Yes, we’re talking about the most memorable scene in “Bridesmaids,” the uproarious R-rated comedy that became an Oscar-nominated cultural phenomenon after it was released in theaters May 13, 2011, as well as a surprise box-office smash ($288.4 million worldwide on a $32.5 million budget).
Directed by Paul Feig and co-written by Wiig and Annie Mumolo (“Barb Star Go to Vista Del Mar”), the film follows lifelong friends Annie (Wiig) and Lillian (Maya Rudolph) whose relationship hits some turbulence when Lillian gets engaged. Annie flails at maid-of-honor duties and clashes with Lillian’s snooty new pal, Helen (Rose Byrne), who’s organized a bachelorette party in Sin City.
But the flight to Vegas descends into glorious chaos when Annie drunkenly saunters into the first-class cabin, repeatedly irking stoic flight attendant Steve (Mitch Silpa) and mispronouncing his name as “Stove.” Meanwhile, bridal party members Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Becca (Ellie Kemper) commiserate over passionless marriages, while Megan (Melissa McCarthy) tries to get chummy with an undercover air marshal (Ben Falcone). And who could forget Annie’s overanxious seatmate (Mumolo)? (To be fair, getting sucked into an airplane toilet sounds horrifying.)
Silpa is a veteran of the Groundlings, the Los Angeles-based improv theater and school, where he came up doing comedy with Wiig before her “Saturday Night Live” breakthrough. The actor, who now appears on CBS legal drama “All Rise,” recalls shooting the roughly 12-minute sequence over three days on the same airplane set used for the 1980 comedy “Airplane!”
“I love that movie,” Silpa tells USA TODAY. “When they told me, ‘They shot “Airplane!” in this,’ I said to Kristen, ‘Oh, well, this movie’s going to become a classic.’ ”
Question: Do people still call you Stove?
Mitch Silpa: Yes and I love it. Friends call me Stove as a joke. One time I was in New York a couple years after the movie got released and a car drove by, and it was a bunch of men and they yelled “Stove!” It took me a second to even realize what they were saying, but I was like, “Oh, that’s so nice.” I hope all people named Steve are now called Stove.
Q: Are there any other lines that people quote back to you most?
Q: So what were your first thoughts reading the airplane scene?
Silpa: Knowing Kristen, I could only imagine what she was going to do, (playing) drunk and on whatever pills she was on. But I remember in the script reading the Stove/Steve thing and that made me laugh. It’s so stupid-funny, that someone would look at a nametag and mistake an e for an o. But that was the moment I fell in love with that scene. I was like, “I can’t wait to do that with Kristen.”
Q: Is there a line you came up with that didn’t make it into the final film?
Silpa: I remember one take Kristen called me Stove and then she was like, “What’s your sister’s name? Oven?” I said to her, “My sister’s missing.” And then her character got dead sober and was like, “I’m so sorry.” And I said, “Well, it’s not your fault.” I remember thinking, “That’s definitely not going to make it in,” but to her credit, she didn’t break.
Q: When “Bridesmaids” opened, there were still these dated discussions of whether women could be funny and if a female-driven R-rated comedy could be a box-office hit. What do you recall about that chatter leading up to its release?
Silpa: The thought of it being a female-driven comedy didn’t really hit me until it was coming out. These are people I performed with and I just think they’re hilarious, whatever their gender is. But as it was coming out and there was starting to be more press, I remember hearing that discussion of, “Is this gonna do well? Are people gonna wanna see funny women?” It’s crazy that was even a discussion. And then it seemed stupid that there was so much pressure on the movie, like, “Was this a fluke?”