Melissa McCarthy is opening up about a painful experience in her past. For InStyle’s Bad**s Women Issue (which McCarthy covers), the 48-year-old admits that bad reviews can “kind of” break her heart.
One seemed more than just an assessment of her performance, she recalls; it seemed personal. McCarthy explains: “I always feel like those characters become so real and personal. I really get protective. Years ago I was at a press conference for either The Heat or Tammy, and somebody from a very big organization kept asking me, ‘Why do you always feel the need to be so grotesque?’ It was a huge interview with maybe 100 people in the room, and he was sneering. I said, ‘What are we talking about? I can’t answer your question because I don’t understand it.’ He goes, ‘You look sloppy, you’re not wearing any makeup, your hair is not done, you’re yelling at people.’ I was like, ‘OK, so have you ever asked this of a guy? I’m playing a character. You need to get out more if you don’t think there are real women like that.’ He goes, ‘Oh, fine, I’m aggressive, call it whatever you want. If you don’t want to answer the questions, you shouldn’t come to the panel.'”
Sadly, that’s not the only experience she’s had along those lines. She recalls: “I do remember another interview I did for Bridesmaids with somebody who later lost his job for a conversation he had on a bus with someone else. I won’t mention names, but just think about it. He kept asking, ‘Are you shocked that you actually work in this business at your tremendous size?’ He was like, ‘Oh, your tremendous size, you can actually work?’ I just remember all the blood drained out of me. I thought, ‘With my tremendous size, I could tackle you so quickly.’ There were two cameras on him, and one was on me, and he went back to that question three or four times, and I just kept talking about the script or how fun Paul Feig was. He was looking around like, ‘She’s crazy.’ When we left, their producer was horrified and said, ‘We’ll never play what he said. I’m so sorry.’ But it happens all the time, to the point where it’s fascinating because they don’t do it to men. Not to be a jerk or single him out, but when John Goodman was heavier, did anybody ever talk about his girth?”
These attitudes are part of the reason she picks the wide-ranging roles she does, she says: “Even if it’s a broad comedy, I think it’s important to see people who maybe we shouldn’t like, but we like them anyway. Let’s not judge people like, ‘Ugh, they’re obnoxious, they’re too much of a people pleaser, or they’re grating or harsh.’ It’s like, ‘Yeah, but we all do that.’ I still think it’s good to show people who aren’t so shined up and pretty and perfect.”