Comedy’s Funniest Couple

3 minute read

One morning in the late 2000s, actor Ben Falcone told his wife that he’d had an idea. “I want to write a movie where you take a road trip with your grandma,” he said. “And I think she’s an alcoholic.” His wife is Melissa McCarthy, and that idea eventually became Tammy (July 2), the first movie they’ve written and Falcone’s directorial debut.

McCarthy is the down-on-her-luck title character, Susan Sarandon is the grandmother, and there are other big names like Kathy Bates and Toni Collette. McCarthy and Falcone recently hopped on the phone–she from Budapest, where she’s shooting Spy with Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig; he from L.A.–to talk to TIME.

Tammy has an amazing cast of funny women, but the dearth of roles like that for actresses is a hot topic. What do you think of the new level of awareness?

Melissa Mccarthy: I don’t think it’s some newfound thing. Maybe there are, at this moment, more opportunities. The further we get from “everybody has to be perfect”–women have often been given that role of perfect and pleasant and never saying the wrong thing, and they have an interesting job and they magically have a great apartment, so they’re not given any tools.

Ben Falcone: I’m frankly surprised that there aren’t more movies featuring women in these flawed-main-character roles. There are so many actors and writers capable of delivering that.

Is that changing?

MM: It’s in the economic consciousness. That helps. I hope to keep adding to those opportunities. I grew up with funny and interesting women, and my friends are funny, interesting women, so I can’t think of any story where those women don’t come into play. It’s the same as how I can’t imagine writing a story with no men. It’s just not real.

BF: Whereas I’m working on just one-gender-specific movies … [McCarthy laughs] that Melissa is against.

MM: Gender to be determined. It’s a cyborg movie.

Wait, really?

BF: No.

MM: I wish that would end up in print.

BF: Like, “Are you writing a gender-specific or gender-neutral movie?” No.

But if you use Robots you don’t need genders.

BF: I would like an asexual robot movie.

MM: That’s your title: Asexual Robot Movie.

BF: I’ve gotta get to work on this outline! It’s writing itself!

Before you do: Have you had a day as bad as Tammy’s?

BF: Thankfully, I don’t think that I have. Have you, Mooch?

MM: I remember banging up my car, this old VW squareback, and there was a spring through the seat, and as I got out I also ripped the whole backside of my dress. I don’t know if I needed that on top of almost totaling my car.

Oy. Thanks for sharing.

MM: Nice chatting with you–and bye, honey. I’ll call you later.

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