Wiig: ‘SNL’ triple threat emerges from ‘Bridesmaids’

Women's Impact Report 2011: Kristen Wiig

Until recently, Kristen Wiig was known primarily for her neurotic, attention-seeking characters like Penelope or her wine-swilling take on Kathie Lee Gifford on “Saturday Night Live.” But the runaway theatrical success of “Bridesmaids,” which she co-wrote and stars in, has proved that Tina Fey’s not the only triple-threat comedienne to hail from “SNL’s” ranks.

Wiig, now in her seventh season on “SNL,” admits that the popularity of “Bridesmaids,” which has grossed more than $283 million worldwide prior to its availability on DVD/Blu-ray this week, came as a complete surprise. “You never know when you start on these projects,” says Wiig. “You hope that people have the same vision you have when they see the movie and they like it, but you never know how it’s gonna turn out. So I’m still in shock.”

The 38-year-old actress recently received her third Emmy nomination for her comedic supporting work on “SNL,” and despite seven seasons on the show, sounds positively giddy when talking about her “day job.” “Showing up to work every week for the past six years with people I consider my family, having fun and putting on a show every Saturday — it’s a dream job,” she says. “Plus half the time I’m on the show I’m like, ‘Am I just making an ass out of myself? ‘ ”

“It’s this self-deprecating humor that’s part of her appeal. “I have never seen anyone like her,” says Judd Apatow, who produced “Bridesmaids” and cast Wiig in her first high-profile film role in “Knocked Up.” “You root for her. She is hilarious and is also a strong dramatic actress.”

Now Wiig is co-producing and starring as the title character in “Imogene,” with Annette Bening. “It’s this small indie movie that a bunch of people came together to make,” says Wiig. “That’s what filmmaking’s all about.”

Title: Actress-writer-producer
Role model: “I am very inspired by the women I’m working with right now (on ‘Imogene’). Writer (Michelle Morgan), co-director (Shari Springer Berman), co-star (Annette Bening). They are all amazing!”
Career mantra: “I only pick projects that I love. And it’s just about doing the work, keeping it simple and having a sense of humor during it all.”
Leisure pursuits: “I’m an old lady. I like being home in my rocking chair, knitting, wearing a shawl and tiny glasses, with lace up boots and a grey bun on top of my head.”