She earned a best actress nomination at this year’s Oscars for her portrayal of author and literary forger Lee Israel

(Caution: This story reveals a plot point late in the movie.)

Melissa McCarthy delivered both hilarious and heartbreaking moments in her Oscar-nominated performance as author and literary forger Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me? But she considers one of the film’s more sentimental scenes her favorite.

“My favorite moment, which was the hardest moment, was our last scene,” the actress, 48, says in PEOPLE’s Oscar Portfolio in this week’s issue. “The lovely Richard E. Grant, when you know he’s dying of AIDS, that whole scene, when we kind of rekindle as best as we can what our friendship was, and he says, ‘Make me 29 and don’t make me stupid.’ And I’m probably ruining the quote, but I can never get through it.”

Grant, 61, also earned an Oscar nomination, for best supporting actor, for playing one of Israel’s partner in crime and one of her only friends. His quote refers to how his character wants to be portrayed in Israel’s memoir, on which the movie is based.

“He was so beautiful in that,” McCarthy says of Grant’s heartfelt performance. “That was the moment for me where I just thought, oh, he’s amazing.”

McCarthy also appreciates the work of her fellow best actress nominee, The Wife star Glenn Close.

“One of my favorite moments in the world is Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons, when she’s shamed at the end and people turn on her,” McCarthy reveals, referring to the 1989 drama also starring John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. “And you watch her in the movie completely flush red. There’s no CGI. It’s just her feeling it and her body reacting, and I literally remember being like, did everyone freak out? When that happened, and they got it on film, they must have just lost their minds. It still gives me chills to think about.”

McCarthy and Close, 71, are up against Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Olivia Colman (The Favourite) and Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born).

The 91st Academy Awards take place on Feb. 24 and air live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.


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