In Craig Johnson's Sundance hit The Skeleton Twins, Bill Hader plays Kristen Wiig's suicidal, estranged and gay fraternal twin Milo. The former SNL castmates, immediately convincing as brother and sister, gradually reconcile and discover what they've been missing during their time apart. (The highlight? A spectacular scene in which they lip-sync Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now.") The film, which also features Luke Wilson and Modern Family's Ty Burrell, was sold to Roadside, Lionsgate and Sony Pictures and will arrive in theaters soon. Rolling Stone spoke with Hader about script selection, why improvising with Wiig can't be beat and how he'll always miss Saturday Night Live.
Your first role away from SNL was not a broad comedy.
I get a lot of comedic scripts, but I thought, "You know, it would be interesting to try something different." It's kind of instinctual. It's like dating: you hang out with someone and you think, "Eh, no, I'm not going to call this person back." Or, "Oh, this is nice. I like the way this makes me feel. I hope this person calls me. I hope they want to hang out more."
So what in this script did it for you?
It was a different character. Plus I related to that sibling aspect. I'm very close to my sisters. But I just loved the story – I thought it was emotional – and it gave me a chance to do the kind of acting that I like.
Are you and Kristen close in real life?
We have a shorthand together. We didn't have to sit there – there wasn't a lot of, "Hey, how are you."
Does that play out in the movie?
There's a scene where we're in a dentist's office and I tell her that I've been with a woman. That whole scene was just messing around.
Walk me through that Starship scene.
When I read it I thought it was crazy and awesome. It was literally just four sentences in the script. When Craig played the song, I said, "Here are my ideas." And I was acting out the lyrics with my hands because that's what my sisters and I would do. I'm asked, "Is it weird if I crawl towards her?" Then Luke [Wilson] came in and we did a bunch of different takes. One time Craig told me to seduce the shit out of him. So I slapped him in the face. We honestly could have shot that for weeks. No one wanted that sequence to end. We were having too much fun.
Did you channel some Stefon for that slap?
Craig has a really good response to that. He says the only thing Stefan and Milo have in common is that they're both gay. I never wanted it to be a straight gag. So I always asked Craig, "Am I being too fabulous?"
Be honest: Do you miss SNL?
Yes and no. I like seeing my family and I like getting to sleep a bit more. I just went to the premiere of Girls in New York. Vanessa Bayer was there and we got emotional. So I miss all the people at SNL. I miss them a lot.