Melissa McCarthy on Hollywood sexism: It's an intense sickness
Melissa McCarthy calls herself a homebody, and it’s clear from observering her and husband Ben Falcone that home is probably a really fun place to be. The pair met as members of the Groundlings improv troupe, constantly make each other laugh, and clearly enjoy working together. They’ve appeared together on screen a handful of times, most memorably in Bridesmaids, in which McCarthy, as Megan, seduces Falcone’s Air Marshall Jon and their romance culminates in a raunchy sex scene involving deli meats. For obvious reasons, McCarthy has never shown that film to her daughters, ages 8 and 5. “I’m wondering how tough high school is going to be for them when people eventually show them the sandwich scene,” she says.
The couple is currently finishing work on Michelle Darnell, based upon a character McCarthy created during their Groundlings days. Falcone is directing. Their last outing as director and star was 2014’s Tammy, and its reception was, um, not great. McCarthy has now sworn off reading negative press. “I’ve stopped because I finally said, ‘This is not making me better. This hurts my heart,'” she says.
Several of the reviews attacked her appearance and offered unwanted commentary on the couple’s marriage. When McCarthy talks about it now, it’s clear how much it still angers her. She did, however get some closure.
At the Toronto Fillm Festival last September, a critic who had written a particularly vicious review of Tammy approached McCarthy to praise the new movie she was there to promote, St. Vincent. “Are you the one who wrote I was only a good actor when I looked more attractive and that my husband should never be allowed to direct me because he allowed me to look so homely?” she asked him.
He admitted he was. “Would you say that to any guy?” she continued. “When John C. Reilly—or any actor—is playing a character that is depressed and dejected, would you say, ‘Well, you look terrible!’?” She asked the critic if he had a daughter. He did. “Watch what you say to her,” she told him. “Do you tell her she’s only worthwhile or valid when she’s pretty?”
McCarthy doesn’t often speak out about the sexism in Hollywood and the media. But it’s apparent that she’s been thinking about it. A lot. “It’s an intense sickness,” she says. “For someone who has two daughters, I’m wildly aware of how deep that rabbit hole goes. But I just don’t want to start listening to that stuff. I’m trying to take away the double standard of ‘You’re an unattractive bitch because your character was not skipping along in high heels.'”
For more on Melissa McCarthy and Spy, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday.