Funny Girl Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy is giving women everywhere the confidence to embrace who they are.
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What happens when a famous actress meets an even more famous actress? If you're Melissa McCarthy, you start babbling. A lot. "Like when I met Meryl Streep at this year's Golden Globes," says McCarthy. "I don't know what you're supposed to say to her. I wanted to say something smart and worthy, and what came out of my mouth was, 'Oh my God, you're Meryl Streep!' And then I said, 'I'm sorry I keep saying that. I know you know who you are.' And then: 'Oh my God, you're Meryl Streep.'"

These days a lot of people are saying, "Oh my God, you're Melissa McCarthy." Because 2011 was a very good year: She won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. She hosted Saturday Night Live, which got one of its biggest audiences of the year. And then, of course, there was her Oscar-nominated role in Bridesmaids. New Yorker critic David Denby described her performance as Megan, the bawdiest bridesmaid, this way: "She is a deadpan lewd comic, proud of her weight and alarmingly active at throwing herself at people. Loose cargo in a pearl necklace, McCarthy makes Roseanne Barr seem bashful."

Lucky for us, there's more of McCarthy's signature over-the-top humor on the way. This summer she will produce, and star in, Tammy, a road-trip movie she and her husband, actor Ben Falcone, dreamed up. And while there are no plans for a Bridesmaids sequel (boo!), she does hope to work with her costars again. "I'd do anything with that group of actresses," she says. "Say the word and I'm there."

Ladies' Home Journal spoke with McCarthy about her breakthrough year, all that has changed and the things that blessedly have not.

There's such a sense of confidence in your humor. Did you always think you would make it in Hollywood, even in the early days?

I guess I thought: I don't see why I wouldn't make it. I mean, I'm not right for everything, but I'm right for some things. I do remember one casting guy saying, "Well, she doesn't read like a neighbor." And I thought, Really? That's weird. Tell that to my neighbors. Apparently they didn't like the way I looked or whatever. But still, I always had friends and family who said, "You can do this." And I thought: Why not?

Is there anything at all that makes you nervous?

A still camera -- you know, just being myself. What am I supposed to do? Left to my own devices I look like this [she makes an insane frozen Cheshire cat grin], like the worst grade school photo ever. It's so much easier for me to play a character.

So is it difficult, now that the paparazzi have started following you around?

There's this one guy that photographs me coming out of my Pilates place, and he's there two or three mornings every week. I want to say, "Hey, it's the exact same picture!" It's me in my leggings with my hair in a bun, climbing into the same car. "So, is this working for you? Are you making money off this?"

On-screen you're fearless about your sexuality: that SNL sketch where you played Arlene, crazily hitting on her coworker...and of course, Bridesmaids.

One of my favorite things is playing someone who's utterly confident -- even if they're, just, like, wrong. They're off the beaten track. They're not polished or perfect, but they're so solid in their shoes. They're having the time of their life. And I always think, Now, that's someone who's interesting. They don't give a s--- what they're supposed to be, or how they're supposed to look. I find them mesmerizing. I think there's greatness in not caring what other people think.

Continued on page 2:  Acting Was Plan B


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