Oscar®-nominated actress Melissa McCarthy starred in the smash-hit comedy “Bridesmaids” as Megan, the confident sister of the groom, opposite Kristen Wiig. The film was directed by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow. For her role in the film, McCarthy was nominated for a BAFTA, a Critics’ Choice Movie Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She won a 2012 MTV Movie Award for Comedic Performance of the Year. Last year, McCarthy won an Emmy Award, and she recently received her second Emmy nomination for starring as Molly on the top-rated CBS comedy “Mike & Molly,” which is currently airing in its second season. She also received a nomination for guest-hosting Saturday Night Live. McCarthy was last seen in Universal Pictures’ This Is 40, for director Judd Apatow.
Now the 42 year-old plays Diana in the comedy “Identity Thief.” Her character steals the identity of Sandy Bigelow Patterson, played by Jason Bateman.
What appealed to you about this project?
I was excited to get a call from Jason Bateman and was looking forward to meeting him because I love the movies he has been involved with over the years. I thought we would get along and be friends, which is the goofy thing every fan thinks.
Apart from starring in IDENTITY THIEF, Jason Bateman also produced the movie, correct?
The truth is that once he said, “Let’s do it!” he really made everything happen very fast. Jason is a good producer. He’s also nice and smart. I could tell he really wanted to make the same kind of movie that I wanted to make.
What makes Jason a good producer?
Jason pays a lot of attention on set and actually watches what’s going on very carefully. For him, to have the title of producer is not just a name, which was nice to see.
Jason plays the straight-shooting family man that becomes the victim of your character, Diana, when she steals his identity and starts to spend his money. How do you see these opposing characters?
I see the two characters as two very opposite people with wildly different lives. Even though they are so different, they are also kind of stuck in their routine lives.
What do you think Jason Bateman brought to the role of Sandy Bigelow Patterson?
Sandy is a family man and a really good guy and Jason was just very funny as Sandy. It is really hard to play the kind and centered person that everyone can relate to and still be so funny.
How do you see your character, Diana?
Diana is a slightly crazy character who is really just lonely and running the same cycle over and over again because that is what she has always done.
Diana goes from someone we initially don’t like to a person the audience ends up warming up to. Can you expand further?
Yes, that character arc was the whole point of Diana’s journey. I didn’t want her to be that kind of one-dimensional thief that just doesn’t care. I thought it would be better if she was the kind of person who hadn’t even thought about what she was doing to people, then finally realized that she is destroying this nice man’s life and understand that her actions have consequences. To see how she confronts the fact that what she does really affects others is interesting because not a lot of comedies go there.
How do Sandy and Diana affect each other’s lives?
The interesting thing is that when Sandy and Diana get together they realize they are both living lives they weren’t expecting. That is the weird common bond they have that maybe allows them to become friends. In this way, they can both change. He can become more in control of his situation and my character can take some responsibility for what she is doing.
What can you say of director Seth Gordon?
When I first met Seth, he talked about how we were all going to get along well during the shoot. He made sure everyone was nice and nobody was crazy, which really paid off in the end.
Did you have a good time making this film?
Yes, we had such a good time! It wasn’t an easy movie to make because it was so physical, but Seth played a big part in making sure we enjoyed the shoot. The same goes for Jason, who knows how to keep a light tone on set.
IDENTITY THIEF is also a road movie. Do you enjoy road trips?
I really like road trips. I remember driving to California from New York and getting into some really remote places where I could hardly recognize the country I was in. I loved that experience and the variety of it.
Your character, Diana, is resilient, isn’t she?
I remember comparing Diana to a cockroach in regards to her resilience. Sometimes she is in pure survival mode and manages to get back up and walk away from dangerous situations.
Was it physically challenging to pay Diana at times?
Yes, it was very physically challenging! Both Jason and I had a lot of bruises and some bloody noses along the way, but it was really fun.
Which action sequences were the toughest to shoot?
I think the sequence in Diana’s house, when Jason comes and tries to put handcuffs on me, was the toughest to shoot because that house was in Atlanta and the air conditioner was broken. It was hard to focus and think, but we had to spend two or three days fighting.
Did you manage to develop a very effective throat punch?
I can say I have never before punched anyone else in the throat other than Jason Bateman. Now that I kind of have a taste for it, anything can happen! After all, he did hit me with a guitar, which was a fun improvised moment.
Do you enjoy improvising on set?
I love to improvise if I’m working off of a really well-structured script. I don’t like it when you have to find what isn’t there or fix it. I prefer when everything is already there and you can change something just to surprise people. Then, it becomes really fun.
Have you ever been the victim of identity theft?
Years ago, somebody managed to drain my entire checking account leaving me with nothing. I couldn’t even put gas in my car, pay my bills or get food! I remember being in a bank crying my eyes out and thinking, “I can’t leave without any money!” Somebody had been writing out checks in my name for three days.
Did you meet with any real identity thieves to prepare for this role?
A lot of research had already been done by all of the production team, and I preferred not to meet with identity thieves because I wanted to stick more to why she was doing what she was doing rather than how she was doing it.
What do you think it takes to do something like stealing someone’s identity?
Nowadays, you would have to be tech savvy to steal someone’s identity. I don’t think I could do it because I just have no ability with technology. I guess I would have to pickpocket, as I can barely work a computer.
To be released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp., “Identity Thief” is scheduled to open in theaters nationwide on May 1, 2013.