Interview: Paul Feig, director of Spy and Bridesmaids
Hollywood's comedy director of the moment talks to us about his leading lady and star of Spy, Melissa McCarthy
'She’s my partner in crime', says Paul Feig when asked about his flourishing working relationship with comedic genius Melissa McCarthy. Action comedy Spy marks the third time the pair have teamed up to re-write the rulebook when it comes to female driven narratives in Hollywood and they continue to challenge the status quo with Ghostbusters which is due for release in summer 2016.
Feig first encountered McCarthy when she auditioned for the groundbreaking gross-out comedy Bridesmaids, written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. She 'destroyed' the audition and it was only then he was informed she was the wife of one of his regular players, Ben Falcone, who he cast as her love interest in the film.
Feig came up against many detractors in Hollywood regarding female driven narratives. 'There's a million excuses they said why women can't star in movies,' he says, 'and I got tired of hearing that.' Thankfully after the critical and commercial success of Bridesmaids, it's a problem he doesn't really face anymore though it hasn't changed the business entirely. He says, 'Once Bridesmaids worked, studios have been very supportive with me. I just wish they would do it with other filmmakers.'
Feig applies his own progressive standards throughout his work. After Bridesmaids, he took on buddy cop flick, The Heat, casting McCarthy alongside Sandra Bullock. Katie Dippold who worked on Parks and Recreation was given the responsibly of writing the screenplay in which she absolutely nails the humour and complex dynamic of female bonding. On casting McCarthy, once again he says, 'She is just so funny and we are so in sync creatively. We have the same things we want out of a comedy, which is really funny with grounded characters who are real and emotionally three dimensional.'
Feig continues to speak about McCarthy with an endearing excitement. He says of her casting in Spy, 'The last two movies we've done have been very brash right out of the gate and the Melissa I know is very sweet and really funny. I wanted to show that side of Melissa's character.'
Feig describes the essence of Spy as 'a story of a person who nobody would think would be able to do this job. I like the idea of people who I think are undervalued because I think that's how so many of us feel at so many moments in our life.' It's a philosophy he has so enterprisingly put into action through his films in an industry where women are not only seriously undervalued but placed under ridiculously high standards compared to their male counterparts.
Spy is on general release from Fri 5 Jun.