This summer, when Kristen Wiig wasn’t shooting scenes with co-stars Billy Crudup and Paul Giamatti for the upcoming Pretty Bird, she found herself spending her precious few days off dealing with movers and unpacking boxes in her new New York apartment. But this full and harried schedule is nothing new for the actress, who has been having a whirlwind few years, ever since getting plucked from elite Los Angeles comedy troupe The Groundlings in 2005 to join Saturday Night Live. After all, she specializes in improv.
“I remember when I got the call [from SNL] on a Wednesday and they said to be there on a Saturday and then I had two weeks to find an apartment,” she says, laughing at the memory of her hasty flight from Los Angeles. “I had to quickly get my stuff and move.”
Since then, Wiig has been commuting back and forth to Hollywood, working on Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, the upcoming Walk Hard and Sept. 7’s The Brothers Solomon, directed by Bob Odenkirk and costarring Will Arnett.
But now, the actress is relieved to be settling back into SNL’s Rockefeller Center headquarters for her third season. “It’s nice when the summer dies down. I feel like I’m going back to school and getting out my Trapper Keeper.”
QUICK DRAW: Working with comedy “It” boy Apatow has been fruitful for Wiig—she’s even working on a script for him—but it often means making things up as they go along. “I auditioned for the part of the boss,” she says of Knocked Up, in which she plays an uptight TV exec. “But they just decided to have both of us. So we just sort of went for it….After, I had no idea what I did or if I was even going to be in that movie.”
RED EYE: Since Wiig’s writing partner, current Groundlings star Annie Mumolo, still lives in Los Angeles, the Rochester, N.Y., native has become a specialist in cross-country flights. “You just fly to L.A. Sunday morning,” Wiig sighs. “It’s not fun.” Of course, hectic workweeks at SNL means Wiig needs to be back in the studio in time for Tuesday’s all-night rehearsal and writing sessions. At least the company is entertaining. “They bring in food,” she explains.
INCOGNITO: Despite her success on screen, Wiig has managed to escape attention from crazed fans. “I’m not that recognizable, I guess,” she says.
LATE BLOOMER: The 33-year-old actress didn’t grow up wanting to be a star. “I was never a performer,” she says. “I was terrified if I had to give a speech in class.” But after taking a drama course at her alma mater, the University of Arizona, Wiig was hooked. And doing sketch comedy came to her naturally, stage fright be damned. “It didn’t seem like acting. It got me in front of people,” she says.