If you’re into popular films and quirky comedies, then there’s a very good chance that you’ve seen one or two (or more) of Melissa McCarthy’s movies over the years. Have you seen The Heat? Yep, that was McCarthy alongside Sandra Bullock, per IMDb. Did you enjoy Spy? Well then, you might remember that you were watching McCarthy opposite Jude Law. Were you entertained by Can You Ever Forgive Me? If so, then you probably agree that McCarthy deserved an Academy Award nomination for her work in the film (which she did indeed get). Frankly, if you’re one of the star’s old-school fans, then you might even think back fondly on when she played Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls.
If it’s not clear from McCarthy’s many impressive credits and watch-worthy roles, she definitely has what it takes to enjoy a long and successful career in Hollywood. However, it turns out that there’s much more to the star than just her comedic savviness and fame-sparking skills. For instance, how much do you know about who she was before she was a star? Could you list the various ways that she’s kicked career-related a** in unexpected manners? Basically, do you think you could win a trivia contest that focuses on this particular famous figure? Well, that’s where we come in.
Even if you think that you’re a Melissa McCarthy expert, keep reading to find out just how much you really know about this captivating star.
Melissa McCarthy grew up on a farm
Melissa McCarthy grew up in Plainfield, Ill. with her older sister, parents, and grandmother, where they lived on a corn and soybean farm, according to AARP. McCarthy recalled one of the upsides of living in the country being the vast amount of kittens that would miraculously show up on the front porch from time to time. “On a farm it’s great. They live outside. You don’t have mice. And when someone comes to your house for the first time, 25 to 30 cats run toward the car like in a horror movie,” she explained.
While McCarthy may have been a farm girl, she was also a creative kid living in small-town Illinois, and because of that, took some liberties with her fashion as she grew up. Like a lot of teens, she went through various stages during high school, which ranged from a tennis-playing cheerleader who was a member of the student council to someone who later morphed into a wearing-turtlenecks-as-pants kind of goth. “I put my legs through the sleeves. I would put in safety pins and let [the neck] hang … My mom loved it — and so did the nuns,” she told Anderson Cooper.
The dramatic style switch did not go unnoticed by her peers and even earned her a sweet little shout-out in her high school yearbook that read, “Changed the most in 4 years; Most Punk: Missy McCarthy.” That’s right, McCarthy was considered to be the most punk student at her school. Let that sink in.
The actor's mom supported her career choice
Having your child come to you and say they want to have a go at acting isn’t necessarily easy for some people, but Melissa McCarthy’s mother, Sandy, took the news in stride. She told AARP, “We just said, ‘If she doesn’t want to go to college, OK. Let’s let her give this new thing a try.'” Melissa noted in the same interview, “She gave me the freedom to do what I needed, even if she didn’t understand it.”
Sandy was always just a phone call away while her daughter worked her way up from the bottom in her early pursuit of a career in acting. Most of those phone calls may have had to do with needing money for rent, but Sandy, reminiscing with her daughter about the early years in the industry, told her daughter (via AARP), “As long as you had a place to live and a bank for depositing a check, I knew you were trying. You always knew who you were, and I knew you’d be fine.”
Even to this day, the mother and daughter duo are as close as ever, literally. McCarthy’s parents have sometimes made extended stays in Los Angeles, where they cozy up in McCarthy’s old home, according to AARP. Also, in 2017, when she was asked to guest host the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show, she wheeled her parents on the stage in recliner chairs and had them play a game of “Who Loves Their Daughter More?” Sandy took the prize.
Both Melissa McCarthy's cousin and best friend are also famous
Celebrity besties are not that uncommon — if you’re in the limelight and have worked on a bunch of projects, then you’re bound to meet up with like-minded people (who may happen to be celebrities) along the way. Think of the bond that formed between Maisie Williams and Sophia Turner while working on the set of Game of Thrones, or Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak, who struck up a close friendship while shooting The Office. But in the case of Melissa McCarthy, one of her celebrity connections stretches way back to before she was famous.
Melissa and Jenny McCarthy (actor, writer, and former Playboy Playmate) share more than just the same last name, they’re actually cousins, according to USA Today. In fact, it was on The Jenny McCarthy Show, which ran for 24 episodes in 1997, where older cousin Melissa made her acting debut.
On top of that, Melissa has been best friends with Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer for over 25 years. According to People, “In the 1990s, McCarthy and future husband Ben Falcone performed with the L.A. comedy troupe The Groundlings, and Spencer regularly caught their act.” The three have been besties ever since, and in 2021, they teamed up to film the superhero comedy, Thunder Force, which must have been an awesome opportunity and oh-so-much fun for these famous friends.
The performer started out by making people laugh
In 1990, a 20-year-old Melissa McCarthy bought a one-way ticket to New York City, where she shared a tiny apartment with her hometown best friend, Brian Atwood (yeah, the famous shoe designer), according to Rolling Stone. It was Atwood who convinced McCarthy to try her hand at stand-up. “I was thinking, ‘How hard could it be?'” she told the outlet. “It was me there with my lovely gay guy friends and I was dressed like a big old drag queen. I went by Miss Y.” Atwood recalled the early days of her performances, saying, “When she did her comedy, she brought the house down. I had goosebumps the whole time, and I knew she was where she was supposed to be.”
When McCarthy was 27, she made the move to Los Angeles en route to the famous The Groundlings Theatre & School, where other notable comedic actors like Maya Rudolph and Will Ferrell got their start. It was there that she honed the craft of improv comedy and created some rather interesting characters. “It changed my life,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “It taught me to write and how to do a character rather than just play crazy.”
It was also through The Groundlings that McCarthy connected with fellow funny ladies Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who both attended the improv school. They also became the future writers of the belly-buster comedy Bridesmaids, which helped launch McCarthy into comedic stardom.
Melissa McCarthy appeared and worked on The Weird Al Show
Everyone has to start somewhere and pay their dues. For Melissa McCarthy, her journey to stardom took a stop in the delightfully deranged world of “Weird Al” Yankovic. Early in her career, McCarthy made an appearance on The Weird Al Show, which ran for one season in 1997. The show starred Yankovic (obviously), but also featured appearances from guest celebrities, like actor Fred Willard, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, and funnyman Patton Oswalt, as well as contortionist and unusual character performer Doug Jones.
McCarthy, who also worked as a production coordinator on the show for two episodes, according to IMDb, showed up on screen in a segment called “Ask Al,” which involved her asking the wavy-hair comedian the burning question that everyone surely wanted to know: “Hi Al, why did you get rid of the glasses and the mustache?” It might be a far cry from the future endeavors that would ultimately land her multiple awards, but (*shrug*) a gig is a gig.
The star's five SNL gigs earned her five Emmy nominations
Melissa McCarthy has brought her out-there and super popular style of comedy to the legendary Saturday Night Live stage not once, not twice, but five times, as of this writing. She was a guest host on SNL in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017, and earned herself an Emmy Award nomination for outstanding guest in a comedy series for each of those years, even nabbing herself a win in 2017, according to IMDb.
During McCarthy’s appearances on SNL, she has played many beloved (and sometimes cringe-worthy) characters, ranging from a game show contestant, Marcie Hill, who gets barraged with pies, to an aging Hollywood actor who is trying to stay relevant on a film panel. Trust us when we say they’re funnier than they sound.
But what many fans might consider McCarthy’s ultimate contribution to the Saturday Night Live stage might very well be her complete transformation into former President Trump Press Secretary Sean “Spicey” Spicer. Her impression was high energy, high stress, and hilarious as she would don a full business suit and complete the look with a receding hairline wig while chewing (and swallowing) gum. Her Emmy Award-winning performance apparently ruffled some of the real Spicer’s feathers at the time, to the point where he told Extra that McCarthy “could dial back.” Good luck with that.
Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig have worked together more than you may have realized
In the film and television industry, some directors have their “go-to” actors when it comes to casting for new projects. For instance, Quentin Tarantino has worked with Samuel L. Jackson on seven films, and Tim Burton has cast Helena Bonham Carter in eight of his movies, according to The Guardian. But in the world of comedy, magic happens when Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig team up.
Feig, who has directed episodes of Arrested Development and The Office, met McCarthy when she auditioned for the film, Bridesmaids. He told Forbes, “We just really have the same sense of humor. We have the same desire to make things that are funny but are still real and still play real, that aren’t cartoony and silly, and that aren’t mean to the characters or look down on the characters we’re portraying.”
The film was so successful, bringing in over $289 million in worldwide box office sales, according to The Numbers, that the two went on to make three more films together, this time with McCarthy in the lead role. What followed was a string of successful offbeat comedies including The Heat, Spy, and the all-female-led blockbuster, Ghostbusters. But what keeps the director coming back for more? “It’s not like we always go, ‘let’s do the next thing together,’ it’s always kind of ‘that was fun.’ Then they’ll develop the next thing, and it’s like, ‘you know who would be perfect for this would be Melissa,'” Feig told Looper in a 2020 interview.
The performer has her own clothing line
Even at a young age, Melissa McCarthy had a love of fashion. In fact, there was a time when working in the clothing industry was exactly what she wanted to do. “Since grade school, I focused on women’s clothing. My grandma was a seamstress, and I kept scrapbooks of designers,” she told Elle. “When I went to college, I did clothing and textiles. It really wasn’t until I moved to New York, my second night in, I did stand-up.”
As McCarthy worked her way up the entertainment industry ladder, she decided to take matters into her own hands when it came to her style. “I was making a lot of my stuff or having them made on shows and different jobs,” she said. The star also recalled that women were asking her where she had found certain items. When she told them that she had made whatever they were asking about, “they’d always seem kind of disappointed,” surely because that meant they couldn’t buy one for themselves.
Fast forward to 2015, and finding a need and a demand from plus-sized individuals around the country for jeans that are comfortable, McCarthy started her own clothing line called Melissa McCarthy Seven7, per People. “I spent a decade not owning jeans. I’d buy stacks of them but none were ever right. I believe you should be able to sit comfortably in your pants,” she explained. If you’re interested, her fashion line can be found at big retail stores like Walmart and Nordstrom.
Have you spotted Melissa McCarthy's husband in her films?
Melissa McCarthy met her husband, actor and director Ben Falcone, in 1998, when the pair formed a special bond performing and writing together at The Groundlings Theatre & School, according to Women’s Health. While on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, McCarthy recalled the story of their first meeting, saying, “I immediately was like, ‘Oh, he’s strange. I like him.’ And we were friends from, like, day one.”
Since then, the two have been inseparable, both as a loving couple and in their work on film and television. The first onscreen credited roles that McCarthy and Falcone have together are from a short film called Chicken Party, as well as an episode of Gilmore Girls called “Say Goodnight, Gracie.” You can also catch Falcone in little roles in many McCarthy films, like Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, The Heat, Tammy, Spy, The Boss, and Life of the Party. That’s not to mention his appearances in The Happytime Murders, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Superintelligence, and Thunder Force. He has also directed her in Tammy, The Boss, Life of the Party, Superintelligence, and again Thunder Force.
But do they actually like working together or is it just a ruse to get us to love them more? McCarthy told E!, “It’s ridiculous. It’s like you get to go to work with your best friend. And it’s exactly how we met, and we became such good friends because we loved doing this together.”
The actor owns her own production company
Melissa McCarthy has been taking Hollywood by storm, and she’s been doing so for a while now. Just take a look at her IMDb page and you’ll see that she’s starred in some major blockbusters over the years. With that kind of career leverage, McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, started a production company in 2013 in order to make the movies that they wanted exactly how they want to.
McCarthy and Falcone join other notable celebrities who have their own production companies, like Reese Witherspoon, who is the force behind Hello Sunshine, and Viola Davis, who runs JuVee Productions. As for this pair, they named their company On the Day — which, according to WSJ Magazine, was inspired by “her Mike & Molly co-star, Billy Gardell, [who] describes McCarthy’s frequent promise to go all out on the day of filming. ‘On the day, I’ll do it right,’ she often says. ‘On the day, it’ll be there.'”
The couple are clearly excited about what they can accomplish with One the Day, and told The Hollywood Reporter, “We’ve been writing together for longer than we’ve been married. To be able to produce our own work and other people’s work that we are so passionate about is really a dream come true.” With that kind of enthusiasm to work with, On the Day has been responsible for the production of films like Tammy, The Boss, Life of the Party, The Happytime Murders, Superintelligence, and Thunder Force — and surely plenty of other future comedic hits.
Melissa McCarthy is worth megabucks
A multiple threat, Melissa McCarthy has so far in her career become an A-list actor, a fashion designer, and runs a successful production company. Her films have grossed some serious dough, such as “Identity Thief, The Heat, Spy, and Ghostbusters [which] brought in $174 million, $229.9 million, $235.7 million, and $229.1 million, respectively,” according to WSJ Magazine. On top of that, she has earned respect among the industry (and the ability to bank some serious funds) thanks to the Academy Award nominations she received for 2011’s Bridesmaids and 2018’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?.
In 2020, McCarthy reached number four on Forbes’ list of highest-paid actresses, which reported that she took in an impressive $25 million that year. She also hit number 22 on The New York Times’ “25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century (So Far)” list, which also included heavy-hitters in the entertainment industry, like Michael B. Jordan, Tilda Swinton, and Viola Davis, among others.
After all of her success, McCarthy stresses that no matter what, if you’re not getting what you deserve, then you just keep right on walking. “As you start up the ladder in whatever field you’re in, you have to walk if people won’t give you what you’re worth. Once people don’t respect you enough to give you what you’re worth, they’re never going to,” she told Glamour. The star certainly knows what she’s talking about, which is why she has a $90 million fortune, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
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