People

Published: Wednesday July 3, 2013 MYT 8:30:00 AM
Updated: Thursday July 4, 2013 MYT 6:45:42 PM

Shy sex symbol

Kristen Wiig poses at the US premiere of ‘Despicable Me 2’ at Universal Citywalk in California on June 22.

Kristen Wiig poses at the US premiere of ‘Despicable Me 2’ at Universal Citywalk in California on June 22.

Comedienne Kristen Wiig, voice of Gru’s love interest Lucy in Despicable Me 2, is embarrassed at being labelled a hottie.

KRISTEN Wiig is cringing, wincing, squirming in her chair and looking generally uncomfortable.

The reason: the suggestion that she might be considered above-averagely attractive, even though there is plenty of evidence to that effect.

The comedic actress is trying to respond to a question about whether comediennes have to be easy on the eye in order to make it in show business these days, as the success of funny women such as Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman and Wiig herself has led industry watchers to surmise.

Wiig is speaking to a group of reporters about her new movie in the animated feature Despicable Me 2. In this sequel to the 2010 film, she lends her voice to Lucy, the love interest of the reformed super villain Gru, played by Steve Carell. Lucy, voiced by Kristen Wiig, and Gru, voiced by Steve Carell in ‘Despicable Me 2’.

Lucy, voiced by Kristen Wiig, and Gru, voiced by Steve Carell in ‘Despicable Me 2’.

This means audiences will get to hear but not see Wiig, who these days is recognised not just for being one of the funniest women in Hollywood, but also a bona fide hottie and a thinking man’s sex symbol.

That recognition came when she began taking off the unflattering costumes and wigs she wore on the comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, on which she was a regular from 2005 to last year, and started appearing in films such as the 2011 hit Bridesmaids, which was hailed as a watershed moment for women in comedy.

Although Wiig was on People magazine’s Most Beautiful People list in 2009, any reference to her appearance leaves her red-faced, as Bridesmaids co-star Jon Hamm has revealed.

On this occasion, all it takes is a question about whether the industry now demands that its comediennes be good-looking, and how she feels about being identified as part of this trend.

“I never thought about it, I don’t think of myself that way,” says Wiig, whom American audiences are used to seeing dominating a comedy sketch or doing a celebrity impression with deadly accuracy.

Now, at this interview, the only impression she seems capable of is that of a deer in headlights.

“I don’t know, it’s a very good question. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know.”

If she is wracked by self-doubt over her aesthetic appeal, the 39-year-old certainly looks every inch the Hollywood star – one who can dazzle with her wit one minute, and smoulder in her underwear on a magazine cover the next (as she does in the June/July issue of Harper’s Bazaar in the United States).

This is even more apparent in the flesh, when the actress’ hair, clothes and rail-thin figure all appear to be perfectly on trend.

Yet in this and other interviews, this camera-ready facade is juxtaposed with a palpable awkwardness that seems at times to see Wiig almost folding into herself out of sheer embarrassment.

On the press day for Despicable Me 2, she sits next to co-star Carell with her shoulders slightly hunched as they talk about the movie, emitting the occasional nervous giggle to deflect questions about her success or personal life.

There is reticence even when discussing her biggest triumph to date, the film Bridesmaids, which she co-wrote and starred in alongside Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy and Hamm.

It was a surprise hit. The surprise coming mainly from the fact that female-driven comedies are rare, and rarely successful, while this one went on to earn more than US$288mil (RM864mil) worldwide. Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumolo were nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.

This got Hollywood looking at women and comedy with new eyes, which paved the way for other female-centric material and writers.

When asked about the so-called “Bridesmaids effect”, however, Wiig says she has no idea if the movie made a real difference.

“I have no idea, really, about the impact of the movie. It’s hard for me to be on this side of it and see that.

“If more female comedies are being made or greenlit and writers are getting a chance, I think that’s amazing, but it’s so hard for me to have real knowledge of the impact of it. I don’t really know.”

The effect on her life and career, on the other hand, is undeniable.

“With any actor, once you’re in a successful film, you have more opportunities and offers that come your way.”

She acknowledges that people recognise her more, too, but adds that the recognition “is always a little weird”.

Wiig is going to continue to be in the public eye for some time, though.

Although she recently confirmed that there will not be a sequel to Bridesmaids – telling Harper’s Bazaar that “we would have made a lot of money if there was a second one, but that’s not my goal in my creative life” – the actress has a slew of high-profile projects coming up, including the sequel Anchorman2: The Legend Continues, the long-gestating (and hugely anticipated) movie with fellow Saturday Night Live alum Will Ferrell later this year.

She will also headline the upcoming Ben Stiller comedy-drama The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, out this Christmas.

She admits that juggling all this can be overwhelming.

“It’s a lot, and I learnt very quickly that you have to be very rigid with your time off, and you can’t compromise it,” says Wiig, who is said to be dating Fabrizio Moretti, the 33-year-old Brazilian-Italian drummer from indie rock band The Strokes.

“Because sometimes you’ll say, ‘Oh, I’ll take this month or this day off’, then something comes up.

“And you really have to say ‘no’ and be by yourself or with your friends and your family because that’s what really matters….”

Her voice fades into a whisper at the end of that sentence, almost as if she is thinking she has said too much.

She quickly shuts down further conversation about anything not related to her career. “Oh, I don’t ... we don’t ... I don’t comment on my personal life,” she says lightly when asked about Moretti.

Wiig gives little away during the chat, but as fans of her understated comedy style know – from the barely suppressed frustration of her character in Bridesmaids, to the passive-aggressive perfection of her scenes in Knocked Up (2007) – what she leaves unsaid can often express much more.

In this interview, there was an undercurrent of incredulity at any suggestion that she might be unusual in any way.

She laughs loudly, for example, when asked if she exercises every day to maintain her figure.

“I don’t work out every day. I don’t. This summer, I’m really hoping I can get into a fitness regimen. But I do walk and I do yoga.”

How she winds down after work is, “sometimes I just need to be around people and I’ll go with my friends, sometimes I just need to be by myself. Kind of like anyone else. Yeah, I’m a pretty normal person,” she says with a tone that implies the question is absurd.

As for whether that is true, thanks to interviews like these, her fans are none the wiser. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Despicable Me 2 opens in Malaysian cinemas tomorrow.

Tags / Keywords: Kristen Wiig, Despicable Me 2, Lucy

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