Michelle Darnell, the (sorta) hero of The Boss (out April 8), is a brash, foulmouthed celebrity mogul who’s clawing her way back to the top after being sent to prison for insider trading. She is overbearing — and a grade A narcissist — but in Melissa McCarthy’s hands, Michelle is weirdly impossible to resist. “I really do love her,” says McCarthy. “I have to love a character to play them — even when they are behaving poorly.”
The role was born during McCarthy and director Ben Falcone’s days in the Groundlings more than a decade ago. According to Falcone — who’s also married to his leading lady — McCarthy arrived on set with the character fully realized. “She was very certain about [Michelle] early on,” he says. “I know that we’re getting to a fun place for Melissa when she goes, ‘I know exactly how she’s going to look and what she’s going to wear and what she says.’… It’s a complete vision.” Falcone and McCarthy, along with costume designer Wendy Chuck and hair designer Linda Flowers, break down Michelle’s look.
Michelle’s signature ensembles tend to involve turtlenecks, glitter, and large organza bows — often tied over the turtlenecks. “I’ve always been enamored of these women who are put together — the kind who spend two hours locking it down,” says McCarthy. So she and costume designer Wendy Chuck created one. “Wendy is so incredible,” says Falcone. “There wasn’t a scene where Michelle isn’t done up just so.” But it wasn’t easy. “There were nights my assistant stayed up bedazzling things,” Chuck says.
“We’d go to wig stores and take photos and laugh and laugh,” says McCarthy’s longtime collaborator, hair designer Linda Flowers. McCarthy says she knew immediately that Michelle was a redhead, and it was up to Flowers to find just the right shade. “She’s one of the most methodical people I know,” Flowers says. “She likes to laugh and have fun, but her standards are so high.”
Michelle’s manicured hands go back to McCarthy’s days with the Groundlings, when she used to put on French tips. “Ben says I’ve never used my hands so much,” McCarthy says. “I don’t normally wear [long nails], but I have to say, my hands look better!”
“Michelle rejected inexpensive fabric — I’ve never seen it happen before,” says McCarthy with a laugh. “It’s like the character knew we were trying to trick the camera, and it just wouldn’t look right unless it was the highest of high-end.” (Says Falcone: “Our producers were thrilled.”) “I do love this bronze satin suit,” says McCarthy, “and satin is not the most forgiving of fabrics!”
To continue reading more from Entertainment Weekly pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or buy your choice of the six collectible covers here – and subscribe now for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.