Melissa McCarthy is known as one of the funniest people working in Hollywood today, but what most people don’t realize is that she’s also a fantastic actor, whether she’s in comedy or not. She just earned her second Oscar nomination for playing infamous forger Lee Israel in the movie Can You Ever Forgive Me?, having previously gotten a nod for Bridesmaids. There are the Melissa McCarthy roles and movies that everyone knows and loves – but there are also some lesser-known, underrated ones. And even if the movie itself isn’t great, or is widely known to suck, her performances are always fantastic.
So, without further ado, here are 8 Underrated Melissa McCarthy Performances.
8 Sandra in Go
Go is a movie with a bunch of interconnected storylines, sort of like Magnolia or Pulp Fiction, and just like those movies, it has a huge ensemble cast. There are no A-listers in the cast, since it was produced on a tight budget from a script by John August, the writer of this year’s upcoming live-action Aladdin remake. It was directed by Doug Liman, who would go on to direct such films as Edge of Tomorrow and American Made (both with Tom Cruise). In a cast that also includes indie favorites like Sarah Polley, William Fichtner, Taye Diggs, Timothy Olyphant, and Breckin Meyer, Melissa McCarthy manages to stand out in the role of Sandra. It’s a shame the movie isn’t more widely known.
7 Darla McGuckian in Central Intelligence
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Bob Stone had been talking about Darla McGuckian, the girl he liked in high school, throughout the whole movie before finally being reunited with her at the end. So, there was a lot riding on who would be playing her. It had to be someone funny whose cameo appearance would make an impact.
We’d already had the surprise appearance of Jason Bateman playing a bully and Aaron Paul playing the double agent villain. Only Melissa McCarthy could make an impression at that point, really, and she did it. She danced with naked Dwayne Johnson and saw Central Intelligence out with style.
6 Margaret/Melissa/Mary in The Nines
In 2007, John August wrote and directed this complex sci-fi thriller about three men, all played by Ryan Reynolds, whose lives become very strange when they begin to overlap with one another. Of course, Reynolds is best known now for his role as the Merc with a Mouth in the Deadpool franchise and his big break wouldn’t come until 2009 when he starred alongside Sandra Bullock in the romantic comedy The Proposal.
Melissa McCarthy also plays three roles – Margaret, Melissa, and Mary – which is a lot to ask of an actor. Unsurprisingly, she manages to draw something unique out of each of the characters and delivers three fantastic performances within the same film.
5 Michelle Darnell in The Boss
Melissa McCarthy wrote the movie The Boss, the story of a wealthy self-made businesswoman who is found guilty of insider trading and loses everything, with her husband Ben Falcone, who also directed. Her character in it, Michelle Darnell, is one of McCarthy’s creations from her early days working with the Groundlings. The film itself feels like a big, extended Saturday Night Live skit whose recurring character doesn’t quite work as a movie’s lead and is better suited to short-form material. But there’s no denying that McCarthy’s performance is hilarious, unique, and larger than life as she channels real-life success gurus like Oprah Winfrey.
4 Detective Connie Edwards in The Happytime Murders
Often ranked among the worst movies of last year, The Happytime Murders is a gritty film noir mixed with wacky comedy starring a cast of Jim Henson-style puppets living alongside humans. The joke of the movie involved characters who look like they’re from Sesame Street starring in a movie filled with sex, swearing, and violence. The joke wore thin, but Melissa McCarthy’s performance didn’t. The movie itself might have been a bitter disappointment, but McCarthy herself deserves points for holding her own against a cast of puppets and acting earnestly alongside them to sell you on the concept of the film. Bravo!
3 Cassy in The Hangover Part III
It can’t have been easy to come into the third Hangover movie and have to match Zach Galifianakis’ style and energy and still stand out as your own character. By then, he’d dominated the trilogy and made those movies his own. He went from being a quirky supporting character opposite Bradley Cooper’s leading man to being the quirky leading man opposite Bradley Cooper’s supporting straight man.
And Melissa McCarthy had to somehow make an impression in the movie as the female Alan – and she aced it. The movie itself was pretty mediocre, but Melissa McCarthy’s scenes in it were great.
2 Catherine in This is 40
When Judd Apatow likes an actor, he finds a way to shoehorn them into whatever movie he’s making. Just look at the time he found a way to get his wife and kids into a movie about a childless, unmarried comedian facing a terminal illness. After Melissa McCarthy was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the Apatow-produced Bridesmaids, there was no way he wasn’t going to write her into his next movie. There are so many bloopers from just her short couple of scenes as she endlessly ad-libbed hilarious lines – “I have very high nipples!” – and cracked up the other actors.
1 Maggie Bronstein in St. Vincent
Melissa McCarthy starred in the movie St. Vincent with other big stars like Bill Murray and Naomi Watts. It wasn’t a straight dramatic movie, but it did have surprisingly dramatic elements that McCarthy’s previous movies had lacked. It’s not a particularly well-known movie and it didn’t make much of a splash at the box office, but it received warm reviews and gave moviegoers an early indication of McCarthy’s excellent range as an actor.
It’s undeniably Bill Murray’s movie, and no one can take the spotlight from him, but McCarthy gets points for holding her own against such a gargantuan talent.