Paul Feig has developed quite a track record for working with Melissa McCarthy, who broke out in the director’s 2011 “Bridesmaids.” Their latest comedy, “Spy,” triumphed at the box office this weekend, and they’ve got a little something called “Ghostbusters” on the horizon. But Feig would love to find some time to make a “Spy” sequel, if that’s all right.
When you’re approaching a spy movie comedy, how do you figure out the right tone to make it not a complete spoof?
For me, it’s all about tone. I enjoy watching parody, but I don’t want to make parody and I don’t want to make satire and I don’t want to make spoofs just because there’s nothing to latch onto. I just really faced plotting this like a drama, like a spy movie that I would want to see — but with a story that wasn’t so complicated that it wouldn’t have room for the comedy interactions that I like. But it’s important for me that it’s violent and dangerous. If you don’t feel that your lead character is in peril, it’s hard to engage. I just want to make sure that even at its most extreme comedy moments, it makes sense, where you don’t go, “Well that’s just dumb.”
You have a great track record with Melissa McCarthy, but the lesson I keep learning is that Rose Byrne is going to steal any scene she’s in.
Isn’t she awesome? This is my favorite role that she’s ever done. She’s the best. She’s such a chameleon, too. This role was originally written for a 19-year-old bratty rich girl. She kind of tried that version, but it wasn’t quite right, so we played with accents and this cold English accent came out. And then that with her being mean to Melissa in a way where she didn’t think she was being mean, that was really funny. There’s kind of nothing she can’t do.
Some of your most notable comedy set pieces involve bodily functions. Do you have some sort of traumatic memories you’d like to talk about?
Actually, my most recurring nightmares have to do with filthy bathrooms, so I think I do have a weird thing about that. But it’s funny, when we were doing “Freaks and Geeks” people thought I was so classy, but there’s not one episode of “Freaks and Geek” that doesn’t have a fart joke in it. I think fart jokes and s— jokes are some of the funniest things in the world, if you can figure out how to do them right. They’re the most human jokes in the world.
How much do you think about franchises? For instance, talk of “Bridesmaids 2” never went anywhere.
Yeah, Kristen [Wiig] never wanted to do it. But I have no problem with franchises. I kind of thought “The Heat” would’ve ended up being a franchise. It would’ve, but Sandy [Bullock] didn’t want to do more, and I get that. She’s a giant star. But it’s what I loved about TV. You get to spend time with the characters and really develop them beyond the two hours that you get. So I like the idea of franchises, and this one definitely. I already know what I want the sequel to be, and Melissa is interested in doing it. We’ll see, my schedule is pretty busy, but I just love the genre and I want to do more of this.
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