Melissa McCarthy talks stunt work for Spy, upcoming Ghostbusters reboot and her portrayal of Chris Farley

Spy comes out on Friday, and before it hits theaters, its star, the hilarious Melissa McCarthy, stopped by SiriusXM to chat with Howard Stern about the role and working with director Paul Feig.

“He is truly one of the smartest, greatest guys I know. It’s a person who loves their job,” she told Stern. “I’ve said this and I mean it – if he’s doing like shitty one acts in his backyard, I’ll be like, ‘I’m in!’ He’s really fun. He’s a happy person.”

McCarthy has worked with Feig not only on Spy but also on Bridesmaids, The Heat and the upcoming reboot of Ghostbusters.

Speaking of Feig’s plans for remaking the cult classic with an all-female cast — including Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and possibly Cecily Strong — McCarthy said their approach was to not imitate the original but rather make it something new.

“I think we all kind of love the original so much, it’s like, ‘Don’t try to redo it. You’re never gonna touch that.’ So it’s definitely more modern,” she said. “Paul has said that you know he really wants it to be a little scarier. He’s got a really great gut for that stuff. Anybody else, I’d be like, ‘Is this a good idea?’ It is [kind of scary], but not with him. I know he’ll make it right.”

McCarthy’s role in Spy required a fair amount of stunt work. She told Stern that although she had a stunt woman, she prefers to do as much as she can herself.

“I want to do everything that they will let me do with insurance, which is a lot, which was a little surprising,” she said. “I kept waiting for like tricks. I was like, ‘So how are we going to do this helicopter bit?’ And they’re like, ‘The helicopter bit is you hanging with [Jason] Statham from a helicopter.’ I was like, ‘I know, but are we actually like on the ground?’ They’re like, ‘No you’re about 60 feet up.’ And I was like, ‘What the …’

“You’re up 60 feet, hanging from a helicopter with Statham climbing me. I mean you’re on a safety thing, but still your hands go numb, the harness is doing very strange things to your body. At one point I was like choking on my own boobs. [If you’re going to get a realistic shot], it can’t be somebody else. Especially for that character, she’s not supposed to be perfect, and I know I can do that.

To prepare for her stunt work, McCarthy worked with a martial arts instructor in Los Angeles, who knew the choreography.

“There’s a pretty intense fight in the kitchen with this other woman, but that actress was in I think India and I was in LA, so you train with other people, and the big fight was the first day of shooting,” she explained. “I don’t know [why he did it that soon], but it was the smartest thing he did because doing it right away, if I would have had to wait five weeks in, I would have been nervous, the training would’ve kept on, we would have over thought it. But this way we both showed up from training for it. But it was still like, you put two people in a room and they are fighting, and that was so fast an intense. … I was covered in bruises; I threw out my back twice.”

Elsewhere in the interview, she spoke about her portrayal of the late comedian Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary Special.

“They asked me to do it, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t cause I have like a drawing of Chris Farley, like Chris Farley looms very large for me,” she told Howard and Robin. “I think he was just really amazing and special, and I looked up to him so much. [I didn’t know him, but] I served him coffee once when I worked at Starbucks. I just didn’t want to bother him. I didn’t want to make it awkward. So instead of making it awkward, I just stood there for probably 45 seconds, just locked in.

Although she was reluctant to take on the sketch, which Tina Fey wrote for her, she said it was an emotional experience for her.

“I was actually wearing his clothes. That was the actual jacket and tie, and they just took it in and shortened the sleeve without altering the object, but it had sweat stains,” she said. “When I put it on in the dressing room, I burst out crying. I was so thrown.”

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