20 Surprising Facts About Bridesmaids

L to R: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Byrne, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, and Ellie Kemper star in Bridesmaids (2011).
L to R: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Byrne, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, and Ellie Kemper star in Bridesmaids (2011). / Suzanne Hanover/Universal Studios

"These are smart, funny women," read one of the poster quotes for Bridesmaids, as if such a concept had previously been unfathomable to Hollywood’s critical elite. Not only did the Kristen Wiig comedy silence any chauvinists who believed that men had the monopoly on laughs, its box office haul also spearheaded a wave of female-fronted comedies ranging from Bachelorette to Booksmart and turned Melissa McCarthy into a bankable leading lady (it also earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress). A full decade on from its release, here’s a look at 20 facts you might not have known about the street-defecating, flight-disrupting, Wilson Phillips-reviving hit.

1. Knocked Up was responsible for Bridesmaids’ conception.

Chances are you’ve forgotten that Kristen Wiig was even in Knocked Up. But director Judd Apatow was so bowled over by her improvisational skills playing Katherine Heigl’s petulant boss Jill that he made her the offer of a lifetime. Not only did the comedy maestro want to put Wiig center stage in a movie, he wanted her to pen it, too. After she and co-writer Annie Mumolo pitched the idea of Bridesmaids, Apatow agreed to produce and the rest is Hollywood history (although, as Wiig told The Wall Street Journal, it took five years to make the dream a reality).

2. Kristen Wiig hated Bridesmaids’ most memorable scene.

The scene where all but one of the bridal party succumb to violent vomiting and diarrhea is unarguably Bridesmaids’ most memorable. But writer Wiig, who also starred as Annie, absolutely detested it. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, the actress admitted that all the gross-out humor had been added into the script by Apatow—much to her dismay. "When people say, 'Oh, we're gonna give more female-cenetred movies a chance,' you’re not reading the fine print, which is, 'Oh, but, they have to be like this.' They want to see women acting like guys."

3. Bridesmaids was intended to be a lot weirder.

The addition of some puking and pooping wasn’t the only compromise that Wiig and Mumolo had to make. Their original script also contained several more absurdist sequences, as the former told IndieWire in 2021. “When we were running around to find Lillian, we were going to find a woman lying on the ground. We're like, 'It's Lillian—she’s dead!' And then we were like, 'Oh wait—it's not Lillian.' And then we just keep running." But this darkly comic setup was deemed just a little too weird and was omitted from the final edit.

4. Jon Hamm was Ellie Kemper’s high school drama teacher.

Jon Hamm and Ellie Kemper arrive at the Bridesmaids premiere in Westwood, California in 2011.
Jon Hamm and Ellie Kemper arrive at the Bridesmaids premiere in Westwood, California in 2011. / Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Long before Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jon Hamm and Ellie Kemper also both bagged roles in Bridesmaids, with the former playing Annie’s sleazy booty call Ted and the latter a painfully naive newlywed Becca. But their working relationship goes back even further. Incredibly, Hamm used to teach Kemper drama during his pre-fame years working at a St. Louis high school. In a 2010 interview with The A.V. Club, the former star of The Office revealed that Hamm was quite the popular teacher among her classmates. "He was definitely just as handsome back then," Kemper said, "and having this grown, tall man teach you theater, it was like having a hunk in the class."

5. Paul Rudd was cut from Bridesmaids.

Poor Paul Rudd spent an entire day falling over on an ice rink, only to see all his efforts end up on the cutting room floor. Rudd was cast in the minor Bridesmaids role of Annie’s crazed blind date, but director Paul Feig believed their disastrous encounter needlessly complicated the narrative and consigned it to the DVD's deleted scenes feature. “It just didn’t ring true that in addition to Jon [Hamm] and Chris [O’Dowd], she’d be also going out on other dates to try and find more love,” Feig told Entertainment Weekly in 2017. However, Feig left it to Apatow to break the bad news to Rudd.

6. Bridesmaids’ sex scenes were symbolic.

So it turns out there’s a reason why Annie keeps her bra on during those awkward sex scenes with friend with benefits Ted—and it’s not for modesty. On the audio commentary for Bridesmaids’ DVD release, it’s revealed that Wiig and Feig wanted this to represent the character’s inability to truly open up to Hamm’s sleazeball. Of course, Annie does go fully topless when she later gets into bed with second love interest Nathan (O’Dowd), which apparently signifies how she’s far more at ease, both physically and emotionally, with the charming police officer.

7. Rebel Wilson auditioned for Melissa McCarthy’s role in Bridesmaids.

Rebel Wilson was a virtual unknown when she auditioned to play Bridesmaids’ scene-stealer Megan, so it was perhaps little surprise when the role went to the more established Melissa McCarthy instead. (The Aussie wasn’t the only notable name to try out for the part: Busy Phillips, who’d worked on Freaks and Geeks with Feig and Apatow, threw her hat into the ring, too.) But at least Wilson received a consolation prize: producers were so impressed by her comedic talents that they wrote the part of Annie’s irritating roommate Brynn specially for her instead.

8. Bridesmaids’ co-writer played the nervous flyer.

Bridesmaids (2011) co-writers—and co-stars—Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo.
Bridesmaids (2011) co-writers—and co-stars—Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. / Suzanne Hanover/Universal Studios

Remember the nervous flyer who sits next to Annie on her disastrous economy flight to Las Vegas? Well, she was played by the film’s co-writer, Annie Mumolo. Mumolo was actually supposed to have a much more significant role as a bridesmaid but had to settle for a brief cameo when she learned she was pregnant several months before the film was due to start shooting. Luckily, Mumolo doesn’t regret missing out on more screen time. “I had my son a week and a half after we wrapped," she told IndieWire in 2021. "Now I have my amazing 10-year-old son that I would just never trade for it."

In 2012, Wiig and Mumolo were nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for their work on Bridesmaids.

9. Bridesmaids roommates Rebel Wilson and Matt Lucas became real-life flatmates.

Rebel Wilson didn’t just find a breakthrough role when she bagged the part of Brynn in Bridesmaids—she also found a new BFF. The Pitch Perfect star got on so well with Matt Lucas, a.k.a. her character’s equally annoying brother and roommate Gil, during filming that they decided to move in together for real. Just a year after sharing the screen in Bridesmaids, the pair began sharing a swanky apartment in West Hollywood. During a 2012 interview with Conan O'Brien, Wilson admitted that "instead of annoying Kristen Wiig, we’re now annoying all the neighbors nearby."

10. Melissa McCarthy took inspiration for her Bridesmaids character from an unlikely source.

Melissa McCarthy channels her inner Mayor of Flavortown in Bridesmaids (2011).
Melissa McCarthy channels her inner Mayor of Flavortown in Bridesmaids (2011). / Suzanne Hanover/Universal Studios

Melissa McCarthy bagged an unexpected Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her hilarious turn as no-nonsense bridesmaid—and sister of the groom—Megan. And it turns out that an exuberant celebrity chef played a part in her performance. While appearing on Conan in 2011, McCarthy revealed that she based her memorable character on none other than Guy Fieri. And not just his fiery personality, either: The actress even wanted to sport the Food Network star’s signature Kangol hat, spiky white hair, and backwards sunglasses. Ultimately, the producers decided she might be going a little too Method.

11. Bridesmaids nearly featured Matt Damon.

Paul Rudd wasn’t the only impossible-to-dislike A-lister who was robbed of an appearance in one of the funniest films of the ‘00s. Speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters trade show two years after Bridesmaids was released, Feig revealed that Matt Damon was featured in the original script. The Good Will Hunting star would have played himself—he was supposed to bump into Annie during a forest-based fantasy sequence. But in the end, Damon’s cameo was yet another moment that was considered a little too surreal, so the scene was cut before it got to the filming stage.

12. Chris O’Dowd was supposed to be American.

Chris O’Dowd has proven he can pull off an American accent in Girls and Love After Love, but the funnyman prefers to perform in his own Irish brogue. In 2019, The I.T. Crowd graduate told GQ that he wants to represent his homeland whenever possible, while cheekily admitting that it also make things easier on him. Luckily, Bridesmaids’s producers soon realized its appeal, too. Officer Rhodes was supposed to be a U.S. native, but after hearing O’Dowd audition in all his charming Irishness, Apatow told him to stick to what he knows best.

13. Another movie derailed Bridesmaids’ Vegas plans.

The bachelorette party never makes it to Las Vegas after an inebriated Annie causes their flight to be rerouted to Wyoming. In the original script, however, the girls did get to experience the joys of Sin City. But Apatow believed that this plotline would be unfavorably compared with The Hangover’s similar premise—which beat Bridesmaids to the punch by two years—and demanded a rewrite. It’s fair to say that Mumolo didn’t appreciate hearing about this significant change, recalling to Mercury News, “I was like: ‘I’m going to throw up. Something’s going on inside my body.'”

14. Bridesmaids’ bridal shower was staged at Wayne Manor.

Helen’s (Rose Byrne) house, and the venue for the Parisian-themed bridal shower where Annie famously causes a scene, has quite the history. The Pasadena estate at also doubled as a Chinese Consulate in Jackie Chan actioner Rush Hour, Kenneth Branagh’s home in Dead Again, and Eddie Murphy’s mansion in Hollywood satire Bowfinger. But it’s best known for its place in superhero folklore: The property was used as Wayne Manor in the Adam West Batman series and its 1966 big screen adaptation. Less impressively, it also featured in Scary Movie 2.

15. Bridesmaids wasn’t supposed to feature a wedding.

It’s hard to imagine Bridesmaids without all the cast members singing along to Wilson Phillips’s karaoke favorite at the wedding reception. But despite revolving entirely around the lead-up to Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) nuptials, writers Wiig and Mumolo initially intended to rob audiences of seeing the event itself. “I feel like when we started writing it, we never saw it as a wedding movie," Wiig told Blast magazine in 2011. "In the earlier drafts for the first three years, there wasn’t even a wedding in it at the end."

16. Wilson Phillips once reenacted their famous Bridesmaids cameo.

Bridesmaids delivered a jolt to the career of '90s pop trio Wilson Phillips thanks to their joyous performance of “Hold On,” which closed out the movie. The band was more than happy to reenact their big-screen moment in 2015 when asked by a maid of honor fan. Jaclyn Reutens told ABC News that she wanted to organize something “really outrageous” for her pal Liz’s reception to make up for the lack of a bachelorette party, so she persuaded the chart-toppers to fly all the way from California to Bali to become real-life wedding singers for a day.

17. Several dirty jokes were removed from Bridesmaids as a sign of respect.

Jill Clayburgh and Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids (2011).
Jill Clayburgh and Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids (2011). / Suzanne Hanover/Universal Studios

Two-time Oscar nominee Jill Clayburgh, who played Annie's mother, passed away from leukemia in November 2010, several months before Bridesmaids’ premiere. As a sign of respect, producer Apatow decided to remove several dirty jokes that Clayburgh had uttered in her scenes with Wiig. He later explained to Collider, “I just thought, ‘That can’t be the last thing she ever says in a film.’ We did debate it. We were like, ‘That’s funny, but that would be questionable.’ She was the nicest woman.”

18. Bridesmaids is Judd Apatow’s all-time highest-grossing production.

Judd Apatow has more than two dozen film credits to his name as producer, so it’s quite the feat that Bridesmaids remains the highest-grossing film with his involvement. The comedy took in more than $288 million at the worldwide box office—$60 million more than its closest competitor, Knocked Up, and a colossal $200 million more than the likes of Year One, Funny People, and Anchorman. Remarkably, Bridesmaids didn’t make the top spot when it opened in the U.S.; it was pushed into second place during its opening weekend by the Marvel juggernaut Thor.

19. There will never be a Bridesmaids sequel

Unsurprisingly, considering Bridesmaids’ monster success, talk of a sequel has continued to follow the team around since 2011. Although several key players, including director Feig, have admitted they’re open to the idea, Wiig has explicitly stated on several occasions that she has no interest in revisiting her former glories. During a 2021 appearance on Andy Cohen’s Sirius XM show, the star explained, “I just don’t want it to be translated as a negative thing, because we obviously love the movie ... We feel like we told that story and we were just so excited to do other things."

20. Bridesmaids inspired Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.

There might never be another Bridesmaids film, but Wiig and Mumolo offered the next best thing in 2021 with Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Co-written by and starring the pair, the unashamedly silly comedy was actually inspired by several outtakes from their first venture. "We would go off on tangents when writing scenes between Lillian and her mom," Wiig told People. "None of those scenes made it in the movie because they had nothing to do with anything!" Still, the duo were so enamored with these non sequiturs that they decided to flesh them out into another modern comedy classic (which also features a lot of the surreal humor that they originally wanted to include in Bridesmaids).