Granny Would Be Proud! A Century Ago, a Cork Couple Called Carty Sailed to the New World. Now That Couple's Grand-Daughterr, Actress Melissa a McCarthy, Is a Star. and the Carty Family's American Dream Am Has Come True!
Byline: by Patricia Danaher
THERE is no doubt that Melissa McCarthy is not your typical Hollywood superstar. By her own admission, she doesn't look it and, despite arriving at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills with a sizeable entourage, she certainly doesn't act it.
At 42 and with many accolades at her feet, the star of sitcom Mike & Molly and movie Bridesmaids retains that actor's anxiety that it could all vanish as suddenly as it arrived.
Having finally broken through to the big time in the past few years, she admits that, along with her close friend, The Help's Octavia Spencer, she regularly pinches herself to make sure she's not dreaming.
'It's just a crazy thing,' she says.
'We've both struggled for over two decades and to have had such a fun, wild year has just been amazing for both of us.
'We're occasionally a little dumbfounded at what's happening. We're secure for about a minute and a half and then that goes away and we're panicking and wondering if we'll ever work again.' What at first was hailed as overnight success was actually 22 years in the making for the Chicago-born actress, who was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year for her part in Bridesmaids.
There is no one more amazed than Melissa at being where she is today and she puts much of her success down to her Irish roots - which she feels very keenly.
'There's a scrappiness to the Irish that I can very much relate to,' she says. 'It's a kind of working-class, not afraid to get your hands dirty, take care of a situation kind of thing.
'My Dad's friends in Chicago were all Irish and we grew up thinking of ourselves as Irish. His Dad was a Carty, but the name got changed to McCarthy when he emigrated. I'm truly a Carty.'
Melissa's grandparents emigrated in the early 1900s from Cork to Chicago, where they had ten children. She grew up living with her grandmother and parents and assorted aunts and uncles. There are three nuns in the family and she was educated at two Catholic convents. Her husband, Ben Falcone, whom she met in LA 10 years ago when they were both part of the legendary Groundlings comedy troupe, is also of Irish descent. His parents lived in Galway for many years.
'I've got about a million Chicago-Irish cops in my family and if things hadn't worked out for me as an actress, I could have seen myself as a teacher,' Melissa says.
Fortunately, things have worked out for the actress, but teaching was not the only other career she considered.
'I went to New York when I was about 20 thinking I was going to make it big in fashion design,' she says. 'I had about $32 on me and I decided to take a limo from the airport - the first of a series of bad financial decisions!
'A friend of mine persuaded me to do stand-up and I dressed up like a crazy drag queen in gold lame. I wore a crazy wig and shoes, and looked like a woman trying to be a man looking like a woman.
'I went to an open mic night and for the first time I thought, this is fun, making a group of people laugh in a room, so I never went back to my fashion studies.' Her brief foray into fashion has eventually paid off, however, and she will launch her own clothing line later this year . Following roles in Gilmore Girls and Samantha Who? in the Noughties, Melissa finally found fame with the TV show Mike & Molly, for which she has won an Emmy.
She has also written and sold a movie and a television pilot to Hollywood studios, and her next big onscreen role is in the new Judd Apatow movie This Is Forty, which also stars Chris O'Dowd.
Bridesmaids was the film that launched O'Dowd in Hollywood, and Melissa becomes positively coy when his name comes up.
'He's one of the most charming, funny men I've ever met, because I don't think he's trying to be anything other than what he is. He's truly, wickedly funny and it's just natural. …