Oscar winner Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) provided a bit of comedy relief during 20th Century Fox’s presentation at the 2013 CinemaCon. The two funny women who teamed up for The Heat – heading to theaters on June 28th – were on hand to get theater owners pumped up about the upcoming release. Taking the stage, McCarthy expressed her love for ‘cinnamon-con’, saying she’s always been a fan of cinnamon. After Bullock’s many attempts at explaining to ‘Melinda’ how CinemaCon (the largest gathering of motion picture theatre industry professionals) has absolutely nothing to do with the spice and McCarthy responding that Bullock should be embarrassed over her lack of knowledge of the event, the comedy duo expressed their love for each other. In fact, so close does McCarthy feel to Bullock that she revealed she watched Sandra sleep at night after spending days together on the set (of course that’s a joke!).
In addition to presenting clips from the film, award winning actress Sandra Bullock and McCarthy star down for an intimate press conference to chat about The Heat and female-driven comedies.
Melissa McCarthy & Sandra Bullock The Heat Interview:
How much of the interactions between the two of you were actually written in the script and how many were created on the spur of the moment? Do you believe comedy should be a living thing, something organic?
Melissa McCarthy: “It is a good question. I do think comedy needs to be a living thing, but I think without a great script and fully realized characters that you cannot keep it living. Otherwise, it just becomes long and rambling and indulgent, so I think you need both, frankly.”
Sandra Bullock: “I agree. If you’re going to tell a story from beginning to end, I think you always have to have a great structure and a script and Katie Dippold, our writer, wrote something that we both immediately got excited about. We could see the characters, and as Melissa says, once you realize
you’re starting to tweak in futz with a character you know you’re on to something. If it gets you excited and you’ve never read it before, that’s another plus. I think also with improv and that whole world of standup – that’s a whole other organism of comedy that still needs a story but it’s more free-form. So on the set it was the combination of both those worlds coming together: a great script and then allowance to play a little.”
Melissa McCarthy: “At least from how I’ve always worked and how we worked in this film, you improvise a little bit in a lot of places. You’re never veering off and taking the story off, and you can’t play crazy. You can have a strong point of view, but once you go crazy you’re not accountable for anything, so you really, you just kind of shake the line a little bit.”
Can you talk about the chemistry between the two of you?
Sandra Bullock: “As you can see the way that we look at each other, there’s a connection.”
Melissa McCarthy: “When we slow blink, we mean it.”
Sandra Bullock: “And it’s not because our false eyelashes are attaching themselves to the bottom. I’d say it’s the rare happening when actors get together and you have chemistry, connection, just something that works that’s bigger than what’s on the page. I think we, luckily, had it on both an acting level and a comedic level. Her style and my style are very different, but they always met in the middle and they were absolutely appropriate for what was needed to happen on screen.”
What has Bridesmaids led to and how important and valuable do you think it is having just fantastic comedies featuring women?
Melissa McCarthy: “I think it was just overdue. I think most of us in that movie had been such good friends for so long and that’s what we had been doing in a little theater on Melrose in Los Angeles forever. We didn’t think much of it. It’s just what made us laugh and then luckily Judd [Apatow] gave Kristin [Wiig] and Annie [Mumolo] an opportunity to write what they thought was funny. Then we had someone amazingly like Paul Feig directing it, and I think a lot of women related to it.
In The Heat, the first time Sandy and I spoke, we said, ‘This is so funny,’ but these women have to, as flawed and as socially inept as they are, they have to stay real, even push it as far as you can. They have to stay real and they’re police officers and they have to stay within that realm. If we can do that and push it as far as we can, we’re on to something. We had no interest in making two wacky cops that are bad at their job and they’re fighting over lipstick in the car. She’s a real federal agent and I was a real cop and we didn’t like each other. It’s been done before, but I think anytime you can do and stay within the realm of reality, people – I respond to it.”
Sandra Bullock: “I think also with what just came to mind is that Bridesmaids felt like it had absolutely no censorship. It didn’t say women only speak like this. Women should behave like this so let’s stay within the confines of what we know women do, and they blew that apart so you didn’t go, ‘Oh, a bunch of women experiencing…’ It was just these funny people having awkward life moments, and I think it takes the sex out of it. [Laughing] There’s no sex in our film, but it takes the gender out of it and it just replaces it. Everyone has awkward moments. Everyone’s struggling to do a good job and be recognized in their job and tries really hard, and when that doesn’t happen, it’s frustrating. Uncensoring women has, I think, led to more fun on screen. We curse. I talk like a truck driver. There are things they go, ‘Oh women don’t do that,’ and I’m like, ‘They f–king do. They do! F–king do it all the time!'”
Melissa McCarthy: “I always wonder what women do you know? Or when the crazy thing years ago was like women aren’t funny, I thought, ‘What cave do you live in?'”
Sandra Bullock: “We’re really not.”
Melissa McCarthy: “It’s true. She made a good point.”
Sandra Bullock: “It’s just effects and a lot of good music and a lot of wacky clothes.”
Melissa McCarthy: “I’m so busy brushing my hair I don’t know what I think.”
Do you have any plans to do a screening in Boston? [this interview was conducted prior to the official announcement of the screening]
Sandra Bullock: “We just heard today. Someone mentioned that Paul mentioned about a screening, and we fell so in love with our crew. I’ve shot there a couple times and have friends from Boston and there’s a tight-knit community that exists there. I don’t know why it is that way, but it has always been that way since I’ve gone there. It is profound to see the amount of help and chivalry and heroism that has happened in the last few days when the incident happened and the amount of people that ran into the fray to help people they didn’t know. Those are the people we met, we know.”
Melissa McCarthy: “It shows the best of what Boston is. There’s a warmth there and there’s a tight-knit community, and even when something as jarring as that happens I think they rally. I think that’s what we’re seeing. It’s inspiring. It’s unfortunate, but it’s inspiring.”
Did you receive any type of specific training for your police roles and did you perform any stunts on your own?
Sandra Bullock: “We did our own dancing, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Melissa McCarthy: “We did. That was all us.”
Sandra Bullock: “No practice whatsoever. That was a day of just pulling it out of your…”
Melissa McCarthy: “We’re like, ‘Let’s not rehearse anything! Let’s look just as terrible as we’re capable of.’ I trained and went to a shooting range with an officer from Boston and trained for a while and went over quite a bit of less about the firing because I wasn’t actually going to fire it, but the handling it. I wanted to make sure that I looked like a very confident police woman that handles a gun every day of her life and has for 15 some years. Sandy has a lot of experience in films and she was really good about in the beginning because until it becomes muscle memory of like, ‘Where’s your finger? How are you holding it? Which direction are you if I’m going left and she’s behind me?’ I learned so many just little intricacies of how you really handle weapons.”
Sandra Bullock: “The people in law enforcement have an instinct. With so much training and such respect for the firearms, you don’t instantly get that just because someone puts a gun in your hand on set. Everyone has a different style. They have a different type of weapon. The way that they handle it is completely different, but the nice thing was is that we were so respectful of the firearms on set. We didn’t take a gun until they showed us that the barrel was clear, that it didn’t have any bullets. We looked at every single bullet to make sure. I think sometimes you get can lax when you’re like, ‘Oh this is really cool. We’re making a movie.’
It’s a firearm. It’s a weapon and you have to respect and understand how it works. I don’t think anybody should put a weapon in their hand on a set unless you have some understanding of how dangerous this thing is and have fired it in a controlled situation and know the damage it can do. I think we had a really healthy respect for what was being given to us as a tool for a movie.”
Did you ever dream of being a cop?
Sandra Bullock: “I don’t have the gift. I think it requires an extraordinary human being to be in law enforcement or a fireman or a first responder of any kind. It is a gift.”
Melissa McCarthy: “It’s a calling, I think.”
Sandra Bullock: “I don’t have that gift. I will be the first to respond, but I don’t think I have those instincts. [To Melissa:] What do you think? She has family members.”
Melissa McCarthy: “I have a lot of police officers in Chicago, so I have a lot of law enforcement in my family so I was very aware to try to do everything right to make them not call me and say, ‘What are you doing?’ I have immense, immense respect for anyone that has as their chosen profession is to be of service to protect people.”
What was the funniest moment on the set?
Melissa McCarthy: “Oh my god, the funniest moment that’s a hard one. The dance, was that in 14 days?”
Sandra Bullock: “It felt like about 27 days. It was just one day.”
Melissa McCarthy: “It was so fun. It was so dumb. At one point we were just unglued. There’s something that happens because I think it just said, ‘They get drunk.'”
Sandra Bullock: “And they dance. They had a big dance.”
Melissa McCarthy: “There’s nothing else, and poor Paul said he turned around and we both had our faces taped and he was like ‘What’s happening?’ It just was kind of a weird dissent into controlled madness. It was really fun.”
Sandra Bullock: “Yeah, the things that you think you would find really funny when you’re reading it often become those things that aren’t on set, because you’re concentrating so hard to make it funny for the audience. When you think it’s funny and you’re laughing, you’re not making it funny for the audience. That same scene you were playing with my jacket and I had to lean in and we thought – and I don’t know how we came up with it – but I said, ‘Hey…’ She kept going, ‘Oh god,’ with my breath being really bad and we were laughing so hard because we just had to play that.”
Melissa McCarthy: “That was a lot of ruined tape.”
Sandra Bullock: “The tears, and it’s the stupidest things that we find funny and the crew doesn’t. We’re laughing and they’re like ‘Oh my God they’re wasting half a day with this stupid joke.’ I’m like, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. We’re trying to get it together.’ They’re just literally sitting there going, ‘You know we’re going to be here until midnight because you guys cannot pull it together.'”
Melissa McCarthy: “It’s very hard to concentrate when someone’s blowing in your mouth. You were going, ‘Hey.’ When I would turn around you were this/close, and it’s like that’s really hard to keep it together.”
Melissa, can you talk a little bit about how your experiences on this film and your other recent work may influence or have influenced your directing projects moving forward?
Melissa McCarthy: “I think I try to steal every good idea and smart technique that I’ve seen people use. I’ve gotten to watch Judd and Paul Feig and Seth Gordon. [To Sandra:] You – the smartest one of all. If I don’t say that, it’s a nightmare. You hope you learn a little bit on each thing and then also go in knowing you know nothing, just try to do the best that you can. Do as much prep work as you can.”
Can you talk about Paul Feig and what makes him such a great director of females and comedies?
Melissa McCarthy: “I think Paul loves women and he thinks they’re really funny, and it’s an awfully good place to start. He’s very smart and he’s very funny, all of those things. There’s nothing bad in any of those items, so you start from a very good place and he’s open and collaborative. I don’t know that you can have a better setup.”
Sandra Bullock: “I agree. He loves women and wants to tell stories that involve women without making them ‘women stories.’ They’re just a human being’s journey that happens to have [women].”
Sandra, has working with Melissa improved your improv skills?
Sandra Bullock: “I doubt they’ll ever be improved to the level that she is, but the nice thing is is that working in an environment where this one comes through the door and improvs the way that she does and you have a director who comes from that world, everyone he cast was from that world, pretty much. The world of comedy that I was familiar with was always very controlled. ‘These are the scripts and you have to go through 27 people at the studio before you could change a line,’ and I always wanted to do it, and I did in real life and I did it when I had sort of a free form, but I was never really allowed to experience what it was like. Walking on the set it took me a couple days to realize that I’m allowed to do it too. It was very liberating. Yeah, you can’t not be around a gift like that and not take it all in and want to improve your game. It is a muscle that you have to exercise. If you hadn’t had much time exercising it, it’s stale. Watching these people work and this one right here, it’s exciting and inspiring but daunting sometimes.”
Melissa McCarthy: “She also happens to be bizarrely good at it. Like a lot of people in the movie, we’ve done it for 15, 20 years. Of course Sandy would say, ‘I’ve never done this,’ and was great at it and we’re like ‘blaahtttttttttt.'”