How Many Lumps Does It Take to Make Audiences Laugh?
"Identity Thief" stars Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman endured a lot of bumps and bruises while shooting the comedy's set pieces.
Taking her place among the reigning queens of comedy, Melissa McCarthy took a long time getting there, coming up on TV shows like The Gilmore Girls, Samantha Who and Mike & Molly.
You could call it the school of hard knocks, which would make her new movie Identity Thief a PHD program. A slam in the head with a guitar, a near miss with a 32-pound panini maker, and a hostile meet-and-greet with the front bumper of a car are just a few of the hazards McCarthy endured on the set of the new comedy.
In her new movie, she plays an identity thief pursued by her victim, played by Jason Bateman. McCarthy’s role was originally written for a man, but after seeing her at the premiere of Bridesmaids, Bateman called Universal to suggest her for the part.
“They said, ‘Why don’t you see if you could go get her?” recalled Bateman. “So I took her out to a quick meal and had her sign something while she was passed out from the booze,” he joked.
“I saw the guitar there while we were rehearsing. And we were trying to figure out a way to stop her from leaving and we didn’t want to do the tackling of her yet,” said Bateman. “And I said, ‘What if I take her off her feet with this guitar?’ kind of joking, but not really.”
McCarthy got a sense for what was coming and quickly spoke up, “You’re kidding, right?” But director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) just kept laughing and Bateman started taking a few practice swings with the guitar. “And I was like, ‘Oh God, I think I’m gonna get hit in the face with a guitar,” groaned McCarthy.
And that’s not all she got hit with. Later in the scene, as she makes a break for the door, Bateman’s character picks up a panini maker and hurls it at her head.
“There were about 14 fake panini machines that weigh about a quarter of an ounce cause they’re foam, and then there was one real one that weighs like 32 pounds,” growled McCarthy. “And the first time we did that run to the door, he picked up the real one and let that thing fly toward my head.”
“Missed her,” interjected Bateman. “I didn’t know that there were any light ones. I thought they were all real.”
“They said, ‘There’s no way that the snake will ever come anywhere near you,” grinned McCarthy. “Then they put the snake down and it made a bee-line for his leg, which I really enjoyed.”
“Right up my pant leg and got basically all the way up to my kneecap before they yelled cut,” added Bateman. “So I had to endure a full night with a seven foot king snake, one that wrapped itself around my neck.”
In the end, producers found a CG snake to be more effective than the real thing, so they scrapped the footage they shot with Bateman and the snake.
“None of it’s in the movie,” he lamented. “I think we have the snake traveling towards my body, but that’s about it.”
Seated next to him, recalling all their bumps and bruises, McCarthy summed it up succinctly, “It was a dicey shoot.”
Check out two hilarious clips from Identity Thief below.
How do you think the movie came out? Was it worth it for the cast to take a few lumps in the name of making audiences laugh? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.