The stunning transformation of Melissa McCarthy

Oh, Melissa McCarthy. There's something special about an actress whose genuine belly laugh is recognizable from a mile away. She won our hearts as Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls, and she made us pee our pants laughing on Bridesmaids. At this point in her career, Melissa McCarthy is a household name, but she's also one of the few A-list actresses who seem so humble and down-to-earth that we genuinely think we could be friends with her. 

Melissa McCarthy is one of those celebrities everyone roots for. We want her to succeed because she seems like a such a nice person! Not just that, but her subtle (and not-so-subtle) wit has us rolling on the floor. Whether you're a fan of her work or not, there's no doubt this stunning actress is making waves and taking names, and she'll be in the Hollywood spotlight for many years to come. Though she's remained true blue since she emerged in Hollywood, she's also evolved in both her professional and personal lives. Here's the stunning transformation of Melissa McCarthy.

The early days

While McCarthy grew up on a farm in southern Illinois, she began her career as a standup comedian in New York City, performing at well-known clubs, like Stand Up New York and The Improv, before moving to Los Angeles where she still lives today.

Upon her move west, McCarthy joined a comedy group, The Groundlings, where she trained with future SNL legends Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, and learned some tough lessons as an actor. "Crazy's just crazy and there's nowhere to go. You can have a point of view, it can be very strange, but we have to know your reasoning," she told The New York Times when referring to her training and diving into the difference between characters who are just crazy and those who are more eccentric.

Playing Sookie St. James

One of the first roles many of us would recognize McCarthy for is playing Sookie St. James, the fun and eccentric chef, and best friend of Lorelai Gilmore, on the popular series Gilmore Girls. McCarthy even made a return to her role of Sookie in the Gilmore Girls revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Speaking to E! News, she said, "I get so sentimental to be back on those sets and to see everybody. It was amazing how we just all fell back into it."

Appearing in Mike and Molly

After Gilmore Girls came to a close, she went on to star in the comedy Mike & Molly, where she received an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. McCarthy told Entertainment Tonight of the characters on the show, "I liked that they had real jobs. He wasn't a cop by day and a superhero by night — which I love those too but I liked that I was like, 'I know these people.' I've got cops in my family. I just bought it all. It just all seemed easy." After six seasons on air, the series came to and end in spring 2016.

Becoming a bonafide movie star

Bridesmaids wasn't Melissa McCarthy's first film appearance by a long shot, but it was definitely the first time she truly stole the show — and became a breakout movie star. She even garnered an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress, though she was bested by Octavia Spencer. Still, that opened up an entirely new set of doors for her, and she began her ascent to mega-stardom.

Since then, she's appeared in a number of films: She played Maggie in St. Vincent, Diana in Identity Thief, Susan Cooper in Spy, Michelle Darnell in The Boss, Abby Yates in Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, Deanna in Life of the Party, and Detective Connie Edwards in The Happytime Murders.

Will McCarthy ever be a contender for another Oscar? Signs point to yes, as she generated some Oscar buzz for her work in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, according to USA Today. McCarthy is quick to say that the film's success was a team effort, and the buzz was the "cherry on top." 

Needless to say, we'll be keeping an eye out on McCarthy's film career!

Starting her own clothing line

Growing up, McCarthy was obsessed with fashion. "All through high school I was very tunnel vision on, 'I want to make women's clothing,'" McCarthy told Forbes. After attending Southern Illinois University for two years, she transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, though she quickly dropped out to pursue a career in stand-up comedy.

While it is safe to say she has reaped the rewards of that decision, McCarthy is finding her way back into the fashion world through the release of her own women's clothing line Seven7, launched in 2015. The most important part of her line is that the pieces come in every size. "I've fluctuated, I've been every size in the rainbow, but when I got to a certain size I couldn't find the clothes that still made me feel modern," McCarthy told Forbes. So, she made sure her line would fit women of all sizes, ranging from size 4 to 28. "I think you should dress exactly how you want to dress — then you always look your best."

Discussing body image and her size

"In my 20s I used to cry about why I wasn't thinner or prettier, but I want to add that I also used to cry about things like: 'I wish my hair would grow faster. I wish I had different shoes,'" she told People. "I was an idiot. ... It's a decade of tears."

What's even more amazing is her reaction to body shaming. When she was referred to as "tractor-sized Melissa McCarthy" in a review for Identity Thief in the Observer, McCarthy told The New York Times, "I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that's someone who's in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs."

She then told the Today show, "I know I am not the 'norm.' It never occurs to me in terms of being a role model, though, because I don't know any perfect women. If I, off the top of my head, name 20 of the most amazing women in my life, it's all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, jobs. I can only go off my reality."

#RelationshipGoals

"We have always been lucky that we have worked together for so long," McCarthy told Daily Mail Australia on her marriage to husband, actor, producer, and director Ben Falcone. The pair met in 1998 during a comedy writing class at Groundlings and have been married for over a decade. McCarthy told Us Weekly she "got hit with the lucky stick with Ben." He responded, "We got hit with the same lucky stick. From the very first time we spoke, we were on the same page. We love each other, respect each other and try not to sweat the small stuff. And we really make each other laugh."

The couple have worked on a few films together, including Tammy and The Boss, and, in an interview with The Guardian, McCarthy referred to Falcone as "the calmest, most reasonable, funniest man in the world."

Launching her own production company

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone also started their own production company together in 2013 called On the Day Productions. "We've been writing together for longer than we've been married," McCarthy and Falcone said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "To be able to produce our own work and other people's work that we are so passionate about is really a dream come true." One of the films produced by On the Day Productions was McCarthy's 2016 release The Boss.

Crying off the pounds

Though McCarthy didn't let the words of a hurtful journalist get to her, she did eventually lose a notable amount of weight. Though she certainly didn't do it because others' expectations. When her obvious weight loss was mentioned during an interview with Gayle King of CBS This Morning, she joked, "I'm just crying off the pounds."

When asked for more details, McCarthy said, "I feel amazing and I finally said, 'Oh, for God sakes, stop worrying about it' and it may be the best thing I've ever done. ... I think there's something to kind of loosening up and not being so nervous and rigid about it, that's bizarrely worked."

You can walk all over her

In 2015, McCarthy was honored with her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, while surrounded by her close friends and family, including her husband, Ellen DeGeneres, director Paul Feig, and additional loved ones and co-stars.

"It was a little overwhelming, I thought, 'Just try to stay in it so you remember it, don't get so overwhelmed,' because I'm like, I don't want to forget today, I don't want to forget my mom, my kids, anybody that I get to see here watch this happen. I want to remember every second of it," she said in an interview with CBS Los Angeles.

Her famous BFF

Prior to filming The Heat, Melissa McCarthy had never met co-star Sandra Bullock, but the two quickly became best friends. Director Paul Feig told Parade that the two were "inseparable." He added, "Normally after movies, those friendships go away. Theirs blossomed."

Not only did McCarthy and Bullock became fast friends, but their children did as well. "Louis was my Georgie's first friend her own age. And all three of our kids, my two kids and her boy, they still play together. They have a special relationship," McCarthy told E! News in 2013.

A loving mother and role model

With two girls at home, Vivian and Georgette, McCarthy is all about inspiring her daughters to be themselves, and to feel comfortable in their skin and with their bodies. As she told Redbook, "Give me your best punch in the face, and I'll take that punch, rather than have my kid feel bad about herself. ... There's an epidemic in our country of girls and women feeling bad about themselves based on what .5 percent of the human race looks like. It starts very young. My message is that as long as everybody's healthy, enjoy and embrace whatever body type you have."

Bending gender as Sean Spicer

How is it that Melissa McCarthy ended up playing former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live, giving us some of the best political comedy on television? It wasn't McCarthy's idea — rather, she got a call from Kent Sublette, one of the head writers on the show, asking if she was available. She accepted, though, at the time, she wondered how it was going to play out. "How am I going to do that?" she wondered in an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

But it didn't take long for her to get super into the part, which she did uncannily well. In fact, she nailed Spicer's demeanor so perfectly that she won the Emmy Award for best guest actress on a comedy series, as reported by The Washington Post.

Even Spicer himself couldn't be mad at McCarthy, as he found the whole thing amusing. "That was kind of funny," he admitted on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Indeed it was!

It's all paying off!

Although McCarthy has humble origins, unlike so many of her peers in the Hollywood elite, she's a long way from the farm now. In fact, McCarthy is now one of the highest-paid women in Tinseltown, according to Glamour magazine. And that's in an industry that favors both men and women who conform to nearly unattainable body standards. Get that money, girl!

But money didn't just fall out of the sky, showering McCarthy in Benjamins. "I've gotten lucky," she admitted. But she also added, "I've worked hard." And that hard work included getting her finances in order early on, after a bumpy start in New York. She also became a fierce negotiator, and she stood up for herself when she felt she was being low-balled. That's some fierceness right there.

McCarthy isn't getting too comfortable, despite her solid savings. "I always assume every job is my last," she revealed. "Twenty years of desperately trying to get a single job gets deep in your DNA." We're not worried about her though.

Heading back to the small screen

McCarthy got a chance to return to her roots in Nobodies, a comedy that premiered in 2017 on TV Land. The show was created by Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf, and Rachel Ramras who, like executive producers McCarthy and Falcone, were all fellow Groundlings alumni, as noted by the Los Angeles Times.

So what was the genesis of the show? It arose out of a failed movie pitch to McCarthy and her husband called Mr. First Lady, wherein McCarthy would play the president. And while she and Falcone passed on that idea, elements of that pitch made it into the comedy that did get the green light. Nobodies features Davidson, Dorf, and Ramras essentially playing themselves, trying to get their Mr. First Lady script to McCarthy and Falcone. Along the way, multiple high jinks and antics ensue as the trio strives for fame and recognition.

Despite the show's promise, TV Land canceled it after its second season, as reported by Deadline.

Pushing for parity

Being a woman in Hollywood isn't easy — and that's something that's become more and more amplified in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp. To that end, McCarthy is using her powers for good. She teamed up with Walmart to make a short film that promotes equality and inclusion. The commercial, which premiered during the 2018 Oscars, was produced in partnership with Women In Film, an organization dedicated to leveling the playing field in the film industry.

For McCarthy, doing this work is how real change begins. "When people start talking about changing the climate and become aware of something that's so systematic — that's a step in the right direction," she noted in an interview with Today Style. "That doesn't mean it's fixed. But you have to start somewhere." That you do.

McCarthy is optimistic about the future, too. "Realizing that the numbers are not OK, there's not enough diversity, as long as [we] keep shining the light, it's a very exciting time," she continued. Sounds pretty promising to us!

Where she sees herself at 70

When it comes to aging, McCarthy has a pretty healthy perspective about it — she just doesn't get bothered by getting older, according to AARP magazine. "The older you are, the more interesting you are as a character," she shared. "Yes, things may start to sag and shift, but the older you are, the wiser, the funnier, the smarter you are. You become more you." That is a seriously positive outlook!

She even has a sense of humor about it, as she is already plotting how she'll live out her golden years. "I always say, 'Once I hit 70, it's going to be all caftans and turbans and big wacky glasses,'" she continued. That reflects her brand of humor and acceptance, for sure.

Aging can even be an opportunity, McCarthy said, which definitely flips the Hollywood script. "Getting older means knowing yourself, and if you know yourself, express it," she added. We hope we can be as graceful about aging too!

A little bit of joy goes a long way

From her clothing line for women of all shapes and sizes to her thriving acting career, it is safe to say Melissa McCarthy is just getting started. Even better, this self-proclaimed feminist is working hard to change the way we compare ourselves to others and is a true role model for girls and women of all ages. "The small happy moments add up. A little bit of joy goes a long way," she told Redbook.