One of the most memorable lines in the Pitch Perfect trailer comes from Rebel Wilson. The Australian actress admitted to Movie Fanatic when we visited with her recently that her bit about crystal meth and not doing it… was purely improv. “I never remember those lines because most things you don’t remember what you said because they’re not rehearsed or anything,” Wilson said and laughed. Even if she didn’t remember uttering it, she was quite proud of herself. “I saw that in the final cut. I thought that was a pretty good line!”
Wilson cautioned that although she could improv and use her comic prowess, the script was too good to go too far off point. Yet, director Jason Moore encouraged Wilson to do what she does best.
“It’s 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 just go ‘la la la la la’ for as long as Jason will let me,” she said and laughed. Since what was on the page was solid, not everything Wilson improvised made it in the film, but she promised audiences will see it. “There will be hours and hours of footage of us like bantering back and forth and saying crazy stuff to each other on the DVD.”
Wilson seems to have come out of nowhere and taken over. She stole scenes in Bridesmaids and What to Expect When You’re Expecting, anchored the stellar Bachelorette and now will certainly blow up huge thanks to her role as Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect. Interestingly enough, a showbiz life for her almost didn’t happen. It began in the most unlikely of places… on her deathbed in Africa.
“I never thought that I would end up being an actress. I thought I’d go into serious stuff like law or politics,” Wilson said.
She was a youth ambassador for her home country and was sent to Southern Africa for a year of goodwill work. “I got malaria really badly and was put in intensive care. They give you these cocktail drugs to fix you so you don't die, and I had a hallucination that I was at the Oscars and I won! It was so real that when I came out of hospital I started saying to people I'm going to become an actress,” Wilson said.
“People were like, ‘Oh, I don't think you should do that. You're going into law school.’ But I said, ‘No.’ So I went back to Australia the next month and started at a theater school in Australia.”
She didn’t find acceptance in the field right away, largely, she felt, due to her appearance and where she grew up. “It took a while 'cause I think girls who looked like me and were from the poorer area where I'm from in Australia never think, ‘I'm gonna be a movie star.’ You just didn't think that would happen to girls like me where I'm from,” Wilson added.
She took it upon herself to create roles that would get her seen. “I started writing my own plays and putting them on and singing and dancing in them. I very quickly got attention by doing that and got into Australian TV, which then led to coming over here.”
Even though she had a background in musical theater, Wilson found the a cappella singing a bit of a challenge in Pitch Perfect. “Because we had the 10-part harmonies in basically every number, and when you're not used to singing harmonies… it's really difficult,” Wilson said. “So even though I've done musical theater singing, it was quite hard to blend in.”
Wilson and her castmates excelled in the singing aspect of Pitch Perfect and none more so than in the film’s final performance. Consequently, we learned, that was Wilson’s favorite part of the entire film.
“I loved that scene, but it was super tough. When you film movie musicals you don't do the full number throughout. Jason will cut it up into different shots, but he made us do that number full out I think about 40 times,” Wilson admitted.
“There was a real crowd there and we didn't want to bore them. So we were really giving it every single day and singing along. But, in the end it was just so much fun. We were all working so well together -- all the girls -- and the crowd was loving it.”