News.com.au – REBEL Wilson has revealed that her greatest professional triumph was tinged with personal tragedy after her father died early into production of her US network TV show Super Fun Night.
The Aussie comedian had been riding high on the back of movie successes including Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect when, championed by leading US comedy figure Conan O’Brien, she was rewarded with the major-network star vehicle about a single lawyer and her friends.
But just as she started work last year on the sitcom, which she conceived, wrote, produced and starred in, family tragedy struck.
“What a lot of people maybe didn’t know was that my father passed away in the second week of production of the show,” she said, tearfully.
In addition to losing a family member, Wilson was also wrestling with Super Fun Night’s rocky journey to the screen. The CBS network passed after initially showing interest and when it was picked up by ABC, the original pilot episode was rejected, and the second episode was aired as the premiere.
Although it debuted to a healthy 8.23 million views last October, the numbers dropped off steadily, with just 2.67 million tuning in for final episode in February.
ABC declined to pick up the show for a second season in May, although Wilson said the network gave her the option to “retool it”.
Wilson, who is now filming the sequel to Pitch Perfect, is now philosophical about the show’s cancellation, a rare speed bump in a career trajectory that has seen her rise from stand-up and sketch comedy in Australia to starring in big-budget Hollywood movies alongside the likes of Mark Wahlberg, Ben Stiller and Amanda Seyfried.
“I really tried my best and I knew it was something different and that the concept of the show was really solid,” she said. “But I think people were expecting me to play the brassy, outrageous character all the time and the conceit of Super Fun Night was of a different character, a straighter character.”
Wilson’s resume in Australia included broader and more confronting characters such as Toula in Fat Pizza and Jennie Cragg from Bogan Pride and agrees that the American TV watching public has a different sensibility to that of her homeland.
“I think my style of comedy is very Australian but it has American influences and British influences as well,” she said. “Perhaps my tone was a little (off) to some of the American audiences. Some people are like ‘would you try again?’ but I think I will stick with movies for the time being. I think the pace of that is much better for me going forward as a writer. It’s insane to write and perform and do seven pages of TV comedy a day.”
In addition to filming Pitch Perfect 2 in Louisiana, Wilson earlier this year completed scenes for A Night At the Museum 3 in London and Vancouver and also recently signed up for a role in her friend Sacha Baron Cohen’s new movie, Grimsby.
Despite being cancelled, Wilson said she was still proud of Super Fun Night and has nothing but respect for those who work with the “insane schedule” of network TV in the US.
“I learned so much on that show,” she said. “Network TV is crazy in America — the speed at which it all happens is super crazy. We did eight-and-a-half hours of content in eight months — that’s kind of like doing four movies back to back from writing to editing to them being out to the public.
“We did really well though — our average rating was 1.8 (million) and we won the People’s Choice Award for Best New Comedy. I think it had a lot of potential — it was just probably not what people wanted to see me do at this point but it was a show that was locked in. I actually wrote the pilot for that during the first Pitch Perfect movie.”