Bridesmaids was a genre-reinventing chick flick, and its stars have gone stratospheric

Did you hear that thunder crack back in 2011? That was the sound of a new wave of funny women arriving on our screens in Bridesmaids, the critical and commercial smash which made almost $300 million at the global box office and single-handedly revived the tired chick flick.

When it wasn’t busy bending gender conventions or raising the bar for intoxicated hilarity on a plane, the film also catapulted its leading ladies into the eye of entertainment stardom. Here’s how the Bridesmaids went from the sidelines to cutting the cake.

Melissa McCarthy 

Undoubtedly the biggest breakout star from Bridesmaids, McCarthy has since headlined an abundance of comedies: Identity Thief, The Heat and perhaps best of all, alongside Bill Murray in the comedy-drama St Vincent. The Heat, a cop buddy film with Sandra Bullock, has been her biggest success to date with both audiences and critics, but other films have not fared so well. Identity Thief, for instance, scored just 19 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

But even her flops have recently been spun into positives, with McCarthy speaking out against a negative review of her comedy Tammy, which attacked her based on her looks. She confronted the reporter at the Toronto Film Festival last year, asking, “Are you the one who wrote I was only a good actor when I looked more attractive and that my husband [Ben Falcone, who directed the fim] should never be allowed to direct me because he allowed me to look so homely? Would you say that to any guy?”

Her popularity has also secured her a place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and early reviews of her new film, Spy, indicate she’s back on top form.

Melissa McCarthy in Spy Credit: 20th CENTURY FOX

Kristin Wiig

An alumnus of Saturday Night Live, Wiig was perhaps the most famous of the group before she co-wrote and starred in Bridesmaids, and has since found notable success in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Anchorman 2 and Friends With Kids. Her voice too, has proved popular with animators, starring in Despicable Me 2, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and even an under-the-radar phone-sex scene in Spike Jonze’s Her. She’s set to reunite with co-star Melissa McCarthy for the all-girls reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise, on top of featuring in Ridley Scott’s upcoming sci-fi epic, The Martian, opposite Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain.

If all that wasn’t enough, earlier this year she sported her finest ballet garb for a special performance of Sia’s Chandelier at the Grammy’s alongside Maddie Ziegler. Because, why not?

Rose Byrne

Originally famous for tackling more serious roles such as the long-running drama Damages, Rose Byrne broke into comedy with a two-punch combo of Get Him To The Greek and Bridesmaids. Since then, she has notched up even more genres: superhero action in X-Men: First Class, throwback horror in Insidious and the Zac Efron ab-showcase/comedy Bad Neighbours, all to major success. She’s also lined up for a sequel to the latter, and to reprise her role as Moira MacTaggert in X-Men: Apocalypse, but you can see her next in the espionage spoof Spy, alongside fellow Bridesmaid Melissa McCarthy.

Despite the success of Bridesmaids, Byrne told The Telegraph’s Stella magazine that she was annoyed by the discussions it sparked: “It was a little disappointing,” she said. “I’m sure the guys from The Hangover didn’t get asked, ‘Hey guys, how about this group of men who are all really funny – isn’t that amazing?’”

Byrne as psychopathic baddie Raina in Spy Credit: REX

Ellie Kemper

After landing her first big break as Erin in the American version of The Office, Ellie Kemper has honed her talents in small roles in 21 Jump Street and the recently cancelled The Mindy Project in preparation for her true calling in the lead role in the Netflix series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which was created by Tina Fey. With countless quotable lines you’ll be reeling off for weeks, Kemper is finally emerging as a star in her own right. Sure, she might be typecast as a dim bundle of enthusiasm, but she’s brilliant at it. “Kissing hole” and all.

Ellie Kemper in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Credit: NETFLIX

Maya Rudolph

Much like her former SNL colleague Kristin Wiig, Rudolph has lent her voice to an assortment of animated flicks such as Disney’s Big Hero 6 and Dreamwork’s Turbo, with a spot also lined up in the feature film interpretation of Angry Birds. Outside voiceover booths, she’s also appeared in comedies such as Friends with Kids and the Steve Carell-headlined The Way, Way Back.

We could go on about her upcoming roles in Maggie’s Plan opposite Julianne Moore or the comedy Sisters alongside Tina Fey, but recently, her comic talents were dialed to inspirational when she gave a commencement speech at Tulane University in Louisiana, showering leaving students with advice to photograph their “smokin’ hot” bodies before childbirth, and warning them of the challenges ahead, like staying sober during the day.

Wendi McLendon-Covey

Although she has a role in the American TV series The Goldbergs (now showing on E4), and episodes of Modern Family and Rules of Engagement under her belt, Wendi McLendon-Covey hasn’t quite reached the same level of success as her fellow Bridesmaids alumni. But 2016 could change that: she’s set to star opposite Nicolas Cage and Russell Brand in Army of One, a comedy from the director of Borat revolving around an attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden.

In the meantime, you can catch her hosting the light-hearted celebrity stitch-up show Repeat After Me. A show which plays out like Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway segment, I’m A Celebrity, Get Outta’ My Ear, only over the course of an entire show. It may sound like a nightmare, but it’s gained a fair amount of attention in the realms of the internet – especially when it involved Justin Bieber forcibly telling a bowling alley worker he’s planning a documentary called “Bieber-be-ballin”.