McCarthy's story struck a nerve with many as it highlighted the importance of speaking up when things get out of hand.
Melissa McCarthy opened up about the time she was "physically sick" due to a "hostile" work environment in an interview published by The Observer, a sister publication of The Guardian, on May 21. The American actor, screenwriter and producer, who stars as "Ursula" in Disney's live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid," spoke about standing up to a difficult person who made the set uncomfortable to work in.
“I did work for someone once who ran such a volatile, hostile set that it made me physically ill,” she shared. “My eyes were swelling up. I was absorbing all of this nuttiness.” Working in hostile surroundings is not easy and it requires courage to stand up to it. McCarthy's story struck a nerve with many as it highlighted the importance of speaking up when things get out of hand.
McCarthy recalled how others were “weeping” because they were “visibly so upset by this one person.” She noted that the unnamed person used manipulative tactics to refrain her from speaking up. “I think that is why the manipulation worked, because to get to me, this person would fire people I loved, which kept me quiet. It was very effective,” she explained. But McCarthy finally reached a tipping point and called them out on their problematic behavior. “Then one day, I was like, ‘It stops today!’” she said. “I just kept saying to them, ‘It stops, it stops.’” That experience now influences her behavior on set. “And I know now I’ll never keep quiet again,” she added.
The "Bridesmaids" star and her husband, actor and comedian Ben Falcone, have also ensured that their own production company, 'On the Day Productions,' is free of problematic people. The production house has released some of the biggest comedies like “Tammy,” “The Boss” and “Life of the Party.” As for the hiring process, Mccarthy said the couple does a “crazy check” because they “demand” kindness on their productions.
She shared, “You know, we were so astounded and grateful at getting to build our little worlds, we were like, ‘We have to build the one we’ve always talked about, where everybody gets to have an opinion, and everyone is nice. It will run much better with no screamers or crazy egos bumbling around. Why would we risk destroying that?’”
Throughout the interview, McCarthy constantly emphasized the importance of kindness. The "Identity Thief" actress also touched on prejudice after her new film, “The Little Mermaid,” received racist backlash because Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel in the live-action remake. McCarthy criticized those derogatory views and called them unjustifiable. “I hate any kind of injustice,” she said. “And people attacking someone for just trying to be who they truly are. What does it matter to them? Do no harm, be kind — if everyone just followed those two rules, we’d be fine. Not, ‘You can’t read this book’, ‘You can’t talk about certain histories.' I don’t have any patience for all that."
McCarthy said how "unbelievable" it would be to see everyone walk away from hatred and just treat everybody with kindness. Known for her hit comedies, like “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” and “Spy,” she praised the genre for allowing fans “to sit next to somebody whose ideas don’t match up. And maybe you come out a little closer.”
Making people love or laugh a little won't stop the world from falling apart, but it will teach many to live again. “I can hopefully give someone who’s had a bad day an hour and a half to go into a different world where bills or illness isn’t the top thing on their brain,” she said. "That’s the only skill set I have. So I have to keep trying."