10 Directors to Watch: Ben Falcone’s Debut Stars Wife Melissa McCarthy

Improv comic steps behind camera to helm wife Melissa McCarthy laffer 'Tammy'

Ask Ben Falcone about his directorial debut, and he’s quick to deflect the conversation to his wife and star, Melissa McCarthy, who co-wrote “Tammy,” based on a character she played at L.A.’s Groundlings Theater. Falcone will rave about the rest of the cast, which includes Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates and Dan Aykroyd. Even the crew. Everyone but himself.

When it comes to describing his role in the whole operation, he says, “I just tried not to mess things up!”
Falcone’s unwillingness to take credit fits with his improv comedy background as an improviser, where the focus is always on the ensemble. Not surprisingly, Falcone has fostered a warm, encouraging directing style, drawing from the playbook of Paul Feig.

“We were writing the movie as we were filming it. The process was very much alive,” says Falcone, who played the randy air marshal in “Bridesmaids.” “It’s the Judd Apatow and Paul Feig school of ‘the film’s not done until it’s done.’ ”

Falcone and McCarthy wrote the script for “Tammy” together, resurrecting her Groundlings character: an emotionally complicated woman who sets off on an impromptu road trip with her alcoholic grandmother after watching her job and marriage evaporate. Its outrageous, character-driven premise caught the attention of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who signed on to produce along with McCarthy.

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As a New Line summer release, the comedy is bound to boost Falcone’s profile, but he’s determined to stick to his collaborative roots. He’s writing a script with McCarthy and Steve Mallory, whom he met on the set of “Identity Thief.”

“Melissa and I just really want to work with nice people,” he says. “If somebody wrote a script that I think is amazing, and they’re super nice, why wouldn’t I want to do it?”

› Age: 40
› Home base: Los Angeles
› Agency: CAA
› Manager: The Schiff Co.

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