First things first. Rebel Wilson is not Fat Amy – the character she plays in Pitch Perfect. This is disappointing for precisely as long as it takes her to answer our first question. Disappointing because Fat Amy (she calls herself that so people don’t do it behind her back) is one of the most genius characters in recent movie memory – so funny people have taken to wearing her one-liners on T-shirts. In the flesh, stretched out on a sofa at Claridge’s, London, the actress is funny, but she’s also totally focused and honest about her ambition, refusing play down her intelligence. The 35-year-old (at the time of interviewing she was still thought to be 29…) moved to Hollywood in 2010 after working in TV and stand-up in Australia, and within months landed a role in Bridesmaids as Kristen Wiig’s flatmate. It was a tiny part, but here’s the thing about Rebel Wilson: she’s got the knack for stealing every film she appears in. Within two weeks of Bridesmaids opening, she’d signed up to six new films, including Pitch Perfect. The sequel, out now, opens with Fat Amy suffering an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction in front of President Obama, live on national TV.
Okay, let’s talk about that opening scene in Pitch Perfect 2. You end up dangling in mid-air with a split leotard in a massive concert hall. Is it true that you went to circus school to prepare for this scene?
Yes! I trained really hard. I had to, because there are no stunt girls my size. It was either me doing it or a completely new start to the film. I chose to suffer for the sake of comedy. It was pretty scary. I am afraid of heights, but I just sucked it up.
Fat Amy is a brilliant character. How much of you is in her?
Fat Amy is very confident. She’s overly confident. I’m not a maniac in real life. I’m more sensible. But a lot of people have told me that I am comfortable in my own skin. I have always had that.
Where does that inner confidence come from?
I don’t know. I was shy as a kid, but I always had confidence in my skills. I mean, no one thought I would be a professional actress. That doesn’t happen to girls like me.
What was your ambition when you first arrived in Los Angeles?
My original goal was to get just one Hollywood film. That would have been sweet. But after Bridesmaids I got six in two weeks. Even though I only had four scenes in the film, people remembered me. When you’re starting out it’s not like you’re given all these amazing roles. You have to make your own opportunities, and do the best with what you’re given.
Do people expect you to be Fat Amy all the time?
Yeah. Or people expect me to be comedy ‘on’ all the time. I’m not. You can’t maintain that 24 hours a day. I’d be a psycho. I can be really fun, but the reality is that what I do is really hard work. I try to be smart and sensible in my real life. A lot of people are shocked that I have two degrees.
Your siblings are called Liberty, Annachi and Ryot. Were your parents hippies?
No. Dog show-ers. If you’ve ever seen the movie Best in Show, that was my life growing up.
Did you have a plan B if acting didn’t work out?
Yeah, being a lawyer. By the second year of law school, I was already working as an actress and I could’ve quit. But I was very sensible at the time.
You’ve been in Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect. Does it make a difference working on comedies written by women?
Yes. There are some male writers who create amazing female characters. But usually on male-driven films your part is marginalised. You don’t have a lot of jokes on the page, so you have to work harder.
Who’s the funniest person you know personally?
I’m going to say Matt Lucas, but that’s a really hard question. I’ve met some of the world’s top comedians. And Jennifer Lawrence. She’s hilarious in real life, funnier than me.
Pitch Perfect 2 is out now in cinemas across Dubai.