Underneath the outrageous protagonist at the center of her new movie, "Tammy," is an insecure person at a crossroads in her life, says Melissa McCarthy — something the actress believes moviegoers can easily relate to.
“I think there’s a little Tammy in everybody,” she told reporters at the film's premiere in Hollywood on Monday.
The movie, opening Wednesday, follows a Midwestern fast-food employee who hastily leaves town with her alcoholic grandmother (Susan Sarandon) in tow after finding out her husband is cheating on her.
“I think we all know the right choices we need to be making, and every day we don’t make all those choices," McCarthy said of Tammy's plight. "There’s a little bit of our own worst enemy in all of us."
Though McCarthy had a seven-year run on WB’s “Gilmore Girls” and a continuing starring role in the CBS sitcom "Mike & Molly, her movie breakthrough didn't come until 2011’s “Bridesmaids." The supporting role led to leading roles in “Identity Thief" and "The Heat" — films that established her as a certified box-office star.
Though it's receiving lackluster reviews, "Tammy" seems poised to become McCarthy's next hit, with industry estimates pegged at $45 million over the long July 4 weekend.
Unlike McCarthy’s other films, however, “Tammy” hits closer to home: She and husband Ben Falcone co-wrote the screenplay after coming up with the idea six years ago.
McCarthy and Falcone, who made his directorial debut on "Tammy," grew up in Illinois and met while in the famed Los Angeles improv comedy group the Groundlings in the late 1990s. They have been writing and collaborating ever since.
“We became really good friends because we loved writing and collaborating,” McCarthy said. “We fell in love, we got married … it was fun from the first day we [collaborated], and it hasn’t changed.”
The couple’s chemistry was obvious on the red carpet, where they finished each other’s sentences and played off one another’s jokes while talking to reporters.
“He’s my favorite person to work with … and to marry,” McCarthy said.
“She has been my favorite person to marry, as well,” Falcone said.
Though they have worked together before — most notably in “Bridesmaids,” in which McCarthy’s character harasses Falcone’s character on a plane — it was different with Falcone in the director’s chair.
“He’s a screamer,” McCarthy joked.
“I’m a tyrant,” Falcone added.
Despite the jokes, McCarthy’s costar Mark Duplass, who plays her love interest in the film, said he admired the couple’s professional rapport on set.
“As a person who works with his brother and as a person who has worked with his wife, I will say they had the skill sets really down,” Duplass said, referring to his frequent co-director, brother Jay Duplass, and spouse, “The League” star Katie Aselton. “Like, ‘Validate, validate, validate. I'm going to listen to you and respect you and keep the fights at home.’ ”
As for directing his wife, Falcone said he wasn’t surprised by McCarthy’s dedication to the role.
“I knew how funny she is, and I’ve seen her preparation in the house and stuff, but I haven’t been there every single day,” he said. “Just to see how prepared she was to make herself ready to be that funny and that good…. I was happy to see it.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times