Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig co-star in the new film “The Skeleton Twins” — which has it’s comic moments, but is largely a drama about a complicated sibling relationship.
In “The Skeleton Twins,” Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig play long-estranged siblings who both attempt suicide on the same day on opposite ends of the country.
Hader’s character Milo ends up returning to his hometown, where Wiig’s Maggie still lives — now with her husband, played by Luke Wilson. The film opens Friday.
Q: What was it about Milo that attracted you to this project?
A: I just related to the guy in a way. I related to that need to be accepted. I grew up in Oklahoma and made short films and stuff. Then I was out in L.A. and a small fish in an ocean filled with so many people doing what you want to do. And it can be discouraging. That seemed to come back to me when I read the script and read about Milo’s failure to really connect out there as an actor. I was touched by how he had to come back home and find the Ty Burrell character. He needed Ty’s character to tell him that he was worthy, that he was good at something.
I thought that was very moving for that character. Of course, the original relationship between the two of them was crazy, and inappropriate. But still, that was the first person he ever fell in love with. So going to that person to get affirmation. To ask, ‘I’m good, right?’ I just want to hear you say I’m good’ still resonates with me. We all need affirmation from people we love and trust — to tell us we are good at what we think is the best thing we can do.
Q: Speaking of Ty Burrell, don’t you think so many people will be surprised by him here, because all they may know is his role on ‘Modern Family’?
A: The first three days of shooting was all the stuff I did with Ty. He’s a classically-trained actor and he’s amazing. I learned a lot from him and it sort of set the tone for the whole movie.
Q: But taking it further — Ty with ‘Modern Family’ and you with ‘Saturday Night Live’ — can’t both of you understand the typecasting thing?
A: It’s weird. Typecasting is a real thing. I do it myself! [Laughs] I’ll often be in a meeting on a project and ask, ‘What about that person?’ You have an image in your head of what you want, and you think,’They did that well before, why not again?’
So I can typecast people myself.
It’s a bit like SNL where I got known for doing impressions, but wanted to also go do original characters too. It took awhile for that to happen. I ended up having to write those things myself, and then had to go to the writers sell it.
Q: What was it like being with Kristen Wiig again? Obviously, this was totally different from SNL, but you had such a long history there. How was it here?
A: It was great. You know she was very present through all of this. She’s such a great actress and great friend. I’m able to be very vulnerable around her, probably because of our SNL background and knowing I can trust her implicitly.
I’ll share a story with you from ‘The Skeleton Twins.’ Some actors when you’re performing with them, they’re not going full-out with the emotion when the camera’s not on them. But, I remember specifically the scene where I give a long monologue about looking up my high school bully online and stuff. On my coverage [when the camera was not on her] Kristen would cry every single time. Take after take. She was so involved with what I was doing, and by her crying each time, that gave me so much and improved my performance immensely.
Q: With your “Saturday Night Live” background with Kristen, did you do any improvisation in this film?
A: People are always interested in how much was improvised, because they know Kristen and I did so much of that over the years in SNL. But the only big scene where we did improvise was the one where we’re in the dentist’s office. [Director] Craig Johnson just told us, ‘I don’t care what you do, just make each other laugh.’