No sex and drugs, please, I'm Rebel Wilson

Rebel Wilson (far left) with her co-star Dakota Johnson in the film How To Be Single.
Rebel Wilson (far left) with her co-star Dakota Johnson in the film How To Be Single.PHOTO: WARNER BROS

Actress Rebel Wilson gets one-night-stand offers because of her over-the-top roles, but she is quite conservative in real life

Actors playing over-the-top characters in outrageous comedies face an occupational hazard: Fans often assume they are just as crazy in real life.

This is why actress Rebel Wilson is constantly fending off offers of sex and drugs. The 35-year-old star of hits such as Bridesmaids (2011) and the Pitch Perfect films (2012 and 2015) says she is in fact quite conservative and introverted.

Speaking to The Straits Times and other press about her new movie, How To Be Single, in which she plays an unapologetically promis- cuous party girl, the comedic performer says she frequently finds herself in uncomfortable situations because people confuse her with such characters and "think I am very outrageous".

"People offer me drugs all the time. I don't do drugs in real life, but people think I do," she says.

"I was at this billionaire's party and they were passing around molly," she says, referring to the recreational drug MDMA. "And I was like, 'You know what, I am just going to go now, because this is making me really uncomfortable and I don't want to get into this orgy situation.'"

Wilson sees the humour in it, but adds: "When the drugs come out, it's usually time to go.

"I also think I get hit up for one- night stands and stuff because people think, 'She likes this stuff.' And then they talk to me and find out that I am quite a conservative, classy girl in real life.

"The truth is, I can be really fun, but a lot of nights, I am just normal and want to watch TV or something and not have this crazy time."

Meeting Wilson in person, however, it is easy to see how people can mistake her for her screen personas. The actress displays the same free-wheeling, unself-conscious humour she does on screen, and you sometimes cannot tell if she is kidding. When she reveals directors shut her down whenever she tries to inject a bit of seriousness into her comedy, it is impossible to decipher her true feelings about this.

For How To Be Single - a romantic comedy that opens in Singapore tomorrow and co-stars Dakota Johnson - Wilson tried to sneak in a bit of back story to explain why her character drinks so much.

"I tried to make my character a lot darker because she is obviously a functioning alcoholic. So in the Christmas party scene, I start going into this story about how one time I was partying with my cousin and she drowned, but I didn't realise because I was so drunk. I was trying to show there were consequences to that fun-girl lifestyle and I thought it should be darker.

"But the director says, 'People just want to laugh at you, Rebel. They don't want this serious girl.'"

Asked if she minds being hemmed in this way, Wilson replies with a chuckle: "No, because I make so much money.

"And also, just doing comedy is the best job in the world. So it's just my own ego as an actress to try and get dramatic scenes in comedies, so that I can expand my repertoire, just subconsciously, to other directors watching the film."

Whether it is typecasting or indecent proposals, nothing seems to get to the star, who also continues to shrug off the pressure on actresses to look a certain way.

"Even though I was a shy girl to begin with, weirdly, I always had confidence in my skills and abilities and I always knew that I was kind of smarter than the average person so I was like, yeah, I've got something.

"And nobody thought I would be an actress, purely because I didn't look like one, but weirdly, I just always thought I would."

As it turns out, her atypical appearance would set her apart from all the other wannabes trying to break into show business.

"In Hollywood, I kind of see my size and physicality as an advantage because there are not that many girls in that demographic.

"On my second day in America, I went to my agents WME, and they signed me instantly because they were like, 'We don't have anybody like you.'

"When I see all those glamorous girls and what they have to do to keep that way - they are all on Adderall and they all eat nothing,'' she says, referring to a drug used to treat attention deficit disorder.

"I wouldn't want to compete in that group. I like eating, but I exercise all the time and stuff, and you have to be very physically fit and have good stamina to film 16 hours a day. And I never want to be too unhealthy because that is not cool either, but I would not want to be like some of the beautiful actresses."

Ultimately, beauty is "what's up here and what's in here", she says, pointing to her head and heart.

This is not to say, though, that she has never bowed to the pressure to conform.

Last year, the Australian media exposed the fact that Wilson had been lying about her age, claiming to be 29 instead of 35, which some saw as hypocritical, given that she has been so adamant about not changing who she is to please the industry. The actress initially laughed off the reports, joking on Twitter that she was "actually a 100-year-old mermaid".

"Thanks shady Australian press for your tall-poppy syndrome," she wrote, referring to the notion that people resent those who do well, and try to cut them down to size by criticising them.

She eventually admitted to the fib and she had done it so as not to limit the roles she was considered for.

But Wilson is still sore about how the press in her home country went after her and believes this is a particularly Australian problem.

"Often we Australians who live here (in America), we talk about it, about how we have this cultural thing where if you get too good, they've got to knock you down a bit.

"And it's kind of sad in a way - they do it to everyone, like sports stars and singers - whereas that doesn't exist in America, I haven't found."

The incident has not hampered her career, though. Pitch Perfect 2 earned more than US$280 million (S$393 million) at the box office worldwide last year to become the highest-grossing musical comedy, and Wilson will appear in next year's sequel along with two big comedies this year, The Brothers Grimsby and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

The only area that still needs a bit of work is her love life, she says.

"I do date. I am so busy, though - it's hard to be an actress, you are always filming something.

"Now that I feel very secure in where I am career-wise, I am trying to have more of a balance. But I haven't met the right person yet," she says, adding that being a celebrity does not help, "especially in Los Angeles where everyone wants to be in the entertainment industry".

"You just hope that the right person does come along," she says.

In the meantime, she wants to make sure she "isn't cutting off opportunities for real love" by being too self-sufficient.

Her character in How To Be Single has a lot of quirky dating advice, but Wilson's own number one tip is "don't be so independent".

"It's awesome to be independent and do your own thing, but you don't want to get so stuck in your ways that you can't invite the right person in if they come along. I think that's something that I am trying to consider myself."

•How To Be Single opens in Singapore tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'No indecent proposals, please'. Print Edition | Subscribe