Melissa McCarthy has defied Hollywood stereotypes and become one of the most successful women in the industry against all odds. There's no denying that Melissa McCarthy is funny. This woman takes major comedy risks, and they almost always pay off.
Keep reading to learn more about how Melissa became the all-star comedienne that she is today. Whether you fell in love with her on Gilmore Girls, in Bridesmaids, or on SNL, Melissa McCarthy has stolen hearts and screens all over the world.
Melissa McCarthy was born in Plainfield, Illinois to Sandra and Michael McCarthy. (Actress and model Jenny McCarthy is her cousin!) Melissa was raised on a farm by a Catholic family.
She went to St. Francis Academy in Illinois and she started her career in entertainment by doing stand-up comedy in Los Angeles and later in New York City. She practiced sketch comedy with The Groundlings, a famous improv troupe based in LA.
Before she ever got food poisoning in Bridesmaids, McCarthy made her first television appearance in an episode of the NBC comedy series Jenny, opposite her cousin Jenny McCarthy.
The first time she was in a movie was when she had a minor role in the comedy Go in 1999. After that, she was cast in films like Drowning Mona, Disney's The Kid, Charlie's Angels, The Third Wheel, and The Life of David Gale. In 2000, she was cast as Sookie St. James in the hit show Gilmore Girls.
A Breakout Year
In 2010 and 2011, Melissa McCarthy's career really took off. In September of 2010, McCarthy was cast in a leading role on the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. Her performance in Bridesmaids in 2011 completely changed the game.
That role launched Melissa McCarthy into superstardom. In 2011, she won a Primetime Emmy Award for her work on Mike & Molly. The next year she was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Saturday Night Live.
Melissa McCarthy married her longtime boyfriend, Ben Falcone, on October 8th, 2005. Ben is also an actor and he also performed with The Groundlings. Melissa and Ben have two daughters, Vivian, who was born in 2007, and Georgette, who was born in 2010.
Melissa was pregnant with Vivian during the last season of Gilmore Girls and her pregnancy was written into the show. Ben often makes cameo appearances in Melissa McCarthy's movies and TV shows.
A Production Team
In 2013, Melissa and Ben founded their own production company called On the Day. The first project they produced was a film called Tammy about a down-and-out woman who wants to visit Niagra Falls.
McCarthy usually earns around $10 million per role, but she took a smaller upfront salary for Tammy in exchange for a larger cut of the film's earnings. Tammy grossed $84.5 million in North America and $16 million in other territories for a total gross of $100.5 million. On the Day made Tammy for $20 million.
Her Own Fashion Line
Melissa McCarthy has always been interested in fashion. She studied textiles at Southern Illinois University, and she was interested in a career in fashion before she started acting. When she first moved to New York City, it was so she could attend the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Melissa teamed up with Sunrise Brands to create her first clothing collection. Her line is made for all women and it includes sizes up to a size 28.
Before Melissa McCarthy became the powerhouse actress and businesswoman she is today, her films received negative reviews from critic Rex Reed. Reed made several mean-spirited remarks about Melissa's weight, calling her "obese" among other insults. Melissa never let the comments get to her, but she has been steadily losing weight since her Mike & Molly days.
Melissa has lost an estimated 75 lb since Mike & Molly started airing. She says that she's lost the weight by eating a high protein diet and going to sleep early.
In 2011, McCarthy and Joshua Jackson were selected to announce the Primetime Emmy Award nominees. At the time, nobody told McCarthy that she would be announcing her own name. Melissa was nominated for an award for Mike & Molly but she found that out with everyone else when she announced her own name on live TV.
When Jackson announced her name, she was genuinely shocked and so overcome with emotions. It was difficult for her to get through the rest of the nominees.
A Very Canadian Heist
In 2011, McCarthy sold a pitch to Paramount Pictures for a movie that hasn't been made yet. The premise is that Melissa McCarthy would star as a woman who tries to steal the Stanley Cup.
Hopefully, this movie gets made at some point, but maybe in America, we're just way more into baseball than hockey. Maybe McCarthy needs to steal the World Series trophy instead. Now that's a movie I can get behind.
The Best Of Friends
Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer have actually been really good friends for over 20 years. Back in 2011, McCarthy and Spencer were both nominated for an Academy Award; McCarthy for her role in Bridesmaids and Spencer for her role in The Help.
Octavia Spencer ended up taking home the Oscar, but I bet losing doesn't feel so bad when you lose to one of your best friends. I'm sure Melissa McCarthy will win an Oscar one day.
Making Money Moves
Despite being told that she would never get cast in a movie because of her weight, Melissa McCarthy has been one of the world's highest paid actresses for the past few years now. In 2015, Forbes named her the third highest-paid actress in the world. In 2016, she was the world's second highest-paid actress with earnings of 33 million dollars.
She made the list again in 2017 and 2018. The future looks bright for McCarthy.
Her Inspiration For Her Bridesmaids Character Might Surprise You
Melissa McCarthy has said she based her Bridesmaids character, Megan, on Food Network host Guy Fieri. Melissa said, "every scene I would have my glasses on the back of my head. I tried for a long time to convince them to let me wear short, white, spiky hair, and they were like, 'You can't actually BE Guy Fieri.'"
I definitely didn't realize that she was acting like Guy Fieri, but now that I know, I can't unsee it.
She Prefers Real Face Time
Melissa once told More magazine, "My voice mail says, 'Please don't leave a message.’ I don’t check email. I don’t want to be that person who has their face buried in a screen. It makes me feel bad when people do it to me. I’m like, ‘You literally have something in front of your face; I feel awkward talking to you.'"
Technology has done so much for communication, but when it comes down to it, there's nothing like a good old fashioned conversation.
Now That's Commitment
Melissa was actually eight-and-half months pregnant with her second child when she auditioned for her role in Mike & Molly. The executive producer, Chuck Lorre, loved her and said her audition was "one of those moments you dream about."
Melissa went back to work very quickly after each of her children were born. She only took three months off with her first child, and four months off with her second.
She Went Through A Goth Phase
It's hard to imagine the upbeat, bubbly Melissa McCarthy as a goth kid, but she did experiment with that look for a while when she was a teenager. She dyed her hair blue-black, she wore fishnets on her arms, and she'd sneak into Chicago clubs.
Melissa said even though she looked goth, she never acted the part. She was too much of a goody-two-shoes. We're glad Melissa went back to a look that fits her personality better.
She Used To Be A Cheerleader
Melissa McCarthy doesn't enjoy talking about her weight in public, but she knows it's something she often has to address.
Melissa told Rolling Stone, “I thought I battled weight throughout high school, but I look back at pictures of me as a cheerleader, doing sprints, lifting weights, doing gymnastics, playing tennis, and while I wasn’t reed-thin like some girls – we’re so [expletive] up in this country that somehow equates that with better – I was a size six the entire time. So what on Earth was I freaking out about? Like, I would kill, absolutely kill, to look like that now.”
She Gave Herself A Deadline
In 2000, Melissa promised herself that if she didn't make some kind of progress in the entertainment industry by the time she turned 30, she would stop trying. She would get a normal job and put her acting dreams behind her.
A week before her 30th birthday, she got a call from her manager about auditioning for Gilmore Girls. Luckily for her (and for us), she got the part and the rest is history.
Marriage Is Weird
When asked if Melissa has any weird habits, Ben Falcone had a lot to say. He told Rolling Stone,
"She's been known to tap on my teeth before she goes to bed. And then, before sleeping, she’ll say, 'I just need to hook it,’ which means she has to jam her hand into my armpit. I’ll say, ‘Well, no, don’t put your hand there. It’s not comfortable.’ See, she wants to tickle me, and I don’t want her to do that. She’ll say, ‘I won’t move it. I won’t move it.’ And so finally I let her hook it – and then, of course, she tickles me.” Weird. But also cute.
She Has No Problem With Cursing
While some people have criticized Melissa McCarthy's comedies for being too raunchy, Melissa doesn't think they're that raunchy at all. To her, partial nudity is raunchy. Cursing is just fun.
Melissa explained, "I mean, once this reporter was like, 'Why are your characters so disgusting?’ And I was like, ‘Jeez, what do you mean?’ He goes, ‘You know, they’re disgusting. Look how she swears.’ I said, ‘If a guy was swearing like that, would you call him disgusting? So now, you tell me what part of the movie I was disgusting in?’"
She Doesn't Let Her Kids Watch All Of Her Movies
Even though Melissa is totally okay with swearing, she doesn't like to let her children watch her swear in movies. Her daughters have seen Ghostbusters and Identity Thief. Her youngest daughter doesn't like to see any stunts where Melissa gets hurt, even if it's explained to her that everything is fake.
Georgie (Melissa's youngest daughter) was pretty mad at Jason Bateman after she watched him "hurt" her mom in a movie.
She's Gotten Into Fights With Reporters
Once, during a panel interview, a reporter asked Melissa why she felt the need to be so grotesque in her movies. Melissa was not okay with his choice of words. She asked him what he meant, and he explained that her character doesn't wear makeup, looks sloppy, and yells at people. Melissa asked him if he had ever asked that question to a man, but he just didn't get what she was angry about.
Another reporter asked if she ever doubted that she would make it in the industry because of her "tremendous size."
How She Got To The Top
Pay isn't always fair for women in the entertainment industry (or any industry, for that matter). Even so, Melissa McCarthy has become one of the wealthiest people in Hollywood. So how did she do it? She fights for what she deserves.
Melissa told Glamour, "In the fight for fairness, everything else goes to a whiteout. I always think, Is the deal fair? Would you be asking the same thing of a guy in this position? And if the answer is 'It probably wouldn't be happening [to a guy],’ I’ll dig my teeth in for months.”
She Wasn't Always Rich And Famous
When Melissa McCarthy first moved to New York, she had so little money to her name that she couldn't even take $5 out of an ATM machine. The bank wouldn't let her withdraw that much because she didn't have enough in her account. This was back in the days when ATM machines actually gave out $5 bills.
Melissa explained to Glamour, "And then I thought, I don’t want to continue this pattern. I want to be able to pay the phone bill and not panic."
She Has A Weird Relationship With Blueberries
Melissa McCarthy spoke to Glamour about her complicated relationship with blueberries and avocados:
"I used to think that buying blueberries or an avocado was absolutely unnecessary—they were too expensive. Then once I started being able to buy a pint of blueberries, I would not eat them. I just kept throwing them away because I was like, 'I should wait and do something special with them.' For 15 years I would just throw away blueberries and avocados. I can’t tell you how much I wasted. At one point I was just like, ‘How about you just start eating blueberries? It’s getting weird.’"
She Used To Be A Waitress At A Nursing Home
When Melissa McCarthy was a teenager, she worked as a waitress at a nursing home. Melissa told AARP The Magazine, "When somebody who's 80 tells you it's going to be OK, you take that in." McCarthy also told the magazine about lessons she learned from her own mother, Sandy, including, "the world's a nicer, happier place if everybody has a sandwich!"
I think that's a very true statement. Have you ever seen an unhappy person eating a sandwich?
She Wormed Her Way Into An Oscar Nominated Movie
Melissa's husband, Ben was actually involved in the film Can You Ever Forgive Me? before she was. He has a small part in the film, and when he first brought his script home, Melissa absolutely fell in love with the story.
At one point it was looking like nobody was going to make the movie, so Melissa fought to get it made and to star in it. Her role in the film earned her an Oscar nomination, so I'd say that was a good move.
Nobody Thought Bridesmaids Was Going To Be A Smash Success
Bridemaids was a commercial and critical hit by all standards. While director Paul Feig always believed in the project, even he didn't think it would do as well as it did.
Melissa told InStyle, "I remember thinking, 'I don't know if this will work at all, but it seems like the funniest thing I’ve ever been a part of.’ My husband [actor and producer Ben Falcone] and I were over at Paul Feig’s house the night it opened, and everyone kept telling us that it was not going to open well. And then we were watching the numbers come in, and we jumped up, got in the car, and ran in and out of two different movie theaters. They were both packed, and the audiences were enjoying it. I felt like that was a whole change, like, maybe our sensibility works and we’re not alone. Maybe I can write stuff."
She Loves Working With Her Husband
A lot of people assume that it's difficult to work with your spouse, or that working with your spouse may cause marital problems. Melissa McCarthy and her husband haven't encountered any of those problems.
Reporters often ask her about the difficulties of working with Ben, and she always responds, "It's fun. We met doing this. We know we’ve been hit by a lucky stick... it’s, like, the best thing I’ve ever had in my life."
On Other Women In Hollywood
Melissa McCarthy likes to support talented, kind, wonderful people, especially other women in her industry. When InStyle asked her about women she respects, Melissa was quick to name Jennifer Aniston, Amy Adams, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, Nicole Kidman, and Alison Janney.
Melissa said that she wants Amy Adams to run for president, she wants Viola Davis to wake her up every morning and direct her life, and she admires how fame hasn't changed Alison and Octavia.
She's A Hard Worker
Melissa McCarthy doesn't take life lying down. She's more of a "go out there and make stuff happen" sort of person. You don't get to be one of the richest women in Hollywood by being lazy— and Melissa McCarthy is anything but lazy.
Melissa said that her husband, Ben sometimes calls her a shark because sharks always have to be in motion. Ben is content to sit and relax, but Melissa likes to be constantly moving towards a goal.