Melissa McCarthy
Starring in: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Age: 48
Oscar past: 1 nomination, 0 wins
Role call: Burn-out writer Lee Israel stumbles into a new stream of income: forgery

“I love someone who’s unapologetic about who they are and how they behave. Even if it’s prickly, even if it’s uncomfortable,” Melissa McCarthy says of Lee Israel, the clever, curmudgeonly author-turned-forger, whom the comedy staple plays with curious empathy in Marielle Heller’s biographical dramedy Can You Ever Forgive Me?.

As against type as McCarthy went for the film, she loved exploring the complex soul under the grime — one who earned a living selling documents she wrote in the voices of Dorothy Parker and Noël Coward.

“There’s something about a prickly, grumbly person who has a soft, chewy center that fascinates me, and I want to pick away at it…. even if the bear bites back,” McCarthy explains. “[Lee] loved the work. Even after she got caught by the FBI, she still considered it some of her best work. I hope at the end, [audiences] really like her.”

In McCarthy’s hands, nothing has ever been easier.

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