Melissa McCarthy is opening up about the uglier side of being a female star in Hollywood.
The Can You Ever Forgive Me? actress, 48, recalled being labeled “grotesque” in a conversation for InStyle‘s February issue.
“Years ago, I was at a press conference for either The Heat or Tammy and somebody from a very big organization kept asking me, ‘Why do you always feel the need to be so grotesque?’” McCarthy said. “It was a huge interview with maybe 100 people in the room and he was sneering.”
The actress shared she kept her cool at the time, telling the journalist, “‘What are we talking about? I can’t answer your question because I don’t understand it.’ He goes, ‘You look sloppy, you’re not wearing any makeup, your hair is not done, you’re yelling at people.’”
“I was like, ‘OK, so have you ever asked this of a guy? I’m playing a character. You need to get out more if you don’t think there are real women like that,’” McCarthy explained. “He goes, ‘Oh, fine, I’m aggressive, call it whatever you want. If you don’t want to answer the questions, you shouldn’t come to the panel.’”
The star shared that at the time she wanted to tell him to “eff off” but refused to do so because the reporter would “win on every possible level.”
“I was like, ‘I really want to answer your questions. I’m sorry I didn’t wear makeup in a part. I’m sorry I didn’t look pleasant for you. But I also don’t think you should be here writing about movies,’” she said.
McCarthy recalled another moment in which she was criticized for her looks with a journalist asking, “Are you shocked that you actually work in this business at your tremendous size?”
“He was like, ‘Oh, your tremendous size, you can actually work?’” she said. “I just remember all the blood drained out of me. I thought, ‘With my tremendous size, I could tackle you so quickly.’ He was looking around like, ‘She’s crazy.’”
The Oscar-nominated actress was assured the reporter’s questions wouldn’t be aired but shared instances like those happen “all the time, to the point where it’s fascinating because they don’t do it to men.”
“Not to be a jerk or single him out, but when John Goodman was heavier, did anybody ever talk about his girth?”
McCarthy told PEOPLE in May 2018 she doesn’t let criticism get to her after experiencing her fair share of hate from online trolls after her 2016 film Ghostbusters.
“Weirdly, instead of getting mad at them, I always feel like, ‘Oh, I hope you meet someone soon that you can talk to, someone that really makes you laugh,’” she said. “I just root for that person to find a little joy.”
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She added, “I’m never going to change things by sitting in my living room bawling. That’s not going to fix or help anything. This has been a tough chunk of history for women. But at one point I just said, ‘I’m not going to wallow in this anymore.’ It’s not my reality—the men I know wouldn’t act like this. So I look to the men I know, who have made my life better, and I just keep remembering that they’re the norm.”
“It’s the same thing I tell my girls, ‘If somebody is being mean, they’re probably really not happy.” she shared. “If you’re having a great day, you don’t walk past someone and yell, ‘Freak!’ If you’re happy, you say, ‘I love your skirt!’”
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