BEVERLY HILLS Calif. Comedian Melissa McCarthy and her husband and writing partner Ben Falcone team up for the first time behind and in front of the camera in "Tammy," a Midwestern road-trip comedy about a woman's desire to start over.
The Warner Bros. film, which opens in U.S. theaters on Wednesday, is Falcone's directorial debut and stars McCarthy as an endearing buffoon character alongside Susan Sarandon as her boozing, man-chasing grandmother.
McCarthy, 43, and Falcone, 40, who have been married for a decade, spoke to Reuters about being small-town Midwesterners in Hollywood, their writing process and why the creative spark often occurs while driving a car.
Q: Do you have a method or formula for working together?
Falcone: First of all, whenever we have good ideas, it's almost always in the car because you drive a lot in L.A. ... And you just say stupid things to make your spouse laugh, and that's usually when we come up with something that's maybe fun.
So that's our idea place. And then the best way that we write is when we both are sitting there, there's a computer, we start writing, and we trade off typing.
McCarthy: I'll do a bunch of dialogue, and then he'll say we're not doing that yet. And I'll be like, "Yeah, but I think this is what I say." And so we'll type that out and keep all that stuff further down the script until we're ready for that scene because I'm a little more scattered.
Q: Do you record your conversations while driving, or can you both remember the details?
Falcone: We have long voicemails.
McCarthy: Sometimes when it's a run, and it'll be a really scatological thing, I do try to record it because if I say it once, it's gone. I can never get it back.
Falcone: I've taken to just writing on the notes section of my iPhone, which is like a sad thing to do, but it's been very effective.
Q: Does collaboration come easy?
McCarthy: It always has ...
Falcone: Because I'm boring and slow. It's very true.
McCarthy: Not true at all.
Falcone: Once in a while I'm funny. But I'm a boring, slow, structure guy: "This all makes sense. This is a good beginning, middle, end." And she's just the funniest person in the world.
But once in a while it can almost be too funny in too many different places at once. And we're like, "Well, it's good that there's this boring slow guy that says, 'This goes here and this goes here.'"
Q: You both are from small-town Illinois. Do you ever feel like reserved Midwesterners out of place with the Hollywood set?
McCarthy: I don't feel like an outsider because I've been finding everyone so much more pleasant than I thought. I think we thought, "OK now somebody actually wants to do 'Tammy,' is this when the hammer drops?"
Falcone: I kept thinking somebody with a monocle was going to step out of the shadows and be like, "Now it's time to get serious."
McCarthy: We're wildly non-Hollywood.
Falcone: I enjoy so many of the people we've been lucky enough to hang out with, but I certainly don't feel like, "It's another Hollywood party tonight!"
McCarthy: If you like to be in bed by 8:30 because you're tired and your kids are up early ...
Falcone: If you like to have one glass of red wine and go to sleep, you should party with Ben Falcone!
McCarthy: 'Cause we swing Hollywood style for the elderly set!
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Lisa Von Ahn)