The Evolution of Melissa McCarthy

A green-tinted segment from the poster for The Kitchen (2019), featuring Melissa McCarthy

Starting off being typecast as quirky sidekicks and transforming into a lead, dramatic roles, Melissa McCarthy has quickly become a household Hollywood name. After working as a stand-up comedian in New York City, she moved to Los Angeles where she joined the legendary comedy troupe “The Groundlings.” McCarthy was quickly given her breakthrough role as Sookie St. James on the series Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) and later started her run on the sitcom Mike & Molly (2010-2016), for which she won an Emmy®, and further in her career, she earned an Academy Award® nomination for her performance in Bridesmaids (2011).

As a rising Hollywood star, McCarthy has begun heading other comedy movies like The Heat (2013), Tammy (2014), St. Vincent (2014) and Spy (2015), and in flexing her more dramatic muscle, she earned another Oscar® nomination for her lead role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) With the release of this year’s latest crime-drama The Kitchen, McCarthy stars alongside Elisabeth Moss and another comedy veteran Tiffany Haddish in a high stakes takeover of a mafia-run New York City neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen. With such a drastic change to her roles, we take a look at the evolution of Melissa McCarthy’s career.



Melissa McCarthy-Gilmore Girls
Sookie St. James (Melissa McCarthy) in Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)

In 2000 McCarthy landed a breakthrough role on the popular Warner Bros. show Gilmore Girls as Sookie St. James, a chef and best friend to lead character Lorelai Gilmore (played by Lauren Graham). St. James provided the show with a fun character that wasn’t shy of McCarthy’s signature clumsy charm. McCarthy became a key part of the beloved television series, and Graham enjoyed a close friendship with McCarthy off set. Gilmore Girls ran until 2007, when McCarthy then moved on to a role alongside Ryan Reynolds on The Nines.

Additionally, from 2007 until 2009, McCarthy played the socially awkward best friend to Christina Applegate’s titular character in the comedy series Samantha Who? Beginning in 2010, McCarthy played the fourth-grade teacher Molly alongside actor Billy Gardell on the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, a role that landed her first Emmy® for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. 



The Heat-McCarthy and Bullock
(left to right) Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) and Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) in The Heat (2013)

In 2011 McCarthy starred in the comedy hit and commercially successful Bridesmaids alongside former Groundlings stagemate, Kristen Wiig. In the Paul Feig-directed movie, McCarthy stole the show as Megan, the assertive and uncomfortably open and crass sister of the groom. McCarthy was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actress as well a Critics' Choice Movie Award and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. Since Bridesmaids, McCarthy has landed roles in movies like This Is 40 (2012), and Identity Thief (2013), co-starring the hilarious Jason Bateman.

McCarthy continued to show her strong appeal at the box office, co-starring with Sandra Bullock in the (unlikely) buddy comedy and summer blockbuster, The Heat (2013). McCarthy plays hot-tempered, Boston detective Shannon Mullins who teams up with FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, played by Bullock. Sparks fly on screen when this mismatched duo have to work together to capture a drug lord in this movie that was also directed by Feig, which brought in almost $40 million in its first weekend domestically and grossed around $230 million internationally.



In 2018 McCarthy starred in the comedy Life of the Party, which was directed by her husband, Ben Falcone, and the dark comedy thriller The Happytime Murders, co-starring Maya Rudolph, Elizabeth Banks and Joel McHale. However, it was her role in that year's Oscar®-nominated movie Can You Ever Forgive Me? that captured the attention of movie critics and fans alike. Based on Lee Israel's 2008 memoir, the movie features McCarthy as a struggling writer who makes her break by forging letters from deceased literary icons, leading to Golden Globe® and Academy Award® nominations.

The Kitchen-main characters
(left to right) Ruby O'Carroll (Tiffany Haddish), Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy), and Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss) in The Kitchen (2019)

Now, finally see McCarthy in the highly anticipated role in The Kitchen, a story about mob wives—Kathy, Ruby and Claire—who take business into their own hands when their husbands are imprisoned. In her role as Kathy, McCarthy proves that she can deliver a punch by taking up a dramatic role without failing to bring in some of her iconic humor and comedic delivery. 

Can you handle the heat? Find out for yourself when you step right into Hell’s Kitchen for another McCarthy classic role in The Kitchen, now playing at Regal.

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