Melissa McCarthy: ‘Nothing is more unflattering than someone who doesn’t try’

The Duke of Sussex and Duchess of Sussex at a welcome ceremony in Wellington

Melissa McCarthy covers the February issue of InStyle as part of her Oscar campaign for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the true story of Lee Israel and her forgery scheme. I’m not sure many people had Melissa on their shortlists for awards this year, but she’s quietly picking up some significant nominations (SAG, Golden Globe, BAFTA) and some critics awards. I wasn’t even aware that she was really campaigning that much, but this InStyle piece is long, comprehensive and very, very good. This is the kind of interview I would have expected from the trade papers or Vanity Fair. You can read the full piece here (it’s a long-read) and here are some highlights:

There’s too much darkness in film & TV these days: “I think we keep getting so dark. I had a friend ask me to make her a list of 15 shows that everybody’s talking about that are really good and weren’t going to give her nightmares. I could not for the life of me come up with it. I was like, “Oh my god, I’m not coming up with five.” Yeah, it is a choice. And it’s also what you keep feeding yourself all day. I’m obsessed with people and their behavior. I used to go and watch people. Like, weirdly. I just love people’s weirdness. And I do so many terrible things all the time, by the way, so I don’t think I’m above it at all.”

She’ll never be too cool: “If you’re too cool to do the job, it pisses me off. Even if it’s a dumb joke, your job as an actor is to make it better. So [if you don’t], you suck more than the person who wrote it. 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. Lack of effort is such a douchey, poseur thing to do. I’d rather watch someone try hard and fail.

On being called ‘grotesque’: “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.” He goes, “Oh, fine, I’m aggressive, call it whatever you want. If you don’t want to answer the questions, you shouldn’t come to the panel.” I was like, “I really want to answer your questions. I’m sorry I didn’t wear makeup in a part. I’m sorry I didn’t look pleasant for you. But I also don’t think you should be here writing about movies.” I thought if I tell him to eff off, he will win on every possible level.

Another incident: “I do remember another interview I did for Bridesmaids with somebody who later lost his job for a conversation he had on a bus with someone else. I won’t mention names, but just think about it. He kept asking, “Are you shocked that you actually work in this business at your tremendous size?” He was like, “Oh, your tremendous size, you can actually work?” I just remember all the blood drained out of me. I thought, “With my tremendous size, I could tackle you so quickly.” There were two cameras on him, and one was on me, and he went back to that question three or four times, and I just kept talking about the script or how fun Paul Feig was. He was looking around like, “She’s crazy.” When we left, their producer was horrified and said, “We’ll never play what he said. I’m so sorry.” But it happens all the time, to the point where it’s fascinating because they don’t do it to men. Not to be a jerk or single him out, but when John Goodman was heavier, did anybody ever talk about his girth?

Tone-policing women: “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.

The importance of money: “I love it. I don’t worry about it. I spent a lot of years calling my sister, Margie, and my mom and dad [asking to borrow money]. I had multiple jobs, but sh-t happens. It was hard to keep it together when you’re not making a living wage, to state the incredibly obvious. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that stuff now. I’m not in a dream state, but I like not having to worry about my phone bill or insurance. I’m glad we make a steady living. I used to keep all the money, all the accounts, all the things to pay. Now I’m just like, “La, la, la.” I just want to take care of my kids.

[From InStyle]

The thing about money is SO important – Melissa didn’t have her big break until she was well into her 30s. She knows what it’s like to have crappy jobs that don’t pay anything, to borrow money from her family, to live paycheck to paycheck. She’s not going to pretend that she’s above talking about money, or that money doesn’t really matter. Money matters. A lot. As for her stories about the insults men lodge at her… Jesus Christ, people are just cruel and disgusting.

The Duke of Sussex and Duchess of Sussex at a welcome ceremony in Wellington

Covers courtesy of InStyle.

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34 Responses to “Melissa McCarthy: ‘Nothing is more unflattering than someone who doesn’t try’”

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  1. Pandy says:

    I would kill for that pink rose scarf!!! Article was a great read and her fashions were AMAZING. But not a big fan of her make up job in it.

    Other than that …. interesting on who her fave people are!!!

  2. Bunny says:

    “I do remember another interview I did for Bridesmaids with somebody who later lost his job for a conversation he had on a bus with someone else. I won’t mention names, but just think about it.”

    Billy Bush, who remains forever cancelled.

    • Tiffany says:

      Poetry Melissa, just poetry.

    • Scylla74 says:

      You cracked it… I blanked. Totally was on the “public bus” train (haha) which makes no sense.
      I love Melissa ever since the Gilmore Girls.

    • lucy2 says:

      I love that she called him out without calling him out.

      If the producers had to cut what he said because it was so awful, and promise the guest on their show it wouldn’t air, maybe they should have FIRED HIM.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      It’s sickening he behaved this way to Melissa.

  3. jwoolman says:

    Don’t know how such a guy manages to walk upright amongst all the normal variation in women’s sizes…. He must not have many real friends if he talks like that.

    Heaven forbid that he lay eyes on a pregnant woman. They don’t usually lose the weight fast, either, when they can’t afford multiple nannies and cooks and maids and hours daily with a personal trainer.

  4. Jillian says:

    I feel very unmotivated this week and I don’t know what to do.

    Just want to stay in all day and watch tv.

    I need help

    • CactusWren says:

      There are days, sometimes weeks like that, and I’m sorry you feel low. If you can think of any one small, simple task— just one— and do it; that’s a start. And the positive feeling from completing one thing fuels your next steps. This may not be a productive day or week but you’re doing a good job.

    • IntermediateWitchKit says:

      Me too, Jillian. I’ve hardly moved since yesterday afternoon. It just started snowing here but I’m going to force myself to take a walk around the block. I don’t know where you are, but we could walk “together” . . . ?

      And then I probably am going to watch some tv, but that’s ok too.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      I had a friend who once told me that when I feel like this, I should just pretend that I have the flu–you know, give myself two or three days of cozy throws, movie marathons and chicken soup. That advice has given me permission to veg out and get through some very blah times I’ve had in my life.

      • Killjoy says:

        *Edit* Oops! I meant to reply to OP!! *Edit*

        Consider downloading one of those free CBT-based, mindfulness apps. There is some preliminary research on these, but they are supposedly helpful for anxiety, and possibly depression. It’s helped me. It’s a very low lift, even if it doesn’t work. I use Youper, but there are others.

        Also, I second not beating yourself up and taking it easy if you want to. It’s snowing hear, so I’m in full blizzard mode. Diet is suspended, and I haven’t even showered yet today. 🙂

    • Pineapple says:

      Jillian I hope you had a restful day. Listen, just take a couple of days to rest. I LOVE the idea of pretending you have the flu. Pamper yourself. Rest. Then, when you are feeling better, go see a doctor. Chat with a friend or a help line. Maybe you need to talk to someone?? XO XO XO You obviously care for yourself, reaching out like this. Keep going. Have a coffee and keep going. XO

  5. Ronaldinhio says:

    Given the tone and content of the article I am still questioning why the cover shots are focussing and drawing focus to her head only.
    We must become more accepting of all size and every size age and colour should be represented being their bad selves.
    Also her make up, for a cover, is not great.
    Think she is hugely talented and underrated

  6. Nancy says:

    Agree with a lot of what she says, however, there is also the argument for there is nothing more unflattering than someone who tries too hard. I won’t even mention one of the Kardashian names, Khloe. Oops.

  7. leskat says:

    GET IT MELISSA!! There’s something about her that makes me want to high five everyone and hand out hugs because I think she’s so inspiring. She’s not scared to act, to totally be someone else, no matter how unlikable or strange or off kilter. And she’s so beautiful in real life.
    It makes me happy to know that she’s making real money and providing a good example and good life for her girls.

  8. lucy2 says:

    Great article and interview. I love her, and am so happy she’s getting critical and commercial success.

  9. supersoft says:

    I love her so, so much and she needs to get that Oscar. She or Glenn Close.

  10. minx says:

    I’ve always loved her and she looks wonderful.

  11. tealily says:

    I love the money comments, and I love that someone who deeply appreciates that kind of money is getting it. We all need to talk about money more.

  12. Lucy says:

    This interview was super badass. Loved the money talk, love how fearless she is when it comes to calling people out on their bs.

  13. Roxic says:

    Jillian you okay??

  14. Kristen says:

    I love Melissa McCarthy! I would tape a talk show just to listen to her interviews, she is wonderful and hilarious and talented. TEAM MELISSA 4-eva.

  15. TaniaOG says:

    My heart hurts thinking that some a-hole said that to her. Stay classy Melissa.

  16. Meg says:

    of course billy bush asked her that, and wouldn’t stop asking. I remember after he was fired jon oliver’s show did a montage of the other gross things he’s said throughout his career that were rude to women and just awful-women shouldn’t be photographed without makeup, etc. it makes total sense he was friends with trump and egged him on. His wife dropped him too-life imploded

  17. Meg says:

    For some reason ‘not trying is a douchey, poseur thing to do’ made me think of paris Hilton and justin beiber-people SNL famously hated as hosts because you need to just go for it on that show. Obviously that’s an extreme example as most people wont’ do well on that show but I think being funny and not trying are two different things which is what Melissa is trying to say here-the SNL cast can relate to not being funny its very easy to do but not trying? To me Melissa having this opinion contributes to why she hosts SNL so much and is clearly so well liked there. But even outside of that extremely scary situation of live comedy-so many are too insecure to just go for it because putting yourself out there and really trying something takes guts and its easy to sit on the sidelines just criticizing others. Amy poehler has a great line in her book-I seriously recommend that book to everyone-‘I don’t want to be around people who just talk about what others do, I want to be around people doing things in their own lives.’ Trying to reach a goal, etc. the character April ludgate in parks and rec-her character wasn’t like that to prove a point and was exaggerated for comedic effect but so many young millennials and the next generation are like that. They’re having less sex, millions aren’t in school or working, they got participation trophies growing up and weren’t given intangible integrity and self worth messages growing up and instead need outward signs like a narcissist

  18. Booradley says:

    Omg she is giving so much face in that pink scarf, love the look, love her