Rebel Wilson has fast been establishing herself as a bold comedic talent with a blisteringly fast mind for improvisation — but sometimes coming up with brilliant bits on the spot can have costly consequences. At least, that’s what she found out on her latest film, “Pitch Perfect.” Wilson stars as the self-branded Fat Amy, part of a scrappy all-girl a cappella group at a fictional southern college. During an early scene in which she’s showing off her “skills,” Fat Amy engages in what she describes as Mermaid Dancing. The only problem was that the production team was not quite ready for the move.
“You know, that cost them a lot of money because they didn’t know, obviously, I was going to go on the ground and start dancing,” she explains. “You know when you’re filming and you have the tape marks [on the ground], they’re usually like fluorescent tape? They were all over the concrete. And [director] Jason [Moore] wanted to use it in the movie, but they had to digital effect the tape out of the shot to be able to use it. I think it cost them like thousands and thousands of dollars just to use that joke.”
While Wilson is glad the bit made it into the movie, she doesn’t particularly think the move itself will catch on with audiences. “I mean, the problem is like club floors, they’re very disgusting,” she says. “So imagine if it started becoming a club craze where people were doing Mermaid Dancing on the ground. It’d be really gross like, ugh, this slime all over.”
As for incorporating improvisation into her work in “Pitch Perfect,” the Australian scene-stealer had a pretty simple approach, she says: “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.”
As it turns out, Wilson had no trouble surprising Moore — at least if early rehearsals were any indication. Wilson had originally intended to play Fat Amy as an American, and had even auditioned with an American accent. But with the grueling four-week rehearsal schedule, she found it too much to take.
“It was too exhausting so I started talking like [myself] and Jason Moore heard me,” she remembers. “I didn’t even know whether he knew I was Australian at first, and then he heard me talking like this and he’s like, ‘You’ve got to use that voice in the movie! You’ve got to!'”