When Kristen Wiig left "Saturday Night Live" in May, no one was surprised â€” disappointed we wouldn't see her signature characters anymore, but not surprised. The 38-year-old's first movie script, 2011's "Bridesmaids" (which she co-wrote with Annie Mumolo), was a $169 million hit in which she also starred, sparked a trend of comedies aimed at females in movies and TV shows. Now Wiig reveals in the new issue ofMarie Claire that her status as an up-and-coming movie star wasn't the reason she put her "SNL" days behind her. "I know a lot of people probably assume, 'Oh, she's leaving because she is going to be doing movies now and things like that,' which I will be," says Wiig, who has six projects through 2014 listed on her IMDb resume. "But I just always knew it was going to be seven [seasons] and that was it. I think maybe if I were 22, I could see myself staying a little bit, but it just felt like the right time." Her final episode, which ended in a graduation sketch with a teary-eyed Wiig playing the student and guest host Mick Jagger playing the principal, was "very emotional," she adds.
What was less expected is that Wiig ended up with such a public profession. Growing up, she says, she "hated speaking in public" so much that she'd miss school in Rochester, New York, when she had to do it. "I wanted to be Justine Bateman," she explains, referring to the actress from '80s sitcom "Family Ties." "She was so cool. Or [the 'The Cosby Show's'] Lisa Bonet." I just didn't think [acting] was an option, coming from a town where people don't pack their bags and move out to Hollywood." Instead, Wiig spent some of her college years at the University of Arizona, where she landed a job at a cosmetic surgeon's office. Somehow, she didn't find that fulfilling. "I just very specifically remember looking in the mirror and being like, 'I know that working there and living here is not what I was meant to do in this life.'" Then she asked herself, "'If you could do anything in the world, what would you want to do?' And I wanted to try acting."
Wiig dropped out of college and moved to L.A. She took classes at the legendary Groundlings School, where Will Ferrell, Lisa Kudrow, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon, and many others got their start. In 2005, after a lot of non-acting gigs and bit parts, she joined "SNL." Still, Wiig insists she is "shyer than most people think." But somehow she's much more comfortable about her career in the spotlight now. Her personal life is going well, too. She's been dating The Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti, who dated Drew Barrymore for about five years, since late last year. "I will say that I'm happier than I've ever been and I feel very lucky right now," she tells the mag. The reason is "where I am now. Who he is. Those are the two big ones."
Read Wiig's full interview in the August issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands July 17.