There probably isn’t a poster on the walls of UNLV that reads “Drop out—you’ll be on your way to A-list stardom.” That success story, though, is exactly what happened to rising comedic actress Jillian Bell. Since moving to Los Angeles after one semester of college, the 2002 Bishop Gorman graduate has become the Valley’s star expat. (Move over, Jenna Jameson.) Bell studied at L.A.’s comedy institution The Groundlings, wrote for one season of Saturday Night Live, lit up seven seasons of Comedy Central’s Workaholics and landed supporting roles in Hollywood films such as Goosebumps and 22 Jump Street.
She’s currently launching a T-shirt line, Neon Witch, with her older sister and writing a feature film with her comedy partner Charlotte Newhouse (together they also created the hilarious Idiotsitter, now airing its second season on Comedy Central). And this summer, Bell stars alongside Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon in the bachelorette-party-turned-crime-scene comedy Rough Night (read our film review here), which hits theaters June 16. Vegas Seven spoke with Bell on a rare day off to catch up on all she’s accomplished since ditching the desert.
Did you have a backup plan when you left Las Vegas to pursue acting?
It’s weird, I never did. I just thought, “This is what I want to do with my life and I’m going to try for it and hopefully be able to do it.” Now that I’ve sort of made that happen, I start to think, “What are other things I could do?” [Laughs.] I love doing interior decorating. I feel like I would be a decent wedding planner, which is hysterical to say out loud—that’s so random.
You were here for the grand opening of Magic Mike Live Las Vegas, created by your 22 Jump Street and Idiotsitter costar, Channing Tatum. If you created your own Las Vegas show, what would it look like?
I don’t know if this is something people would want to go to. [Laughs.] I would want to do something like Clue: The Musical, because [Clue] is my favorite movie. I would want it to be something dark, funny and twisted.
Speaking of dark, funny and twisted, let’s talk about Rough Night.
Now you see why I wanted to do the movie so badly! [Laughs.] I read the script and I was like, “This is right up my alley.”
And you’re on the poster!
It still completely blows my mind. I’m like, “Oh, this must be an accident. Someone accidentally put me up there next to Scarlett Johansson!” I’m very grateful.
From the looks of the trailer, you play the most pivotal role. There would be no dead stripper without your character.
[Laughs.] If my character was not so horny, there probably would not be as crazy of a plot to this movie. You’re right about that! But a lot of things go down; we each play a part getting us into the pickle that we’re in.
Any standout improvised moments on the set?
There’s a scene where a pizza delivery guy arrives and Kate McKinnon has to run to the door to see who it is. All she has to say is, “It’s pizza.” She’s doing this crazy, exaggerated accent and she kept saying, “It’s peet-zer!” We couldn’t stop laughing. I think we broke every single take.
Were there memorable characters that you wrote for during your season at Saturday Night Live?
I wrote a lot with Kristen Wiig and we had a lot of fun, but I didn’t get a ton on the air. I felt like I held back a little bit because I always wanted to be on the show. I was not willing to give up some of the material that I used at The Groundlings because I wanted to see if I would ever have the opportunity to do it. I didn’t, but at the time I did what [I] felt [was] the right decision in my heart, which was to hang on to certain things that I created, [characters] that felt like they were a part of me. I know that may sound silly, but it was something that felt right, at least at the beginning of my career. I still do it now. I go with my gut.
I found a clip of you and your writing partner Charlotte Newhouse on Larry King Now.
Oh, my gosh! It’s the greatest interview of all time. He gets very intimate with both of us.
If you could ask a male celebrity any question, who would it be and what would you ask?
You’re the first person who has ever brought that exact question to me. That is amazing. Go. Girl. Go.
I would ask every male celebrity “How badly do you want to kiss me?” They would all say, “Not so much.” But it would be really fun to ask every single one and then see if it actually works. Or I would just ask “What are you wearing?” because that’s what every female gets.
Hopefully every male celebrity will read this interview.
And want to kiss me because of it?
Ah, wouldn’t life be sweet!