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Kristen Wiig on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Singing Bowie, and Sneaky iPhone Pics

Kristen Wiig. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty

Kristen Wiig is in not one but three movies this holiday season — as a phone sex voice in Her (“Choke me with that dead cat!”), as Steve Carell’s less-than-brainy love interest Chani in Anchorman 2, and her most grounded role of the three, Ben Stiller’s muse in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. (In one fantasy sequence, she sings “Major Tom” to help him find his courage.) Wiig chatted with Vulture about singing David Bowie, our obsession with documenting everything, and how she doesn’t know how to use the Internet.

You’ve acted before with your directors — Drew Barrymore in Whip It, for instance. Did it make you want to do it yourself? Do you want to direct?
Yeah! I would definitely love to direct. It’s what I’m hoping, planning on doing. And soon. I don’t think I would have the starring role in the film. I think for my first time out, I would want to be a little more behind the camera. I don’t know if it would have to be something I’ve written as well, actually. I think I’m open to either one. I’m looking at other people’s scripts. And I’m writing by myself, and with Annie [Mumolo]. That’s why it’s taking so long!

You’ve sung before, too, but not quite like you do in Walter Mitty. Was it daunting?
Yeah, it’s something you do, and then you realize lots of people are going to hear it or see it. Recording it was this intimate night. We recorded at Electric Lady downtown, which was incredible, and I got to hear it back, and it was just a fun experience, because I’ve probably secretly wanted to do something like that before. Everyone wants to be onstage singing, I think. Well, not everybody. It’s funny, it’s the scene in the film when I cover my eyes a little bit, because I get a little embarrassed. I just can’t get over the fact that my voice is next to David Bowie’s voice, even though we weren’t singing it together. In my mind, he was in the recording booth. [Laughs.] In my mind, we recorded it together.

Well, at least you were together with the Foo Fighters, when you performed with them
There’s video of that?! [Laughs.] See, I never go on the Internet, and I never look at anything, so I did not know. [Laughs.] Okay! Well, there you go. I think sometimes people think the experience that they’re having is having the ability to watch it later, over and over again, rather than just being in the room. I just went to a concert recently and everyone was sort of videotaping and filming and taking pictures, and all I was looking at were people looking into their phones, instead of looking onto the stage. And I just felt like, “Wouldn’t it be great if we all just had this experience together? If it never existed after tonight? If we just had this moment?” I feel like those times get lost now.

People take pictures of everything and everyone. Unlike Sean Penn’s character, who carefully constructs what his photographs are going to be, even if he puts himself in dangerous situations to do so.
You can be reading on the subway and someone takes a picture of you. People sneaking photographs. It’s such a weird phenomenon to me. I don’t know. Back when we had cameras that weren’t in our phones, it would be really strange to just walk up to someone and take a picture of them, or kind of place the camera on the table and try to sneak a picture of someone as they’re ordering food or something. But now it’s just kind of a common thing that people do because we’re so attached to our phones, and the camera is part of the phone. It’s a very strange thing to me. If they ask, it’s fine! I mean, I understand it. I absolutely do. When I was younger, I came to New York for like two days. I was in eighth grade, and it was the first time I had ever been here. And I saw Mark Goodman from MTV, and I just immediately reached for my camera, “I have to have his picture!” [Laughs.] And I understand it’s part of this job, but I do think there’s a blurry line between someone’s personal life and what people feel like they should know about you. Some people say, “Oh, if you’re in this business, that’s just what you have to deal with, that’s just part of it.” And I do struggle with that sometimes, because I know what I do for my job, and I understand that I’m in the public eye, but I think there are times when you should be allowed to not be in the public eye.

When I talked to Patton Oswalt at the premiere, we came up with a whole new kind of eHarmony: GeekHarmony, for those with more geeky interests. If you were making your own version of eHarmony, what would it be?
Oh God! I’m so not familiar with that world. I’ve never been on one of those sites before. I think having to describe yourself is so daunting! I think I would just have a really low-quality video of a babbling brook, and then the words, “Call me” — with a question mark slowly coming in. And that’s it.

That’s your profile?
That’s everything. That’s the whole page. That’s it. If you get it, then you get me. If you get me, you get me. If not, then maybe we’re not meant to be. You got to really put yourself out there to know if you’re really going to know if you vibe with somebody. And it wouldn’t have a name. You would just have to press the space bar a bunch of times.

I don’t know if that’s going to work, but you could try …
[Laughs.] See? I don’t know. I don’t know how the Internet works. [Laughs.] I know you have to put www-dot for some reason, in front of most things?

I think it’s an address/directional thing.
Like west west west? [Laughs.] I’m going to figure it out. I have time.

Kristen Wiig on Walter Mitty and iPhone Pics