Though Melissa McCarthy's star went supernova just five years ago in a role so popular that she won both an Oscar nomination and an Emmy statue (Bridesmaids... oh please, you know the Emmy wasn't actually for Mike and Molly!) she's wasted approximately zero days since in cementing her unlikely place as a box office titan with star vehicles emerging annually since. Right now that means her new capitalist diva comedy The Boss and if it isn't Spy (2015) or The Heat (2013) level funny (sorry... but few things are) it's not bad. It sure as hell runs rings around Identity Thief (2013) and Tammy (2014) so it's firmly middle of the pack, if you ask me. (It's weird that the reviews so far are the worst of any of her solo vehicles.)
We call her place as a truly bankable actress 'unlikely' because it's just that. Guess how long it's been since audiences embraced a hefty actress as a (regular) lead? I can't think of a single one from my lifetime though we occassionally get a one time debut hit (Gabby Sidibe in Precious, Nikki Blonsky in Hairspray - they had to settle for supporting work thereafter) or a frequently employed secondary lead (Rebel Wilson). You might argue for Kathy Bates but she's only headlined a few times. I think you have to sail back to the early 1930s to the odd case of Marie Dressler who was a true box office sensation and quite awesome (see her Oscar winning Min & Bill; It's a blast!)
Though Bridesmaids entirely changed McCarthy's career her debut was way back in the cult favorite Go (1999) which she soon followed with the role that most people think of as her debut "Sookie" on several seasons of The Gilmore Girls, a role she'll reprise for the upcoming reunion. Hooray! All the McCarthy movie posters are after the jump. How many have you seen?
Part One. 1999-2007 (Gilmore Girls Adjacent)
During this phase she was also having her big break in general Gilmore Girls on TV. Though she was only an honorary Gilmore Girl playing the best friend to the leading lady. Most of her movie roles during this time period were small like "Paramedic" in White Oleander (2002) or "Sky King Waitress" in The Kid (2000) though some were substantial like the triple role in The Nines (2007) with Ryan Reynolds.
Part Two. 2008-2010 (Samantha Who? Adjacent)
She moved directly from Gilmore Girls to another second banana role in a female sitcom and made a few more movies on the side. Then everything changed...
Part Three. 2010-2016 (Mike & Molly Adjacent)
She's finished with Mike & Molly though the "series finale" doesn't air until next month. It still seems hard to believe that McCarthy became such a leading lady superstar at the movies while leading a network sitcom on the air. Despite the lines blurring between TV and film this is very uncommon. Perhaps there is another example -- can you think of anyone? Perhaps it will become more common in the future but usually, for headliners, they do primarily one medium with occasional moonlighting in the other if they feel like trying it out. (Supporting players are, or course, much freer time-wise to jump back and forth)
Part Now. The Boss (2016)
Ghostbusters (July 16th) is up next after The Boss. How many of these 22 Melissa McCarthy pictures have you seen? Have you seen most of her three big TV series: Gilmore Girls, Samantha Who?, Mike & Molly