Melissa McCarthy, the breakout star of the blockbuster hit Bridesmaids (a role which earned her an Academy award nomination), defies the odds in Hollywood. She refuses to succumb to the movie star standard of a size 2 and yet her plus-size figure hasn’t precluded her from landing lead roles in such movies as The Heat, opposite Sandra Bullock, Identity Thief with Jason Bateman, not to mention the lead in the TV comedy, Mike and Molly.
Now a bonafide movie star with enough clout to get her own projects green-lit (she is often referred to as “box office gold”), next up she stars in the titular role in the upcoming comedy Tammy, which she wrote with her husband (and frequent co-star), Ben Falcone.
“I’m not a size 2 but I am very wildly healthy,” she says. “I do really physical movies and I run after my two kids.” McCarthy has two daughters: Vivian, seven, and Georgette, four.
“I think like most women you go up and down. I’ve been eight million different sizes. And, yes, I hope it magically and delightfully falls off me one day, but you know, I don’t even think about it. My kids are healthy, I have a dreamy husband and I see myself as a work in progress. I exercise, I do Pilates,” she says.
Refreshingly, McCarthy doesn’t see her appearance as an issue that needs “fixing”. She says, “The point of watching actors is to forget you’re watching actors. It should look like a slice of life so you can be the most beautiful person or the regular Joe. But when everybody starts to look alike, to me, it becomes a little like elevator music. I tune out.”
But in an ageist, sexist world of movie stardom, her weight could have posed a struggle for her, at least in the beginning of her career?
“It was a struggle but not necessarily for that reason. I’ve been up, I’ve been down; I’ve been everything. Maybe the way I am helps to break the monotony of everyone having to be perfect at all times.”
Friends with Rebel Wilson, who also balks at the notion that all women need to fall within certain weight regulations, McCarthy says of one of Australia’s beloved comediennes, “I love Rebel. You never know what’s going to come out of her mouth. I love that she literally just lets it rip. She has a good time and doesn’t take herself too seriously.”
McCarthy lives in Los Angeles and enjoys the quiet life. “People think I’m going to kick a door in, start swearing and throw chairs over them; maybe hit them with a bottle of beer,” she laughs. “But in real life I don’t swear much and I don’t hit people. I’ve never even thrown a condiment at my husband. There might be something weirdly therapeutic that I get to go crazy in movies.”
Despite her fame and success, there’s nothing like your kids to keep you grounded. “The first billboard I was ever on was for Mike and Molly. Ben and I took the kids and said, ‘Do you want to see something amazing?’ And we drove through Hollywood and he said, ‘Look up’. The girls saw it and said, ‘Oh Mama, that’s amazing.’ Then we drove to a nearby drugstore to do some shopping. They saw these 75-cent rubber balls and they both lit up and said, ‘But these are really amazing!’