She may not have made it onto Vanity Fair’s women-in-comedy cover, but Casey Wilson is one female that fans of “Saturday Night Live” will soon find familiar.
The 27-year-old is the newest member of the “SNL” cast, and though Wilson has some time to bide before she can make signature characters, like her quadriplegic stripper, a Saturday-night standby, her comedy bona fides suggest that “SNL” may have a Fey-level phenom on its hands.
This summer, Wilson’s “Bride Wars” script starts shooting in Boston, with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway in the leads; she and her co-writer and frequent partner-in-comedy June Raphael will both take small roles in the film.
Wilson will also be clocking screen time with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in Nora Ephron’s new flick.
In other words — when success comes in Hollywood, it comes at a gallop.
Here, Wilson talks to Style.com about saddling up for the ride of her life.
Q: Not like you’re a disinterested party, but, pace Hitchens, are women funny?
Wilson: Well, obviously I think so. And I have to tell you — “Saturday Night Live” has this reputation as a real boys’ club, but my experience has been totally, completely the opposite of that. I walked into a situation where not only are the female writers and performers absolutely as important to the show as the men, they’re arguably more important. Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph — when they speak, everyone listens. Because they’re freaking hilarious.
Q: Was it always your goal to be on “Saturday Night Live”?
Wilson: Pretty much, yeah, but it wasn’t like I went straight for it. Feeling like I was ready to send in my tape took me a while. After I graduated from NYU, June [Raphael] and I started doing this two-woman show, which we wound up taking to the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival, which in turn landed us a literary agent, which then led to our moving to L.A. and working on stuff like “Bride Wars.” We thought everyone would love us as actors, but the industry was basically like, no, you’re writers.
Q: How did you manage to turn that impression around?
Wilson: Well, June and I were still performing together, and I did some improv and some one-off shows; I kept myself in it. And I’d do the occasional audition, as well. But, I don’t know, there was some kind of fearlessness I was missing — in order to succeed as a performer, and maybe especially as a performer of comedy, you have to have crazy nerve. Molly Shannon, for example, is someone I’ve always really looked up to, because her comedy is so physical and wild and unembarrassed and brave. If you’re going to be part of a nationally televised show that airs live and do sketches that haven’t even been brainstormed a week earlier, you really can’t be afraid to fail.
Q: What got you over the fear? Or are you over it?
Wilson: I hesitate to even mention this, because it seems like kind of an ‘oh poor you’ thing to talk about in the context of an interview, but OK, so — my mom died a couple years ago, very unexpected. I went into lockdown for a while, just leaning on the writing; that felt like the safe thing to do. About a year and a half later, I started going out for parts again and getting back on stage. And nothing had changed except that I felt like, screw it, I might as well do whatever the hell I feel like doing. There’s nothing to lose. And then things started to move very fast.
Q: Are you comfortable with how fast your career is moving right now? Or is the sudden success freaking you out?
Wilson: Maybe because I have a sense of the process that got me to this point, I mean, the “Bride Wars” rewrites, the meetings, the improv nights, I’m not sure it does feel like sudden success. Everything related to “SNL,” that was very sudden — from the time I found out I was joining the cast to the time I could read on a blog that someone watching the show thinks I’m fat, that was about 30 days. That blog part, that could’ve moved a little more slowly. But hey — it’s all material, right?