Melissa McCarthy is one of those actresses who is known for making people smile. From her earnest portrayal of Sookie on Gilmore Girls to her show-stopping comedy in Blockbusters such as The Heat and Bridesmaids, she can get a laugh from the dourest of us on days when it feels like we don’t have a funny bone in our bodies.
Now, McCarthy is getting awards buzz for her dramatic turn in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, a 2018 film about celebrity biographer Lee Israel. Meanwhile, she’s opening up about her life and career in a new Q&A with InStyle magazine. Here are a few of the best nuggets of wisdom from McCarthy’s lips — and what they mean.
On the moment she found success
When McCarthy starred in Bridesmaids in 2011, she already had quite a few credits to her name. But none of them had yet to make her the star she is today.
She told InStyle:
“I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know if this will work at all, but it seems like the funniest thing I’ve ever been a part of.’ My husband [actor and producer Ben Falcone] and I were over at [Bridesmaids director] Paul Feig’s house the night it opened, and everyone kept telling us that it was not going to open well. And then we were watching the numbers come in, and we jumped up, got in the car, and ran in and out of two different movie theaters. They were both packed, and the audiences were enjoying it. I felt like that was a whole change, like, maybe our sensibility works and we’re not alone. Maybe I can write stuff.”
On dealing with success
“It’s still just me. I’ve fully embraced it in terms of it can all go away as fast as it came. I know that, and I’ve seen it happen. I do feel like I work 500 percent on everything. I’m a complete obsessive. I’m in on every department. I want to talk about wigs, costumes, makeup, and construction because I love every part of it. If this all goes away and I didn’t try, I’d be, like, the dumbest idiot on earth.”
On people who don’t work hard
“I spent 20 years trying to get a job, so when someone doesn’t really put in the effort, it just makes me mad. ‘How easy did it come for you that you don’t feel like you’re grateful, or that you don’t have to try?’ Nothing is more unflattering than someone who doesn’t try.”
On criticism that wasn’t constructive
“Years ago I was at a press conference for either The Heat or Tammy, and somebody from a very big organization kept asking me, ‘Why do you always feel the need to be so grotesque?’ It was a huge interview with maybe 100 people in the room, and he was sneering. I said, ‘What are we talking about? I can’t answer your question because I don’t understand it.’ He goes, ‘You look sloppy, you’re not wearing any makeup, your hair is not done, you’re yelling at people.’ I was like, ‘OK, so have you ever asked this of a guy? I’m playing a character. You need to get out more if you don’t think there are real women like that ‘”
On working with her spouse
McCarthy and her husband, actor and producer Ben Falcone, work in the same industry, and they seem to have a great personal and professional relationship.
But McCarthy revealed that not everyone expects their time together at work to be as drama-free as it is:
“We’ve done four movies now, and the first questions are always, ‘How awful was it to work with your spouse?’ ‘How much do you fight?’ ‘Who’s really in charge?’ When we did The Boss, it was, ‘Who’s really the boss?’ We responded, ‘It’s fun. We met doing this. We know we’ve been hit by a lucky stick.’ They were like, ‘Come on, just how difficult is it?’ And I’m like, ‘No, it’s, like, the best thing I’ve ever had in my life.’ And people would get aggressive and finally say things like, ‘You know what, if you don’t want to answer the question, fine.’ ”
On gendered expectations
“Having two daughters [Vivian, 11, and Georgette, 8], I think there is a weird layer in the world [for women] where it’s not just about looks but it’s also, ‘Are you pleasant? Do you not make trouble?’ I don’t want to be around someone who’s a pain in the ass and confrontational, but I also don’t think that you always have to be Stepford Wife-y and can’t have opinions.”
On helping others at work
“I think once you’re a producer, you can’t take that hat off. But whatever it is, you want to show the world that you want to live it. It can’t be an all-white world. That’s not the world we live in. It’s not realistic.”
On other impressive women in Hollywood
Too often, women don’t give other women the credit they deserve. McCarthy wasn’t going to have that in her InStyle interview:
“I love that Jennifer Aniston, that little nugget. That’s a person to the soles of her feet. Just solid, good. I think Nicole Kidman is a smart, non-bullshit puppy. She isn’t going to mince words, isn’t going to try to play a game. She’s got a hell of a picker. She picks things that are really interesting, and she’s not concerned about how they may be seen. Amy Adams is the same. I love that she is starting to produce.
“I would like Amy Adams to run for president. I think the world would be better in general. I’d like Viola Davis to wake me up every morning and be like, “Here’s your thought for the day,” and I’d literally write it down. I’ve known Octavia Spencer for 20 years, and she is the same person she has always been. Same with Allison Janney. They didn’t change. They’re not adapting for their jobs or their careers. They are exactly, unapologetically as they were.”
“I love my work, and I want to do better every time. I’m super self-conflicted. We rewrite and rewrite until we’re done making the movie and I’m still like, ‘Can I get three other lines in’ Not because I want to win but because I love what we get to do. We always joke that I’m a shark. Ben likes to sit down, but I’m better in motion. I want to make. I want to do.”