After seven years of working to turn their concept into a feature film, comedic couple Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone said the premiere of “Tammy” Monday night at the TCL Chinese Theatre was not only the final step to completing a long-awaited project but also one that hit close to home — literally.
Walking together on the red carpet and often finishing one another’s sentences, the film’s lead actress and director, who were joined by co-stars Susan Sarandon, Mark Duplass, Sarah Baker, Mia Rose Frampton and exec producer Will Ferrell, said the character of Tammy had become another member of their family.
“You work on something so long, and those characters kind of become real people and you get attached,” McCarthy told Variety.
“Tammy” is a film about a Midwestern heroine who loses her fast-food job and cheating husband and sets off on a road trip with her alcoholic and promiscuous grandmother, with plans of making it to Niagara Falls.
McCarthy and Falcone, who both hail from small towns in Illinois, said Tammy represented themselves and their aspirations when they were younger and still living in Middle America.
“I think Tammy kind of mirrors us because she wants to get out and ends up not going that far – it’s not really the town, it’s her that’s the problem,” McCarthy explained as more than 200 cheering fans, who lined all sides of Hollywood Boulevard around the theater screamed her name, hoping to get a glimpse of the actress.
“We both had the feeling that we had to get out of here, we have to go to a bigger city, we have to go to a different coast and then you do and you go ‘ahhh,’” McCarthy said to Variety.
“The minute I leave I’m like, ‘Boy, I should write movies about the Midwest,’” said Falcone, one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch this year.
Years removed from living in the Midwest, the couple is continuing to make large moves in the industry. They said they plan on co-writing and directing projects with one another in the future and are aiming to build up their 2-year-old production company, On the Day.
The cast and exec producers also agreed that “Tammy” is an opportunity to showcase more talents on the silver screen.
“It is sort of a golden age for female leading ladies right now,” said exec producer Toby Emmerich at the afterparty. He also said New Line Cinema “aggressively pursued” and financed the film after hearing McCarthy was going to star in it. “Melissa is sort of at the top of the heap. There’s a bunch that I think are incredibly talented and the world is recognizing for doing their thing.”
He listed Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey and Leslie Mann as other female comedians getting recent recognition for their wit.
With the release of the movie coming on the heels of the Fourth of July weekend, some cast members said it was an opportunity for larger auds to see McCarthy’s humor on the bigscreen.
“I don’t think with comedy it’s that much of a male or female thing anymore. I think people just respond to funny, and she’s just funny. How could you deny it, you know?” said co-star Baker.
Those closely associated with the film said that McCarthy and Falcone are a dynamic duo on and off the set. The two often feed off of one another’s energy – bringing a great amount of energy and laughs to making “Tammy.”
“They are amazing. Everyone at our company loves them,” Emmerich said. “As filmmakers, as marketers, as partners, as producers, as writers, they’re fantastic.”
However, McCarthy and Falcone laughed off comparisons to other legendary comedic couples like Lucy and Desi.
“Oh, that’s tough. I would never in a million years compare myself to them,” McCarthy said.
“That’s some gigantic shoes to fill,” Falcone finished.
After the film, the aud trekked over to the afterparty held at Mel’s Drive-In. The diner was turned into the film’s fictional fast food restaurant, Topper Jack’s, for the night. Guests could re-enact McCarthy’s robbery scene at the photo booth and were offered diner food goodies including bite-size hamburgers, apple pies and milkshakes.
New Line Cinema’s “Tammy” bows July 2 — on the same day McCarthy will get her hand and footprints immortalized in cement in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre.
(Pictured: Ben Falcone, Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy at the “Tammy” premiere)