Every sports hero has obstacles he must overcome on his way to achieving his dream. For Caleb, the would-be champion of “Intramural,” the director Andrew Disney and writer Bradley Jackson’s comic look at recreational college football, those hurdles include his possessive girlfriend, Vicky, played by the rising “Saturday Night Live” star Kate McKinnon, who could be his ticket to a lucrative postcollege law career.
“Intramural” is playing the Tribeca Film Festival this week, and this will be Ms. McKinnon’s first project there. She spoke recently about the making of the film, which also features Jake Lacy (“The Office”) and her “S.N.L.” co-stars Beck Bennett and Jay Pharoah.
Q. Your three seasons on “Saturday Night Live” have gotten you very comfortable with live television. Was filmmaking a new process for you?
A. This was my first time – I had done very small parts in other small movies before, but this was my first big chunk of a thing. And I think I caught the bug. I want in.
Q. Were you uncertain before?
A. I just didn’t know what it would entail. I love TV because I love the familial vibe of it, and the consistency in the schedule. But this was like the best summer-camp experience. We filmed it over the summer in Austin and it was so cool.
Q. Vicky is an insane girlfriend of a very specific variety.
A. Yes. She’s extraordinarily high-maintenance and spirited in all the wrong ways, but still genuinely confident in what she believes she deserves.
Q. How you were cast?
A. They just offered me the role, and nothing like that has ever happened to me before. I was so excited. They pitched it as, “We know you can pull off this level of crazy.” And I said thank you.
Q. You do seem to slip into these kinds of characters rather easily.
A. I don’t know why. But that’s what I love to do the most.
Q. Is Vicky based on a certain kind of personality you’ve encountered in your life?
A. I’ve seen people like that on the show “Bridezillas,” but I wanted to inject as much sweetness or likability as possible into this insane person. You see some characters like that in reality TV and just hate them. I wanted to see if I could play someone like that and make her not completely hateable – to try to understand the humanity inside of that behavior.
Q. It seems like you get a certain look in your eye – a certain squint – and the whole character just emanates from that.
A. I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know what’s wrong with me – there must be something.
Q. Did you get to bond with your other “S.N.L.” cast mates who were in the film?
A. I didn’t ever see Jay Pharoah, but Beck and I were there at the same time, and I had never met Beck before and fell in love with him too. What’s so funny about him is that he looks so hyper-masculine, and his voice is all man, and then there’s a lot of stuff underneath that, that is not that. There’s an inherent dichotomy in what he does, and he’s so funny.
Q. Were you hoping to get to be in any of the football scenes in “Intramural”?
A. In Austin, Texas, in July? No, thank you. I just watched them practice once and I was like, ugh, God, I’m exhausted.
Q. Were you given opportunities on “Intramural” to improvise and be loose with your performances?
A. We’d film it as written a couple of times, and then the director said, O.K., now do it your way. And we’d add a few flourishes.
Q. It seems like giving you that license could be good, or it could be perilous.
A. Maybe it was horrible for them to have to sit through it. Not all of it’s usable. A very, very small section of it is usable.
Q. Would you like to do more film roles in this vein?
A. Definitely, it was so much fun. I saw “Anchorman 2” twice this year, and that blew my mind. Every single line was one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard, and I just would kill to be a part of something like that.
Q. I imagine you’ll eventually get your chance.
A. Oh, I don’t know. What if I catch the flu?