Rebel Wilson: Beyond 'Bridesmaids'

On the face of it, Wilson's rapid ascent seems improbable. As her Bridesmaids costar and close friend Matt Lucas (see sidebar) puts it, breaking into Hollywood is ''hard for any woman who's not from America and doesn't look like Angelina Jolie.'' But spend a little time with Wilson and you'll be surprised at how utterly unsurprised she is by her own success — not in an arrogant, entitled way but simply a cheerfully matter-of-fact one. ''My agents say, 'Rebel, no one moves this quickly,''' she says. ''But to me it doesn't feel quick. Sometimes when they tell me I got a movie, I'm just like, 'Oh, yeah? Cool.' Because in my mind I already thought it would happen.''

Wilson's disarming self-assurance instantly won over O'Brien when she appeared on his late-night show last year bearing nunchucks (she's a martial-arts enthusiast), and after reading her script for Super Fun Night, he signed on. ''Rebel has earned her confidence,'' he says. ''She has a very keen knowledge of how she's funny. She's not going to be patient with a bunch of TV veterans telling her, 'No, this is how you're funny, Rebel.''' He laughs. ''We'll break her, though. I've got the Welcome Back, Kotter writers coming in.''

Wilson insists she wasn't a funny kid, which seems remarkable considering how tailor-made her upbringing was for a comedy career. Her parents were competitive dog breeders, and she — along with her younger siblings Liberty, Ryot, and Annachi (''It's just a theme, not a political statement,'' she says of the punk-rock-sounding names) — grew up in a house overrun by beagles. ''We used to drive around in a yellow caravan and sell dog products,'' she says. ''It was the most embarrassing thing ever — exactly like the movie Best in Show.''

An academic overachiever who'd go on to graduate from law school, Wilson threw her family for a loop when she announced she wanted to become an actress. ''My mum cried,'' Wilson says without any trace of bitterness. ''None of them thought I'd be good. Girls who look sort of normal like me... They just thought, 'Why would anyone want you in their stuff?''' Though she initially intended to be a dramatic actress, Wilson quickly discovered that her forte was comedy. Within a few years she'd risen to become a national TV comedy star thanks to the Australian series Pizza, The Wedge, and Bogan Pride. Being an Aussie TV actor doesn't necessarily put you on Hollywood's radar, though. In 2010 Wilson moved to L.A. and landed in a grim one-bedroom apartment in a sketchy neighborhood near the beach. After some 30 auditions failed to pan out, she went in to read for the part of a bridesmaid in an R-rated female-centric comedy — and something clicked.