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At TIFF: Melissa McCarthy on why different perspectives in films are important

By Armin S. Monday, Dec 17, 2018 01:34: PM

Melissa McCarthy, known for making us laugh in our seats, really made us sit up and take her seriously – as we always do. One of her best performances thus far happened in Can You Ever Forgive Me? in which she essayed the role of Leonore “Lee” Israel. Israel was an American author, who turned to literary forgery, in order to re-gain some success in her life. Can You Ever Forgive Me? is based on her life story. I had the opportunity to watch it at the Toronto International Film Festival – and boy, was it a treat.

 

Melissa, known for comedies, was up for the challenge with the dramatic role, saying, “[w]hile I’m not known for dramatic roles, I have done a fair bit of them. While I started in stand-up, for ten years after that, I did many dramatic roles.”

 

What attracted her to the script was the character and the story: “I was very attracted to the character and story. I mean, her real story was riveting to me. I loved how unapologetic and complicated and challenging and brilliant she was; and she was pulling off writing in the voice of some of the best writers we ever had, and she was doing it fantastically well. I just loved that. I think it is important to show women that are complicated and prickly and brilliant and unapologetic, that’s not something we get to see very often.”

 

Because there are really no videos available of Israel, we explored how she prepared for her character: Melissa said, “I think I have to go back to the source and working with the wardrobe designer, the makeup individual, going back to the writing, the people I met that knew her. There’s no video of her. I could only go off her writing – which was appropriate because that’s all she ever wanted to show. She wanted to show the writing. Whenever I felt a little lost, I would just read her work and take that with me.”

 

When I commented on the fact that I was blown away by the number of women who graced the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival for the film, and why it’s important to have female filmmakers and a director like Marielle Heller, Melissa agreed and noted, “I think every person, male or female, is different. Marielle (Heller) is very strong, very collaborative – beautiful storyteller. She really knows what she wants visually as a storyteller. What was so great is that we really saw the movie and the voice the same way. It is really important to make sure everyone involved is seeing the movie the same way.”

 

Expanding on the importance of different perspectives, Melissa said, “I think there is something to a female perspective – I think you always want the mix. It is important to have stories from all different kinds of people. We can’t just have the same stories from one perspective. It is not very interesting and it is not real. It does not reflect our own world back to us. So that is something that is really important to me. Marielle – is absolutely incredible.”

 

Melissa McCarthy, one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood, proves her mettle once again; this time in one of her most memorable roles.

 

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