Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from the movie Tammy.
Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from the movie Tammy. Photos Saeed Adyani

Tammy's roadtrip romp born of strange beginnings

MELISSA McCarthy's new comedy Tammy was inspired by a dream.

Her husband, long-time collaborator and the film's director Ben Falcone imagined the original seed of the project six years ago in his sleep.

"Ben came downstairs blurry-eyed, hair all over the place; he'd just woken up and he said, 'I had a dream where you and your grandmother took a road trip and she was an alcoholic and she sleeps around and I think it should be a movie'," McCarthy told APN.

"We were just talking about it as we had coffee and we just kept talking about it. It rolled into the next day and then all of a sudden I said, 'Can I call her Tammy?' We were talking about their lives and where they lived and a week later we had a lot of the story in our heads.

"It was like we're not talking about a dream any more, I think we just kind of did our outline (for the movie)."

McCarthy, star of the TV sitcom Mike and Molly, met Falcone at the famous Groundlings improv theatre and the couple has since worked together on Bridesmaids, The Identity Thief and The Heat.

He makes a cameo in Tammy as the fast-food chain manager who is pummelled with ketchup packets after he fires McCarthy's character.

"It was really fun shooting that; he was very nervous," McCarthy laughed. "When they were coming at his face he thought they were going to scratch his eyeball. We don't fight at home, maybe that's because I get to do that at work."

Susan Sarandon plays Tammy's alcoholic grandmother Pearl, who agrees to lend Tammy her car in exchange for fulfilling her childhood dream of seeing Niagara Falls.

"It's not your sweet little old granny story," she said. "She's so camera savvy and so natural and present that it's never like she's trying to do a line. She's just kind of there and she makes no mistakes; she's really effortless. It's amazing to watch."

Tammy embodies McCarthy's love for the battlers and so-called losers of the world. "I have a real soft spot for watching people kind of struggle and kind of get in their own way," she said. "As a performer I like to figure out what's the weakness under the harsh behaviour. That's what made me fall in love with her. She has to grow up.

"Susan's character is 70-something and my character is in her late 30s, so it's a coming-of-age story for two women who are not technically coming of age. They're both such a mess to the other they force the other to grow up."

As one of America's leading funny women, McCarthy has shared top-line billing with Sarandon, Sandra Bullock and soon Bill Murray in St Vincent.

The 44-year-old is also widely tipped to be cast in director Paul Feig's all-female reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise after working with him on Bridesmaids and The Heat. But she remains tight-lipped on any future ghost capers.

"The wonderful and talented Paul Feig is going to do the Ghostbusters movie and he has this great idea to do it with a female cast, but that's all I know," she said. "Anything he does is great. I think I've proved how much I love working with Paul, but I'll let Paul make those (casting) decisions."

Tammy is in cinemas now.


Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Mark Duplass.

Director: Ben Falcone.

Rating: M.

Reviewer's last word: Melissa McCarthy's raw comedic talent and screen presence is almost enough to distract you from the messy script, which feels like it takes ages to go anywhere.

Star profile: Susan Sarandon

Quirky fact: Is one of two actresses who won an Oscar for playing a nun.

Best known for: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Thelma & Louise, Dead Man Walking.

If you like this movie you'll like these: The Heat, Bridesmaids, 22 Jump Street.

Quote: "I think the only reason I remain an actor is that you can never quite get it right. So there is a challenge to it."