Tuesday, October 19, 2021

How Melissa McCarthy tells jokes, and the animated movie with Rainn Wilson that inspired her new film

Melissa McCarthy, a comedian of many talents and currently sizzling on the Hollywood scene thanks to her leading role in the new movie, The Boss, talked to The Times about a little movie called The Starling, her next project, and how she gets her jokes.

The Starling is about a mother and daughter …

It’s about a mother and daughter duo …

I just love this mother-daughter story. The last movie I thought of was The Parent Trap, but it didn’t make it on to the playground.

But there’s plenty of time …

There is also [a voiceover] by Rainn Wilson. He’s another one of my favorite people.

You first started your career playing a lunatic …

I really don’t think of myself that way. But I saw the character I played on Gilmore Girls, and I liked it. It was probably the funniest thing I’ve ever done. It came completely out of left field, and I had no experience. And when that happened I thought, “OK, this might be a job.” I never thought for a second I would be able to do it anymore. It came into existence out of nowhere.

[In The Starling] …

This is a mother and daughter with a rather bizarre relationship. It’s very complicated, and it’s also a love story. It’s about two amazing human beings, and how we do create a family and how we don’t.

What is a joke to you?

I don’t know. I don’t do jokes. They’re so not for me. I don’t know why I just do them. I don’t think, “How’s a joke?” I don’t know. That’s just me. I just do them.

There have been times in your career that you’ve had to get rid of these characters.

There have been times in my career where I was like, “I’m going to get rid of that crazy bitch.” It was fun for a couple of weeks. And then it was like, “Ok, now I’m back to who I am.”

Sometimes in comedy you just feel like you’re letting them down or a part of yourself is missing. Do you ever have to pinch yourself about what you’re doing?

I don’t think there is any time like that. I think, in general, I kind of fell into this world and it just so happened that it was doing comedy. When I came into it, I didn’t really have any experience doing anything besides stripping. There was no acting stuff. But it was a happy accident, and there really is no reason to think, “Oh, this person I am right now is going to be forever.” I wish I could do phone calls.

People wonder why you don’t do any voicemails …

They always go, “Can you get an actual message on the phone?” And it’s like, “Can I do an actual voicemail? I can only do a message on the phone. But I love you, just call me. I will call you back.”

Why is it that your voice is so friendly?

[Laughs] It’s just how I talk. I love people and I’m always encouraging. And I really only have to think twice before being a huge dork.

When did you first realize that everything is a joke, and if you said it one more time you’d get in trouble?

[Laughs] I just figure you do your joke and you start to feel better. Because once that happens your problem becomes how do you tell people. How do you tell them? What is the new one? And sometimes you just feel like you’re doing it all wrong. And I think that’s why I can keep doing this.

What is a joke to you?

I don’t know. I don’t know why I just do them. I don’t think, “How’s a joke?” I don’t know. That’s just me. I just do them.

The Boss is in theaters now.

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