In Melissa McCarthy‘s new comedy Tammy, which she wrote with her husband Ben Falcone, who also directed it, the actress portrays Tammy Banks, a dysfunctional individual who desperately wants out of her small-town existence. With no money or transportation, the only way out is to partner with her alcoholic grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon), on a road trip that neither will forget.
Melissa and Susan spoke about working together at the press day for the movie which opens on Wednesday July 2nd, 2014.
How did this movie Tammy come about?
Melissa: Ben and I had always talked about writing a movie about real people who mess up and have to decide if they are going to keep making mistakes or change things.
Since Ben has been directing theatre and comedy videos for years, we felt it was a natural progression for him to direct Tammy.
Can you talk about how Melissa approach you about doing the movie and how you got your look?
Susan: Ben and Melissa called me and prepared me for the script, which I thought was really fun. I was so excited by the way they worked. I was a little worried because there wasn’t much time between the other film I was doing, so I did three in a row … all alcoholic, pill-popping characters.
It’s very liberating to look that bad. We just accentuated everything you normally would hide. We texted pictures of possible looks and figured out the age thing, and she wasn’t much older than I actually am. She just doesn’t have my makeup and hair people.
Melissa: The first meeting on the phone, one of the first questions Susan asked was, ‘Are you seeing a little old granny with glasses and an up-do bun?’ And we were like, ‘Oh god no, she’s got raging problems with alcohol and she sleeps around.’ And she was like, ‘Okay, we’ll be fine, we’re in the real realm here.’
What was it like working together?
Melissa: Susan is cool. She came in with no judgment of Pearl and her wild past. She said, ‘It is what it is.’ and I think that approach is what makes Pearl so interesting, vibrant and sexy.
Susan: Melissa commits so completely. She’s great with silly physical humor but she doesn’t patronize her characters. You recognize some of your own frailties in the mistakes that Tammy makes.
I loved the Lenore (Kathy Bates)/Suzanne (Sandra Oh) relationship, as the lesbian aspect was a non-issue. Can you talk about writing that relationship and going to Kathy with that part?
Melissa: I think we wanted to have somebody in their lives that was the goal. They’re in a great relationship. They felt like that great couple that you look at and think, ‘What’s that magic?,’ because they just feel right together. Lenore has made it out and become really successful.
We needed somebody to be the strong, successful one that also wasn’t coming down on anybody or making anybody feel guilty. I felt that was necessary to have in the film.