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Bridesmaids’ star talks new film, career in supporting roles

Courtesy of MCT

Wendi McLendon-Covey has made a career out of playing wacky supporting characters. She is most well-known for her role on the TV series “Reno 911!,” and has also guest starred on shows such as “The Office,” “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “Rules of Engagement.”

Now she stars in the new comedy “Bridesmaids,” which opens Friday. The film also stars Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Rose Byrne.

Much of McLendon-Covey’s experience has been in the field of improv comedy. In the late 1990s, she performed at the Groundling Theater in Los Angeles.

“I just fell in love with it,” she said in a conference call. “It came sort of naturally to me. I love doing it, and I’m lucky that I got to perform with so many great people.”

Wiig, Rudolph and fellow cast member Melissa McCarthy performed at the Groundling Theater alongside McLendon-Covey.

“We sort of came through the program together,” McLendon-Covey said. “(The movie is) kind of a family reunion.”

On the set of “Bridesmaids,” the actors would always perform the scene as scripted first. Subsequent takes were devoted to improv and trying to make the movie as funny as possible.

McLendon-Covey plays Rita in “Bridesmaids,” the oldest bridesmaid of the group. She describes the character as a bored married woman looking to add any excitement to her life she can.

“I’m just a real downer, and I really need to go have a bachelorette party,” she said. “Nothing’s really wrong. I just need to get a job.”

McLendon-Covey said Rita is just another example of the unorthodox, annoying characters she likes to play.

“I like to play the weirdos,” she said. “I like to play the people that are hard to like. To me, that’s always funnier.”

These roles appeal to McLendon-Covey because she finds them more interesting than straight leading roles.

“You get to say and do things that you would never say and do in real life,” she said. “It’s fun to get to bother everybody.”

McLendon-Covey also has a recurring role as Liz on the CBS sitcom “Rules of Engagement.” She said her time working on the show has been one of the most positive experiences of her acting career.

“I’ve never been on a set where everybody is so happy to be there,” she said. “Everybody is just in love with the show, happy to be there and very supportive. At the end of the day, they just want it to be funny.”

Much of McLendon-Covey’s TV work has consisted of brief guest roles. She said she likes keeping her appearances short.

“You get to go in, do your thing, and then roll out,” she said. “You don’t get involved in any of the politics if there is any on the set. They’re always really nice to you. You get to play a variety of characters and you’re not tied down.”

Despite her extensive experience in improv, McLendon-Covey said scripted work can be just as exciting.

“It’s just a different muscle,” she said. “A writer has obviously done something there. It’s just up to me to articulate it how I can.”

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