Joseph Gordon-Levitt

‘Bridesmaids’ director takes on funny lady cops

Reading the script for his new female buddy-cop comedy, “The Heat,” director Paul Feig realized he had to work again with Melissa McCarthy, who stole the show in his breakout film “Bridesmaids.”

“Ten pages into it, I knew it was perfect for Melissa. We weren't going to take no for an answer,” Feig said during a recent interview to promote the film, which opens Friday.

Happily, Sandra Bullock already was interested in playing the script's methodical, straight-laced FBI agent, the perfect foil to the foul-mouthed, take-no-prisoners Boston street cop — a role seemingly made for McCarthy.

To accommodate scheduling for McCarthy, star of TV's “Mike & Molly,” the movie was planned and filmed in a matter of weeks.

Working with such speed wasn't too difficult for Feig, whose TV credits include “Freaks and Greeks,” “The Office” and “Nurse Jackie,” among many others. He jokes about photos of directors on movie sets looking through cameras or at actors, and says an accurate on-set shot of him would show him pointing to his wristwatch.

Having a “great script” by Katie Dippold — who was inspired by the fun Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines had in “Running Scared” and thought, “Why can't women do this, too?” — kept the proceedings smooth.

Improvisation added to the mix.

“We shoot everything,” says Feig, adding that one of the film's funniest scenes, involving a watermelon being thrown during the “slowest car chase ever,” was something Feig didn't think worked at the time it was filmed.

Wackiness aside, Feig says it's “99 percent” of his job as director to “guard the tone” of the movie, to make sure the characters are authentic.

In real life, Feig says, McCarthy — whom he didn't know before “Bridesmaids — is nothing like she is in movies. “She's lovely. She gets all this aggression out in the characters.”

The set of “The Heat” was a bit of a reunion for Feig, McCarthy and a bunch of crew members. Bullock was the newcomer.

“She doesn't get all movie-starry,” says Feig, mentioning that a sequel to “The Heat” may be in store.

Meanwhile, Feig hopes to be able to continue making smart, funny, wild, female-centric Hollywood comedies. Pressed to describe what he thinks is funny, he says “Napoleon Dynamite” and this summer's “This Is The End.”

As for what's not funny, he says: “A boring motivation for any character is sex. The quest for food is funnier than the quest for sex.”

REVIEWThe Heat

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy

Written by: Katie Dippold

Directed by: Paul Feig

Rated: R

Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

artsMelissa McCarthyMoviesSandra BullockThe Heat

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