McCarthy. And she killed the film. She steals the show. She’s brilliant. And she knew… She sort of knows. So she would wind me up just with the look or a thing and Helen… Because she’s nothing like Megan. She’s actually, she’s feminine and beautiful and a mother and a wife. She’s the opposite to Megan. She’s just kind of utilitarian, very Midwestern kind of… Hysterical, very sort of asexual, and she’s is not at all. She’s the opposite. So she would… And also Kristen. And I’m a good audience too. I laugh a lot. I’m from Australia. I mean you always try to find humour in these sort of things.
Exactly. Always making fun of things. Melissa she’s hilarious. She seems to have no fear when it comes to going out there and doing it.
You know, I was just doing my interviews with her today and she was sort of saying how this was such an opportunity for her like to be… Because she’s known Kristen for many years. And it sort of had this character in her for a while, she said. And I was just… Like when she went in and did her vows. I think it was quite a different version of that character in the original script and she came in and sort of blew us away, and I like it, that’s actually better. And then it went from there. So it’s a lot of opportunity as an actor when you get the chance to try something and it works and it’s just whether you get that chance and actually she did. So.
And another funny Aussie in this as well, Rebel Wilson
Isn’t that lovely. Yeah, that was really great. I got to see her last night. She’s hysterical.
And I know you didn’t get any scenes with her, but did you get to see her on set…
We had a great night early on. We took all the girls out in a stretch limousine bus and we drove around Hollywood and Hollywood men, a male strip club on Hollywood Boulevard. It was hysterical…And I’ll just never forget it, it was priceless. And we had this crazy night, all these bachelorette parties and all of us sitting around, it was… Wendi bought me a lap dance, it was very very funny.
What goes on in male strip clubs?
What doesn’t go on. I mean it’s very funny, because you know, a female strip club is like the men… You kind of feel like they’re probably think that they go home with the women a little bit and the male one’s the women are like “Oh. you can put it away” [laughter]The dancers are probably kind of homosexual, that’s another [laughter] dimension to it. But it was lot of fun.
That’s funny. I feel like bachelorette parties are in some sense crazier than bachelor parties.
It is. Women you know, bachelorette.. I remember some girlfriend of mine had it on a boat and then they had a picnic and it was like this epic kind of, like a day long series of events that took place, quite unbelievable.
So after this film if someone asked you to be bridesmaid, will you say yes or no. [laughter]
I… It’s so funny. Because I’ve never been one, but I’ve talked to so many girlfriends and obviously all the girls on the film share their stories and I think that’s how this book, the script based on events in Annie and Kristen’s life, from real stories. And I’ve head about such things…like yeah, they had a great time doing it all the girlfriends of my are like I would never do it again. And Wendi’s hilarious because she’s been a bridesmaid 10 times this year. She says, “I get asked again I’ll be drawing up a contract. I’m spending like this much time and when it’s over, its over. There’s no more.” [laughter]
It’s a tough job I mean.
Have you done it?
Yeah. Once I… Luckily I wasn’t the maid of honour.
But yeah, you have to… I remember we had the dress and going “Oh, I have to buy this expensive dress”.
I had a girlfriend who did a really good thing. She said… Just got everybody the material and said just make it. Go to a seamstress and make it to whatever you… So that way you can wear it again and you can… Not just… Everybody likes different things and everyone have different shapes.
It’s an honour but at the same time, a lot of work. And it costs a lot.
Finally. No no these things are valid.
Why do you think that there is so many Australian actors that do so well here.
That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think we relate to the American culture fairly easily. I think we can do the accent fairly well. I think we are more and more like America than England probably now, as when I go home I feel there’s more… Or I think, just the world is a small place perhaps. And yeah, I’m very proud of the fact that that Australian artists are so successful with international. I think it’s a really… I think it should be celebrated and it’s a testament to our schools and our talent and everything.
I think also because our guys, I think, here the type of guys that go into acting, they’re usually more of a dramatic types. Whereas our guys are kind of rugged and…
That’s that theory too, yeah, kind of Australian men still have that sort of rugged quality or is harder to find. And that’s talking about it, I guess movie stars too, that’s something about that that’s very magnetic, you know, that audiences respond to. So yeah, it’s… People always ask what it is. I don’t know. Maybe we just get to do a lot of hard work. Nobody can see it. And then we come over here and… [laughter]
And just quickly, ”X Men First Class”. Can you tell me anything about that role or do you think that this film is different from all the other “X-Men” films.
Well, it’s… I play Moira McTaggart. I’m James McAvoy’s love interest in the film and I’m an… She’s in the comic. And she’s a CIA agent. And it’s got Bryan Singer on as a producer, Matthew Vaughn is directing it. So it’s… I haven’t seen the movie yet, but it’s set in the 60′s. It’s like a whole… It’s a prequel. So it’s a very… It’s sort of a new version, new invention of the franchise in a lot of ways. I think it’s… I think Matthew’s films also have a lot of heart and a sense of humour and like the mischievous quality too in that. And I feel like that he’ll bring that to this new, strong element.
Yeah. I think it’ll be great.