Melissa McCarthy knows a good wig when she sees one, and rarely will she let it go until she’s had her way with it. Such is the case with the spiky red hairpiece that transformed McCarthy into an abrasive self-help guru named Michelle Darnell—think Suze Orman meets Tony Robbins—some 10 years ago at the Groundlings sketch-comedy theater in Los Angeles.
Now McCarthy’s reprising the role in 2016’s R-rated comedy of the same name, which she wrote with her husband, director Ben Falcone, and Steve Mallory. “Michelle clawed for everything she had, and she did not do it in the most karmic way,” McCarthy says.
Turns out clawing your way to the top makes the fall from grace all the more steep. Fresh out of prison after an insider-trading charge, Darnell concocts a new plan with the help of her old assistant (Kristen Bell), enlisting a misfit Daisy troop to hawk homemade brownies. The marketing scheme leans on the free labor of the Daisies, dubbed Darnell’s Darlings—but the girls are tougher than they look. “This is not a sweet, shiny group of girls,” McCarthy says. “They’re kind of like young thugs.”