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What it's really like to work with Melissa McCarthy - Exclusive

Paul Feig is a pretty loyal guy when it comes to collaborators across his various film and TV projects. While he told Looper that he doesn't specifically cast big roles with an actor in mind, Feig often finds just the right spot for an actor he's worked with in the past. Sometimes, he casts big-name actors in brief roles just to see what they'll come up with, and the actors are usually on board because Paul Feig is Paul Feig — a stellar director and awesome person.

Feig has worked with comedian and actress Melissa McCarthy on a multitude of projects like Ghostbusters (2016), Bridesmaids, Heat, and Spy. The dynamic actress just so happened to be the perfect fit for each role, making Feig's job that much easier. Looper spoke to the writer-director in an exclusive interview, during which he dished on his work with Melissa McCarthy and the other A-list actors who always find a place in his films.

McCarthy's Stars Hollow start

When asked what working with McCarthy was like, and what qualities draw him to work with actors on multiple projects, Feig is more than happy to gush about the comedian. "I mean, first of all, Melissa is just such a genius, and what's great about Melissa is she's brilliantly funny, but she's also a great actress, and that's the big difference," Feig explains. "I know plenty of really funny people, and I love them, and they are great in certain things and roles, but in order to really carry a project and be the star of something, you have to really be a great actor who is able to put parts of themselves on the screen and be charismatic and be relatable and all that."

Before she broke onto the big screen, McCarthy's claim to fame was Gilmore Girls, in which she played loveable ditzy chef Sookie St. James. The role was certainly comedic in nature, calling for plenty of slapstick injuries in the kitchen. Nevertheless, it also allowed McCarthy to stretch her dramatic muscles, honing the actress' talents for seven years straight. Had she been brought up strictly in comedy, we might not have the incredibly versatile actress fans see today. The role means a lot to McCarthy, who, despite a hectic schedule, found the time to make a small appearance in Netflix's 2016 revival mini-series, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

"It's not like we always go, 'let's do the next thing together,' it's always kind of 'that was fun,'" Feig says, "then they'll develop the next thing, and it's like, 'you know who would be perfect for this would be Melissa'... We just kind of keep coming together in that way, because casting is everything, and it's really about the perfect person for the perfect role. And even if I love somebody and love working with them, it doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be the perfect person for the next thing I'm doing.

Name dropping the best

McCarthy isn't the only favorite actor that Feig keeps on speed dial. "Working with Anna Kendrick has just been one of my great joys of life," he says, "and working with Blake Lively, the same thing — and Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding." Feig casually name-dropping so many incredible actors in one sentence is a testament to how much joy he finds in collaboration.

"It's kind of who best serves the story. But the people that I work with over and over again are the people that a lot of times I just know are going to come in and make something much better," he elaborates. "That's why I love to cast a lot of these people in very small roles. I wish I had bigger roles for a lot of them because they're all so talented."

That trust in what an actor can bring to the table has resulted in some of the most memorable moments in Feig's movies. "In The Heat, I had Nate Corddry and Jamie Denbo, when I had the big clean of the Mullins' dinner table, their two roles didn't have any lines. It was just supposed to be a big family around this table. But instead of just casting just two extras who looked right, I said to both Nate and Jamie, just come on board. I know [there are] no lines, but we're just going to play around," Feig explains of his process. "And so out of that, Nate gets this amazing runner that becomes one of the funniest things in the movie... 'Are you a narc, are you a narc?' That was just complete improv... It just came from having funny people and getting out of their way and just setting up opportunities for them to then be funny and be in the moment."

The director leaves the in-the-moment talent to the actors and the final product to the editors. "And then we get to sort it all out in the editing room," Feig says. "I have a real aversion to what I call 'they went that way' roles or actors, [where] the star runs up, [and asks], 'Where are they?' 'Oh, they went over there.' And it's a nothing moment, versus if I put somebody who I know is inventive and funny in there, they're going to come up with something that's going to make it a moment that is worth watching and not just functional to the story."

Fans of Feig's other comedies will love Other Space, the short-lived series that ended when the Yahoo! Screen platform folded but is finding new life — the entire first (and only) season is now available to stream on DUST right now.

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