All I want for Mother's Day is for 'Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy to be a movie star

Bridesmaids-McCarthy

Image Credit: Suzanne Hanover

Whether you first fell for her on Gilmore Girls, or like her salt-of-the-Earth charm on Mike & Molly, or are intrigued by her gruff weirdness in the Bridesmaids trailer, it strikes me as impossible not to root for Melissa McCarthy. In a recent conversation, the 40-year-old actress talked about her love for her delightfully odd Bridesmaids character, her frustration with the usual spate of hack women’s roles, and her hit show Mike & Molly. (And can I get a Hell Yeah! for her disgust over the bitter screed “Should Fatties Get a Room” that ran on Marieclaire.com last fall.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When were you first invited to audition for Bridesmaids?

MCCARTHY: Back in 2006 I had done the table read for the first draft of the movie. Now in that one I played a completely different person. I played a bridesmaid who just kept crying all the time, who kept getting overwhelmed. Totally different character, a much smaller part. And in this party I didn’t think there was a spot for me. So when they called with this one, strangely, I think Megan is exactly in my wheelhouse. Those are the women at least at Groundlings [the famed L.A. comedy troupe] that I spent 10 years just enjoying so much portraying. So [Bridesmaids co-writer] Annie Mumolo called me and said ‘We want you to come in for this, can you come in and read for [producer] Judd Apatow and [director] Paul Feig?’

Had you worked at all with either of those guys before?

I had never really met them before. I was a big fan of Freaks and Geeks and I’ve always really liked Judd’s movies. I love that you always root for those characters. They always have a good amount of heart in them. I don’t like wacky and I don’t really love snarky stuff. So I always thought with Judd, well I always thought, a few more women wouldn’t kill ya! I can’t say that I haven’t said that all along, but his movies are really funny.

I’ve read a lot of finger-wagging online that the movie makes the heavy character the butt of the joke.

I always feel like they didn’t watch the movie. Did you just see a weird trailer? I love that character. I am the last one on Earth to play something as a sight gag or raunchy for the sake of raunchy. I thought Megan was the most well-adjusted, the happiest with her life. To me she was the most confident one. Whoever is saying she was the mess-up or the this or that, I don’t know what movie you were watching. That’s their own perception just because I didn’t look a certain way. Well, not everyone who’s successful and has a happy life looks one way. Being happy has nothing to do with how you look, or whether you wear weird pants or athletic sandals or if you have a carpal tunnel wristband on. And frankly I know a lot of women that are married, have kids, and that is how they look.

Paul Feig told me it really felt like Hollywood was watching and waiting to see how Bridesmaids performs, that there’s a real sense that it could lead to better roles for women?

In my opinion I think it’s a game changer. If you see a script with two great female parts it’s a win. But six! Six in a movie, six fully formed great characters. So often I see these scripts or these movies and think what are they talking about? They’re fighting over ‘I saw him first and that’s my nail polish and you can’t wear that color.’ It’s the silliest little girl arguments. I have never had that conversation and I don’t know anyone who has. Everyone I know is always like ‘Who the hell are these women?’ There’s always that sense of well, women are kind of horrible to each other and that’s just how it is, but you’re still friends with them. No, my friends are actually wonderful. I think in lieu of a character or a point of view it’s become these four different choices: the bitch, the slut, the door mat, and the people pleaser. That’s it. You get four types of women. I think in Bridesmaids, Kristen and Annie sat down and said “Okay, who are these women specifically?’ This movie is just something so dear to my heart. I mean, I love my show. I love Mike & Molly. The cast all came to the Bridesmaids premiere!

What was your first response to the idea of Mike & Molly?

Somebody first sent it to me when I was pregnant and I said ‘I have no interest.’ How it was presented to me at first was that it was supposed to be more about weight. Absolutely no. I just think it’s a real boring topic. They said who was doing it, who was writing it, so I said ‘Oh God, okay I gotta read that.’ And then when I read it I was like ‘Oh it’s not about that at all.’ It’s a romantic comedy and it really is romantic and it’s really funny. It’s funny, when we did the first press conference for the show, all these questions were on weight. The creator Mark Roberts looked at me up on stage and at one point he looked at me and said ‘Why do they keep asking this stuff? I’m writing a romantic comedy.’ I knew it was coming and he said ‘I had no idea. I’m not writing that show!’ I thought it was so sweet, he was really surprised. ‘I think I’m writing a romantic comedy, what’s everybody talking about?’ When that show started I had just–just!–had a baby. We did the pilot eight weeks after having the baby. I knew the questions were coming.

Did the much-maligned blog, “Should Fatties Get a Room?”on Marieclaire.com, that complained about the prospect of watching overweight characters sting or just make you fighting mad?

In all honesty my first thought was I hope she doesn’t have kids. And I don’t say that glibly. It hit me so viscerally. But then after a second, I thought what a sad, troubled person. You’re making such a shitty judgment on people. And then to have your comeback the next day to be like ‘Oh, I have issues.’ I almost wish she hadn’t done that. I say more bullshit to that. You sat down, you worked on it, you thought out those sentences, you corrected it. You didn’t write off the top of your head and send it out. That was done with great care and at least own it. You chose to be that horrible, to say those horrible things. Don’t take it back the next day. My gosh, I have really small, young children. They’re 1 and 3. If they were older and were at the point in their schooling where that was being talked about… Gosh!

Speaking of your family, your husband has a great cameo in Bridesmaids playing your airplane seat mate.

Isn’t he so cute! As if it wasn’t great enough and then one day Judd was on set and he’s like ‘Hey Melissa, I think I’m going to have Ben on the airplane. He doesn’t look anything like an Air Marshal.’ And then he kind of walked away laughing. And I was like ‘What!? What!? You’re going to kill me if this experience keeps getting better. I’m going to explode from joy.’

You’re already getting such raves for your work in Bridesmaids. Do you have a sense yet if it’ll bring more and different opportunities?

I’m a writer. I’ve written for 10 years, but I’ve always been on something and never really had the opportunity to do it. The opportunity is delightfully now presenting itself for the first time. I’m writing something with [Bridesmaids' co-writer] Annie. Ironically, and this is not in any way trying to duplicate what we’ve done, because it actually came from a script idea that my husband wrote, is another a female ensemble. It’s really funny and it’s again not what I think what most people would expect from women and I just love it. We’ve had four or five meetings and the response has been great!

And now Paul Feig says he’s developing a romantic comedy project for you?

It’s really overwhelming. If Paul asked me to come over and vacuum his house, I would be like ‘Ab-so-lute-ly! Do you need your closets reorganized?’

I have to say, it’s so encouraging to watch a person in this business hit such a stride when she’s 40 rather than 20.

I’m 40, I feel 22. Maybe there’s more pressure on women where their main thing is their beguiling beauty. But I’m always like ‘Oh, can I wear a weird wig and maybe black out my front teeth?’

For more on Melissa McCarthy, pick up the issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY that goes on stands Friday, May 13.

Comments (116 total) Add your comment
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  • Crisco – not just for breakfast anymore

    I kid, I kid

    • FTW

      hilarious!!

      • Tim

        Will it be hilarious when she has a diabetic stroke?

  • commentor

    I loved her on Samantha Who?, a show canceled much, much too early.

    • Liz

      Yea I know! I’m still bitter about Samantha Who?! It was punished because Christina Applegate had to you know undergo treatment for breast cancer! I wish ABC had been more willing to work with this show.

      • NinaV

        I’m bitter too!

      • l

        the show was canceled well before her diagnosis. good show and it’s too bad, but their rating didn’t prevail unfortunately.

    • Jenn

      Me too! I loved Samantha Who, I thought she was so adorable and hilarious in it. I just finished netflixing it.

    • alex

      haha yeah me too. I loved her and her dogs and then her and the girl that was always drunk/sooo mean. they played off of each other really well in that show.

    • Javadude54

      Yeah, she was hilarious on Samantha Who. She stole every scene she was in.

    • Tangled

      Melissa is so pretty, her Sookie was just adorable. Melissa is a beautiful and funny, I am glad to see her getting such great opportunities. She’s been a scene stealer for long she’s overdue for more starring roles.

    • kellybelly

      I LOVED her in Samantha Who. That was the surprise cancelling of the year. It had just been nominated for Emmy’s, Christina A had won, and poof! cancelled. Crime against TV-manity.And comedy.
      Melissa was hilarious on that show. And on everything she does.

  • amanda

    what a fine example of a REAL lady. I’m not talking about her weight…although it is so refreshing to see someone on TV/movies who isn’t a disgusting twig. But, I mean she seems to be such a well-rounded, complete person despite being in Hollywood. I bet she is an awesome mom, too.

    • Ralph

      So you can say “disgusting twig” and its fine and dandy, but if i say i feel she is disgustingly fat, then the pitchforks will come a flyin’.

      • jk

        Please. Let’s save the lecture on “poor skinny girls who get made fun of for being skinny.” That double standard does not exist, I’m afraid.

      • Alissa

        actually, I’m with Ralph on this. I think it’s totally unfair that naturally skinny girls get called “disgusting twigs” or anorexic or a variety of other insulting things and no one bats an eyelash.

      • i agree with Ralph too!!

        I agree with Ralph completely!! Plus I cant stand when they say “real women”. Wht the heck does being obese have to do with being a “real” woman?? *And yes I know she said ‘real lady’

      • whatevs

        There’s certainly a happy medium between a “disgusting twig” and what this lady is.

      • Kat

        As a woman who is carrying about 50 pounds too many (hey, it’s 50 pounds less than I started with) and sensitive to people talking about how “gross” fatness is…I’m with Ralph. You can’t get upset about people being nasty about overweight bodies and then turn around and talk nasty about skinny or underweight bodies. I’d say too-skinny girls probably still have it easier than too-heavy girls (because people seem to think all fat folks are lazy slobs, I guess, while skinny people don’t have that stereotype)…but it’s just not fair to call a certain body type a “disgusting twig”.

      • jk

        Well Kat (and all), as another woman who’s carrying about 50 pounds too many too, I would, frankly, love to be thin enough for someone to make a comment on it. And very few people who are extremely thin, are that thin naturally. Especially not the actresses on other network television shows. So, any woman in the entertainment industry who is thin enough to be called a “disgusting twig” is aiming for that look and would probably be somewhat gratified for someone to acknowledge how thin they are. I just hate the fake outrage when people get up in arms about thin girls getting “made fun of.” Calling someone thin and calling someone fat are not the same thing when “fat” has an inherently negative connotation that thin does not, especially in reference to woman.

      • Sleepy in Seattle

        Did I miss something? Where does she call someone a disgusting twig? I must have missed it, but I can’t understand how someone can defend themselves against hateful words and actions with equally hateful words and actions. Lame.

      • mm

        @sleepy in seattle – she never said anything of the sort – the comments above are all related to a comment that was made by someone who also read the article.

        Melissa seems like a truly grounded and funny lady. Kudos to her!

      • amanda

        there’s a difference between naturally thin and what some hollywood types look like. Seeing the outline of every rib and hipbone is a disgusting twig. Unfortunately, I am seeing more and more of this body type in movies/on TV/in magazines, despite the supposed backlash against it. Even ladies who start out as thin seem to become disgusting twigs over time in Hollywood. ugh.

        I would offer up Jennifer Garner as an example of someone who is naturally thin/in shape and not a twig. I’m afraid that in a few years she is going to have to conform to twig status or be booted from the biz.

      • tim

        Ralph is spot on. Thin people are the only ‘acceptable’ choice to make fun of. Anyone ‘thin’ looks unnatural or sick – according to tabloid media and hollywood hack journalism. How many times do you see a photo of a normal sized actress on a blog and a majority of the comments are ‘go eat a sandwich’.

      • jk

        @ tim: I would actually argue that it’s the complete opposite, and am frankly shocked that anyone would argue that thin people “get made fun of.” Fat people are the only group left that other people feel completely justified in deriding and belittling. I have never seen a “normal” sized actress being told to go eat a sandwich, but I have seen many actresses who are clearly dieting to an extreme being given that advice. I think men have a warped sense of what “naturally thin” is – granted, it’s different for everybody, but very few people are naturally a size 0 with their ribs showing and claim to love cheeseburgers, which tends to be the defense of the skinny actress.

      • Europa

        Yes, Ralph, those poor maligned skinny girls. Lets hold a run-walk to raise money for them.

      • agent227

        Let’s put this in proper perspective (it’s easy): thin is an acceptable word to use when describing someone, as is overweight. Disgusting twig or disgustingly fat are not. End of story. Ralph was right, and jk continues to demonstrate a willingness to promote ignorance. So anyone overweight, no matter the reason, has a right to have their feelings protected, while any and every thin individual, again regardless of reason (many have disorders, but so many others are ill or naturally thin or a host of other things), is not only allowed but asking to be subjected to ridicule and scorn?

      • Frank

        You guys disagreeing with Ralph are essentially saying it is okay to call somebody disgusting as long as theyre too thin. Do you not realize how ridiculous this makes you sound? Agent 227 has it right on the nose.

      • jk

        @agent 227: Why is it “okay” to call someone overweight? That comes off as insulting, whereas calling someone thin generally does not. I’m not really sure how I’m demonstrating a “willingness to promote ignorance,” I just think it’s dishonest for people to claim that girls who are thin/skinny/whatever adjective you want to use, are disrespected as much or more so as overweight girls. Just the fact that all of the adjectives used for “fat” people are inherently insulting should be proof enough that there is a discrepancy. And the conversation I am taking part in here was in regards to actresses and entertainers, because I think they are the ones whose bodies we dissect and call “disgustingly thin” or “disgustingly fat,” but if you want to talk about people in general, frankly I have never met anyone who has been called thin in a derogatory way, or has been called thin and taken offense to it. I don’t think you could say the same for someone who has been called fat. Arguing otherwise comes off as disingenuous to me. I think in the case of “real people,” rather than entertainers, Oregon33’s post below sums it up pretty nicely. And in the case of entertainers, well, it’s telling to me that this article, which didn’t even mention McCarthy’s weight, automatically turned into a discussion about her body in the comments section. Would that have happened if an equally straightforward article had been written about Kristen Wiig?

      • jk

        Sorry, meant to say the post by Biggirlsdontcry sums it up nicely, not Oregon33.

      • bana

        jk said, “Let’s save the lecture on “poor skinny girls who get made fun of for being skinny.” That double standard does not exist, I’m afraid.”

        You have no idea what you’re talking about. I was average weight for years and was picked on for my hair, my lips, my skin color, my clothing sense, my lack of money, my teeth – you name it someone teased, picked or bullied me about it.

        Then I was overweight for 10+ years. Nobody picked on me as much as I did in my own mind.

        Then I dropped all the excess weight and you wouldn’t believe the people that tell me to ‘eat a donut’ or tell me I look anorexic or am too skinny. It happens on a much more frequent basis than anyone zinging me when I was fat. I deserve to be treated with as much respect now, don’t I? BTW, I’m 5’2″, 125 and on the muscular side with a BMI of 22. Nowhere near close to anorexic – so these aren’t comments of concern and they’re mostly from people overweight to morbidly obese.

      • jk

        @bana: My point is: Are you offended by people who tell you you’re too thin? Because I truly believe you’re lying if you say you are. And if we’re talking respect, then yes of course I think all people deserve to be respected, but I also think that fat people in general get treated with much less respect than other people. I have also been many different sizes, from very thin to a little overweight, and some people treated me much worse when I was heavy when I was thin. It’s not always just about the words people use.

    • Oregon33

      I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. Growing up I was an athlete and just naturally thin (a 22 inch waist.. yeah) and I had the MEANEST things said about me by girls who were, honestly, jealous of the way I looked. They called me scrawny and anorexic and a skank and blah blah blah. In the last few years I’ve gained about 70 lbs. I don’t look super unhealthy and I’m not obese, but comments are still made about my weight. My ex-boss actually made a comment about how I should go to “omar the tent maker for my clothes”.. and that comment was made when I was a healthy size 8! People have their prejudices and unfortunately, perception colors every judgment made. What is healthy to one is grossly obese/skinny to another.

      The point I’m making… we are all people, deserving of consideration and respect. Body type really shouldn’t determine the worth you assign to an individual.

      As I told this one jerk.. “I’m a person, not a pant size.”

      No one can deny that this woman is not only lovely, but FUNNY and full of life.

    • Alex

      What a fine example of a fat pig to gross us out. The problem with a woman like this who is “proud” to be a big girl is that they’ve accepted it without thinking about the fact that when she’s at the bar in a tight dress clinging to her disgusting form, we’re loosing our lunch. I guess good genes don’t run in her family. Jenny may not be talented but at least she’s nice to look at. Melissa should have been put down at birth so we wouldn’t have to look at her. There’s a reason society’s so ugly today- it’s called fat people.

      • Rob

        Perhaps you’re the reason why society is so ugly today.

        “Look at me! I can sit behind my computer and spout crap out! I’m so awesome.”

      • Sabrina

        @ Alex:
        WOW, what a completely horrid, disgusting attitude you have. I am to assume that you are ripped and perfectly toned? I think not, you’re probably one of those guys who only shines the critical light on the ladies while you yourself has a pot belly and man boobs. Oh wait, you could also easily be one of those ultra computer nerds who jacks it to the CGI/digitally animated fantasy women of video games who look nothing like a real living person.
        Just because a fuller figured gal isn’t your type doesn’t mean she should have beem ‘put down’ at birth… I have news for you, lots of guys loooovvve a curvy voluptuous woman. It’s called different strokes for different folks.

      • Missy

        Oh Alex. Let me guess – you’re the guy from the soloflex commercials, right? Love how idiots post anonymously on the internet to judge the physical appearance of others. Tell you what, why don’t you post a shot of yourself and let the rest of us tell you what we think of you? If you’re even half as ugly outside as you are inside, I imagine we’ll need a couple extra sheets of paper to list all of your faults. Pathetic.

    • Doug

      I notice many people here talking about how it’s ok or not ok to call a thin person a disgusting twig but its never ok to say someone is fat and gross? So often I see women that are overweight say they are happy with their curves, happy with their weight, happy the way they look and how they feel like a woman etc etc etc THEN they lose weight and suddenly they’re posing in bikinis, talking about how hurtful the comments were about their weight, how shy they were to wear a bathing suit, how much healthier they feel now, etc etc etc. Let’s face it, we are a very fat unhealthy nation with the percentage of obese growing every day. It is not right to be obese, its not right to be fat, its not healthy to be fat, let me rephrase that, it is NEVER healthy to be fat. Disneyland had to change the size of their rides (installed in the 50’s) to accomodate all our new fat people!! Should we now have special fat seats reserved in planes?? When is this acceptance and tolerance going to stop? We should not be adapting to fat people, we should force them to get their act together!!! Remember our taxes go to supplement fat people’s healthcare: heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, is it really good to be fat? I don’t think so!! Let’s face it, in our society, if you are thin, tall and good looking you’ll probably go far, if you can’t do anything about your looks or height, at least lose some weight! Thin people are thin for a reason, they feel good and they look good, and our society judges people by their looks whether you like it or not.

      • L

        What a truly bitter person you are. Clearly, you’ve never had the struggle of being overweight. You, sir, are part of the problem.

  • Heidi

    I am one of those moms and really truly want to just look at myself as a great wife and mom and friend, and smart as a whip, and not focus so much on the fact that I’m not on most people’s ‘hot list’ anymore. Its so strange because I looked at her as Suki and as Molly and find her beautiful. I don’t see her weight the way I see mine. But I should. And I find her layers so fantastic, she makes this movie and I hope her writing career takes off. Something tells me I’d like her view of a ‘funny woman’ alot more than what is out there.

  • Donna

    I love her, she’s such a great actress. I can’t wait to see this movie!

  • Shannon

    She shines

  • jason

    She is really funny on Mike & Molly and Samantha who, looking forward to this movie.

  • Chichi

    Well how about we not have another white person clogging up the screen when there hasn’t been an asian movie star in like what … I dunno, EVER!

    • Alissa

      …Lucy Liu? Jackie Chan? Bruce Lee? I understand there’s a stereotype in the latter two playing martial arts characters, but even still, they’re Asian, and movie stars.

    • Simon

      Jackie Chan and Jet Li would disagree and besides I don’t get what that has to do with this article at all.

  • AlyssaG

    That Bridesmaids clip slays me.

  • suz

    She really does steal this film like she stole Samantha Who. I really do hope these roles make her a star.

  • Otter

    When they make a movie called Pig Night at the Theta Nu house, she would be the perfect star…oink oink!

    • n

      Omg, your so funny! LOLOLOLOLOL! Get a life, douchebag.

      • Otter

        Learn proper English moron, it’s you’re so funny.

      • Sarah

        I would rather be a poor speller than ignorant and insensitive.

    • sally

      Not only was that terribly unfunny, but it was also mean. You’ve just displayed worst kind of humor. I’m sorry you’re such a miserable person Otter with absolutely no sense of humor.

      • Otter

        Well Sally, I also heard she is up for the lead in two re-makes…the Hindenburg and Free Willy…playing the title character in both…do you find that funny?

      • n

        I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, but Otter, I hope someone comes to your house and cuts your arms off. You dumb sh*t. I would bet my left tit that you weigh more than Melissa….probably some poor sap who lives in his mother’s basement and trolls the web ALLLLLL day, every day.

    • grwhitaker

      Listen putz, Marilyn Monroe was a size 14 real woman. It must be easy for you to make jackcrap comments like this, since you haven’t had a date in about … ever.

      • bana

        grwhitaker: clearly you don’t realize that Monroe’s size 14 is today’s size 6 or 8 (it’s called vanity sizing). Men were salivating over her hourglass figure. Using the term ‘real woman’ to describe fat women is insulting to all women.

        Granted, Monroe had an enviable shape, but no matter how much weight I gain, I will not look like her. I’d look like a barrel (all to my stomach, some to my hips and derriere)and wore a size 14 to 18 depending on the clothes. No one thought my barrel shape made me look like a real woman. More like a man actually. So I’m glad I look like a 10-year-old boy now because as much as I think I’d like her body, it’s better than carrying the extra equivalent of a 3rd grade girl – makes being a physically active person MUCH easier!

      • Crystal

        You’re glad you look like a 10-year old boy? Are you a 10-year old boy? Because if you aren’t, you probably shouldn’t be happy to look like one. Also, I’d question the men/women that are interested in you sexually . . .

      • bana

        crystal:
        deliberately misunderstanding my comment comes across as lack of reading comprehension.

        My body has little-to-no curves at my ideal weight. If I gain weight, I will NOT look like Marilyn Monroe, I will look like a barrel (been there, done that).

        So (pay attention closely Crystal) I’m ‘gladder’ that I look like a 10 yo boy as opposed to a fat barrel. Being fat is hard, tiring and a pain in the butt. Being a size 1/2 is awesome. And a padded bra and spandex in the jeans gives me as hourglass a shape as I’m ever going to have.

        Since I’m never going to have Marilyn’s figure, I’ve decided to be happy with the one that I’ve got.

  • Holly

    She is so funny in Bridesmaids. At first, I did think her character was really weird, but by the end, I thought she was just terrific.

  • Michael

    I adore Melissa; long may she reign!!

    • Kat

      Seconded!

  • n

    SOOOOOO excited to see this movie! It will be a perfect, “out-of-school, done-with-finals” celebration movie! And this chick KILLS me; I love when she’s talking about doing the fight club for the bachelorette party. LOL.

  • nunnya

    I saw an advanced screening and she is fabulous.

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