What Makes Melissa McCarthy One Of 'Time's 100 Most Influential People Is Very Obvious
Those who watched Gilmore Girls already knew Melissa McCarthy was funny, but the rest of the world seemed to finally catch on after 2011's Bridesmaids. Even the director of that movie, Paul Feig, says it was her Bridesmaids audition that marked his introduction to McCarthy and her unique brand of humor. "She came in toward the end of the casting process, and at first I couldn’t even tell if what she was doing was funny because it was so different from what any other actor had done," Feig wrote for Time. "But within about 15 seconds, I found myself laughing hysterically while marveling at the inventiveness I was witnessing." That's the thing about McCarthy, her humor is filled with heart. We care for these characters and can see that she does too. McCarthy's ability to do all of this is what earned her a spot on this year's Time's 100 Most Influential People list, but, more importantly, it's what's made her the most influential comedian of the past five years.
In that time, McCarthy has done things no male or female comedian has done: consistently star in high-grossing comedies. At this point, McCarthy's been given free reign to make the movies she wants from The Heat to Tammy to Spy to her latest movie, The Boss, because she's reached a level in her career where people just want to see her be funny. Her latest rated R comedy, The Boss, which was released earlier this month, and has already raked in nearly $42 million. Her secret to making films that people actually want to go out and see? Feig says, "She finds reality and heart inside every character she plays, and she never sacrifices three-dimensionality for a laugh. She embraces her characters’ flaws and strengths and plays them as equally important. She finds the humanity in every role she takes on."
McCarthy's ability to find compassion in these outcasts who often dress sort of funny and come off kind of nerdy is why she's finding fans at the box office. Her style is unconventional because it defies what we've come to expect, especially from women in comedy. She doesn't look like a lot of women in film right now, and she's not trying to look like that. Instead she's coming up with characters that break the mold, just as she has. For fans, it doesn't seem to matter who these characters are, all that matters is McCarthy is playing them.
After Bridesmaids, McCarthy could have played Megan again and again, but, instead, she worked hard to be more. She's a comedian who can take on serious roles in films like St. Vincent, where she plays a single mom. She kept her day job on the CBS comedy, Mike and Molly, and did movies on the side. She's a star who doesn't mind being a supporting player in The Hangover Part III or This Is 40. Her characters don't have an ego because clearly she doesn't have one. She's an artist, just as Time declares with their latest list, who is always looking for the next funny thing, and, in the process of doing that, changed the way we see comedy.
In Feig's opinion, it's not her box office numbers that make her influential, it's her ability to find so much in each one of her characters, making it look much easier than it really is. "To make people laugh while doing all this is like juggling an entire set of expensive china and never breaking a piece," Feig wrote in Time. "Long may she keep our china intact."
McCarthy may not be breaking any china, but she's certainly breaking boundaries for women in comedy, and in the best way possible. Being a woman, in her case, doesn't really seem to be the reason we talk about her. We instead talk about McCarthy's ability to make us laugh every time with her singular choices. That's what makes her the influential star she is.
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