It’s hard out there for a plus-sized-and-proud actress like Melissa McCarthy — especially in a world where svelte Jennifer Lawrence says she’s considered “obese” by Hollywood standards. But McCarthy has built a career even the tiniest starlet should envy — one that’s included an Emmy (and another nomination), an Oscar nod, and roles in two $100 million-plus-grossing comedies in the past two years.
Even so, McCarthy’s weight has made her a target for Photoshop-happy marketing execs, mean-spirited Internet commenters (that’s right, guys — we see you!), and at least one film critic. The New York Observer‘s Rex Reed famously attacked McCarthy in his review of Identity Thief this past February, calling her “tractor-sized,” a “female hippo,” and “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.” His comments quickly went viral, prompting online rage but no direct response from the comedian herself — until now.
The very mention of Reed’s remarks was enough to strip McCarthy of her normally sunny tone, according to a new profile in The New York Times. Her first reaction to the review was pure shock: “Really? Why would someone O.K. that?” As somebody raising two daughters during a “strange epidemic of body image and body dysmorphia,” the article felt particularly stinging to her.
But ultimately, the star of the upcoming comedy The Heat decided that it’s better to take the high road: “I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate,” McCarthy told the Times. “I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs.”
The Times writes that McCarthy seemed to have more to say — until she was rudely interrupted by a blaring fire alarm. “I imagine that’s my publicist,” she told her interviewer with a laugh. “The gods didn’t want us discussing this.” Find the full interview here.