Melissa McCarthy: Get to know the Emmy scene-stealer
If there was a belle of this year’s Emmys ball, it would have to be Mike & Molly‘s Melissa McCarthy, who was crowned best lead actress in a comedy series. It was a triumphant moment for an actress who, in the last year, went from having her right to star on a sitcom about two people falling in love questioned, to being the breakout star of the box office hit Bridesmaids and landing an upcoming spot hosting Saturday Night Live (Oct. 1). EW’s long been a fan of Groundlings alum McCarthy, an unsung hero on Gilmore Girls and Samantha Who?, and in 2009, we got to know her better with an EW Pop Culture Personality Test. Like all good comedy, it still holds up…
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When do you yell at the TV?
MELISSA McCARTHY: It will probably sound so crazy, bad design shows. I watch HGTV like a maniac, and when it’s bad, it’s like some crazy college guy watching a football game. My poor husband [actor Ben Falcone] is always like, “Really? Are you really yelling about a wallpaper?” And like, any time someone says, “Tuscan. I want it to look like Tuscany!” I want to rip my head off my neck. It’s like an epidemic in this country.
Your worst DVR mishap?
My daughter is 22 months, and oh god, it still literally makes me shiver. There’s an episode of Sesame Street with this crazy kind of ’70s song, “That’s Not Homer.” Strangely, we all dance to it quite often. And at some point, someone in the house erased it, which no one will take blame for. To this day, it’s still a hot topic of who erased “That’s Not Homer.” She always is like, “Homer… Homer… Homer.” I just point at Ben, and he just points at me. I’m sure he blames me in secret, because I blame him. If anyone in the world has a copy of that, we’re talkin’ big money to get that.
Did you write a fan letter to anyone when you were young?
You know what, I loved Wonder Woman so much that Lynda Carter made me crazy. I loved her. I wrote her a letter and drew her a picture of her. I was always mystified by the whisper-thin Lasso of Truth. I was completely bonkers for her. It was my first girl-crush.
Did you get a response?
No. Because I basically may as well have buried it in my yard. I put it in a mailbox with no address. I’m pretty sure I labeled it, like, “To: Wonder Woman.”
The piece of pop culture memorabilia from your childhood that you wish you still had?
My sister and I were in the Leif Garrett fan club, as any logical person would’ve been at the time. And when you joined the fan club you received a 45 record of him talking. But you could hear the pages turning of the script. It’s like, “Hi, it’s Leif. I’m so glad that you’re part of my fan club. You mean a [page turn] lot to me.” It was so mechanical. Even as a kid, I was like, Didn’t anybody listen to this? You can hear the pages turning of the script! But it was supposed to be a personal message to you from Leif. We still played it like crazy, but…
A celebrity sighting that made you freak out?
When I first moved to LA, the first person I really freaked out over was Chris Farley. I just thought he was amazing. It was in a Starbucks. And I just wish I would’ve said, “I love you.” I’ll always regret that I didn’t just say it. ‘Cause he seemed so shy.
Your best communal moviegoing experience?
[Thinks] Oh my god, I actually forgot about this. The Postman with Kevin Costner. The heroic postman. We were like, This seems crazy. We should go see it. ‘Cause I loves me a bad movie. I just remember people laughing throughout the whole thing, and I thought, Oh, this is probably not the response they were hoping for. A speech would be made — “Gotta get the mail through” — and people were just roaring.
The movie you have to watch every time you spot it on cable?
Groundhog Day. I’m physically not capable of not watching it.
The R-rated movie you saw too young?
Carrie. I was way, way, way, way, way too young. I was supposed to be in bed, and I snuck downstairs and hid behind a door and watched it through a crack. I was so scared but I couldn’t say anything to my parents because I wasn’t even supposed to be up. So I just sat there in a weird, dark corner watching Carrie and having a heart attack.
The song you wish you’d written?
Can you bleep out a word? I’ll tell you, “F— the Pain Away” by Peaches is both hilarious and great. I’m like, “At first you think it’s funny…” and then everyone I know is like, “and then you love it?” And I’m like, “Yes. And then I love it.”
What is your position on karaoke?
It depends on how much I’ve imbibed. ‘Cause right now, I’m like, “Eh, I don’t really love it.” Three or four Jack and Gingers in me, and I’m like, “I don’t know why I don’t have an album.” As my talent decreases — and I’m starting at a negative singing — I just get more confident and really loud. What I lack in talent, I really make up for in volume. Which is just excruciating from what I’ve heard.
Is there a song you always end up doing?
Sadly, because I find it funny and I love it but no one else does. In a certain state, I will always go for “Jolene.”
[Gasps] How do people not love “Jolene”?
I don’t think it’s the song. I think it’s my flat, monotone Chicago accent. Going into a karaoke place, I’ll be like, What you’re not doing tonight is singing “Jolene.” And then 90 minute later, it’s me like, “Hit it!” It’s really quite pathetic.
The thing you keep saved on your DVR for when you need a quick pick me up?
There is an infomercial regarding a little product called The Magic Bullet that is one of the best worst pieces of theater I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a little mixer. Like, “Aren’t you tired of chopping?” But instead of being that direct, these people are pretending that they’re really hanging out in a kitchen. Supposedly, they’re all staying in a house, and they had a party the night before, and they’re all hung over. And there’s a woman who comes out in a cheap housecoat and is pretending to be an old woman. And she keeps pretending to smoke but the cigarette’s not lit. It’s genius. If they made a feature of The Magic Bullet, I would go see it a thousand times. Anyone out there, if you can treat yourself to the Bullet, I beg you. I’ve saved that thing, and there’s no mood it can’t get you out of. There’s a guy in a Hawaiian shirt with jokes. It’s more than you would think anyone on Earth would have the nerve to put all in one thing. It’s so bad that you can’t believe what you’re actually watching on TV. It’s fantastic. [For more of McCarthy’s love of the awesomely bad, check out the YouTube page for 100 Pounds of Candy, which includes “ridiculous ’70s chase scenes” she, her husband, and their friends filmed under the title Hard Streets, as well as videos of Marbles, a character she originated at the Groundlings.]
The person you’re most often mistaken for?
I get a lot of “You look just like…” and it’s always awkward to say, “That’s me!” When I say, “Oh, that is me,” they’ll say, “Yep, you look just like her. Just like her. Do you ever watch that show?” It starts at Gilmore, then it goes to Samantha Who?. I say it so they can hear me, “That is me. I’m an actress.” “Well, you look just like her. Just like her.” It’s always like I’m in a weird vacuum where they’re not hearing what I’m saying. I’ve had that happen probably like six or seven times. It’s so weird. Even if I’m with somebody, they’re like, “No, you have said it. Like five or six times.” Every time I think, Am I having a stroke, and I don’t realize it?