Interview: Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock of 'The Heat'
Shoving, shooting and making it up as you go along
Meeting the press, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have all the easy interplay the two show on-screen playing a straightlaced FBI agent and a frantic Boston cop in Paul Feig's "The Heat." We spoke with Bullock and McCarthy in New York about speedy shooting, physicality, going for broke, frightening people with fake FBI gear and being imperfect.
MSN Movies: First of all, at the first table read did you have a sense of the chemistry and craziness that was coming out of pairing the two of you?
Sandra Bullock: I love that he thought there was a table read.
Melissa McCarthy: I know. If only.
That's naïve on my part?
Bullock: In this case, we had two weeks from the first time we spoke on the phone until the time sat down for a rehearsal. A script reading?
McCarthy: No prep time, no nothing. Are you in or you out?
And that was the jump?
You really had no...
Bullock: Nothing. And Paul said, "Why don't you improvise this scene." (Laughs) We went, "Okay."
McCarthy: And we showed up, sat down, I mean it was really the first time we were meeting.
McCarthy: I mean yeah it was. And he just, and he just literally the first thing out of the gate. We didn’t read anything. He just said, "You want to improvise?" We were like, "Now? Just like that? I'm sleepy." (Laughs)
McCarthy: "I would like some coffee before you shove me into this world."
(Laughs) There's a great moment where you're both trying to go through the same door at the same time, and it becomes crazy ugly and all the physicality of the Stanley Cup hockey game in like 30 seconds.
Bullock: But in silence.
Bullock: Did you notice the silence?
Yes. Just this horrible, begrudging fight.
Bullock: Yes, yes.
McCarthy: Which is ... we were not faking that.
Bullock: No, that was all...
McCarthy: If I could have taken you fully down I would’ve. She's very strong.
McCarthy: Surprisingly strong.
Bullock: But when you find that you're physically matched with someone in terms of timing but all the physicality of comedy there's nothing greater, and your body's knowing exactly when to push and to pull. And you know, we would've done it to the point of almost injuring ourselves, but we knew when to abort the mission when it got too dangerous.
McCarthy: (Laughs) Yeah.
Bullock: But that was a scary moment.
McCarthy: The other side of that if they ever would've shot our faces would have blown it 'cause we're laughing so hard.
And you get the kind of bruises you can wear as badges of honor.
McCarthy: Many bruises.
Miss Bullock, this is at least the third time you've played an FBI agent.
Bullock: Second. Well if you include sequels then...
If you include sequels, which we certainly do in the box office total.
Bullock: Not when they're mine. Anyway... (Laughs)
But, more importantly...
Do you occasionally to unwind make citizen's arrests or look into interstate crime?
Bullock: I feel like when you have an unauthorized police badge and something that looks like it could be a concealed weapon in the small of your back that when you, someone crosses you, pisses you off, road rage, I think just the slight badge and the little moving away of the jacket and not losing eye contact does amazing things. You just go like this. You move it. You're like, "I'm one of these." I don’t need to say anything. It's just the mere action of tinning them, which is slang.
Flashing the badge.
Bullock: Tin them and then you show a little...
McCarthy: Tinning them.
Bullock: ...concealed weapon. That pretty much takes care of no words or no altercation whatsoever.
And I'm extraordinarily frightened to even break eye contact with you.
Bullock: As you should be.
As I clearly should be.
As a final question, there was a great piece recently by Carina Chocano that said that people always say we need more strong female characters. And her argument was that we need more imperfect female characters.
Human female characters.
Mullins and Ashburn, your character can't swear, your character can't fit in with her squalling family. Were those imperfections part of making a great, real character even in the comedy?
McCarthy: Totally. I think it's everything. I think it's, I mean I've said it before, but I think, I mean I've really said it before, but...
Bullock: Well say it again.
McCarthy: I'm going to say it again. I think when you take away all of the character's tools where they have no flaws, they have no imperfections, they don't need anything, they want for anything, they have no real opinions, now go be funny or be interesting. And it's like (looks lost, shrugs)
Bullock: There weren't roles for females in comedies for a really long time.
McCarthy: 'Cause you're supposed to be perfect and happy, and it's just so boring. It's not about being, it's not about being strong.
Bullock: It doesn't exist.
McCarthy: It's interesting and flawed. 'Cause my favorite thing is to watch someone fall just as hard as they can and then you like that character enough that you root for them to get back up or to solve their problem. That's why I love movies.
Bullock: Failing is what we do, or stumbling is what we do on a daily basis. If you don't see it on film, you know it's like I don’t know, I don’t know where else you're going to see it. You know, 'cause we've got to be able to show it. We're all incredibly flawed. Her a little more than me. But I do have a few.
McCarthy: (Mock-shocked, fake-whispering) What? This is such bulls**t.
Bullock: That is bulls**t because I'm far more flawed than this one right here. But it is true, you know.
McCarthy: It's a little true.
Bullock: It's a little true, yeah.
For more on "The Heat," watch our video interview with the cast.