Rebel Wilson is “Pitch Perfect”
By: Lynn Barker
When it comes to movies about galpals on the prowl, the new face to watch is hilarious Aussie Rebel Wilson. She recently hosted the “Chelsea Lately” show and played Kristen Wiig’s roomie in Bridesmaids. Rebel co-starred in Bachelorette with Kirsten Dunst and Isla Fisher and it seems that the comic star either ad-libs or gets the best zinger lines in her films. Pitch Perfect, the new movie about rival college a cappella singing groups, is no exception. Rebel as “Fat Amy” is simply hilarious.
If you aren’t familiar with this fun gal who was headed to law school before the acting bug bit, check it out.
Kidzworld: When did you know you were funny or destined to be a performer?
- Rebel: I never thought I’d end up being an actress. I thought I’d go into serious stuff like law or politics. So when I finished high school, I became a youth ambassador for Australia and I was based in South Africa for a year. I got malaria really badly and was put into intensive care and I had a hallucination that I was at the Oscars and I won and I was a really good actress. (The dream) was so real that when I came out of hospital, I started saying to people, “I’m going to become an actress”.
I’m very serious and a bit shy and people were like, “I don’t think you should do that. You just got into law school”. I went back to Australia the next month and started at a theater school. It took a while (to become an actress) because girls who look like me or were from the poorer area where I’m from in Australia, you don’t think you’re going to become a movie star.
Kidzworld: When did the acting thing start working for you?
- Rebel: I started writing my own plays and putting them on, and singing and dancing in them. I just started getting attention very quickly after that. I got onto Australian TV, which led to coming over here.
Kidzworld: Were you part of any singing groups in school growing up?
- Rebel: I was actually part of an a cappella group. It was called Twelve Boys because there were 12 girls in it. How original! I went to a Christian school so we would sing church songs at people’s weddings and funerals and stuff. They were kind of pretty, but we had to wear these peasant blouses and disgusting velvet long skirts. We’d just stand in position and belt out these songs in the churches. It was good practice for singing. I was an alto in that group and, in this film, in the Bellas, I’m also singing alto, which was good.
Kidzworld: You are hilarious in this film. I’ll lay odds you ad-libbed a lot, right?
- Rebel: Kay Cannon wrote such an awesome, hilarious script, but my style is to see what she’s got on the page and take that as a starting point. And then go la-la-la-la-la for as long as Jason (Moore the director) will let me. Also, because I’m partnered with Adam Devine in the movie, he’s a great improviser as well. So they had hours and hours of footage of us bantering back and forth saying crazy stuff to each other.
Kidzworld: Did you come up with the mermaid dance you do in the film?
- Rebel: Yeah and that cost them a lot of money because they didn’t know I was going to lie down on the ground and start dancing. But they had all these pieces of tape on the floor (for actors’ “marks”). So after they filmed me, they had to digitally remove the tape from the shot. I think it cost them thousands and thousands of dollars just to use that joke. (She chuckles.)
Kidzworld: Are you a fan of Ariel?
- Rebel: Oh yeah. I love The Little Mermaid. I just got a new house here and it has a pool so I pretend to look like a mermaid in the middle of the night. It kind of distresses me. I don’t know why. I always loved that movie growing up.
Kidzworld: Do you think it could become the next dance craze?
- Rebel: That could be good. The problem is club floors are pretty disgusting. So imagine if that dance became a club craze and people were doing mermaid dancing on the ground. That would be pretty gross. Slime all over.
Kidzworld: When ordered to jog by the head of the a cappella singers, you also do that lying down. Do you think vertical running will catch on?
- Rebel: Vertical running was added. I did the horizontal line the previous day in the other scene. Jason was like, “Can you think of anything funny to say in that bit?” And I said, “I’m vertically running.” So we put that in in post. It’s a good callback. I like callbacks on jokes.
Kidzworld: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
- Rebel: The best karaoke song I do is Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock,” because I like the chorus. I don’t like karaoke because the mikes always seem worn out. I’m too professional to go out and do it. (She laughs.)
Kidzworld: What’s your personal style?
- Rebel: I’m a little preppy with a gangster edge. (She shows off her ring bling, with her name in diamonds across both hands). They custom made this for me in Brooklyn. But I also like comfortable as well. I don’t know if that’s a style: dressing for comfort. (She giggles.
Kidzworld: What was the biggest challenge for you in this movie?
- Rebel: Because we have the 10-part harmonies in just about every number except for “Party in the U.S.A., when you’re not used to singing harmonies, it’s really difficult. We also thought we’d get vocal coaching but when we got to Louisiana, they said “No. You’re supposed to learn it yourself”. So we’d get the full tracks and we’d get that in one ear and your part in the other ear. You’d basically have to sit there and learn. It doesn’t sound good when you’re just singing your bit, but when it’s in the group, it sounds really really good. So even though I’ve done musical theater singing, it was quite hard to blend in.
Kidzworld: You auditioned using an American accent, but you wound up using your own Australian accent. Why?
- Rebel: We had the four weeks of rehearsals. Usually if I’m doing an accent in the movie, I keep the accent in character the whole time but because we were doing 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. rehearsals every day, I just couldn’t keep it up. It was too exhausting. So I started talking in my own accent and Jason said “You have to use that voice in the movie”. And I said, “No, I want to be an actor and do acting. I don’t want to use my real voice.” And he said, “Trust me, it’ll be great.” That’s another reason why I improvised. I changed the character a bit (from the script) because she wasn’t written as an Australian girl.
Kidzworld: What was your favorite music in this and your favorite song to sing?
- Rebel: I really love it when I get to sing “Turn the Beat Around,” because that’s when (my character) Fat Amy gets to show her stuff and the big note at the end. Some scenes were really hard to shoot. All the night stuff was performed in the freezing cold in Louisiana. All the beautiful stuff in the swimming pool, that was like freezing too. We had little heating pads in our jackets because it was that cold.
My favorite scene was probably the finale, which was super tough because that routine is about 3-4 minutes. When you film movie musicals, you don’t perform the full number. They’re usually cut up into different shots, but Jason made us do the full number full out about 40 times. We were giving it (our all) every single take because there was a real crowd there, so we didn’t want to bore them. But it was so much fun and we were working together so well, all the girls. The crowd was loving it. It was almost like we actually won the competition. There was a lot of group camaraderie that day.
Catch Pitch Perfect in limited areas this Friday and going wider Oct. 5th.