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Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon take a raunchy road trip in 'Tammy'

Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy
Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy
New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures

The comedy film “Tammy” is the first major-studio collaboration written by Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone. The couple are also two of the producers of the movie, and Falcone directed “Tammy.” After losing her job, husband and car in one day, Tammy Banks (played by McCarthy) wants out of her small town existence. With no money or transportation, her only way out is with her hard-partying grandmother Pearl (played by Susan Sarandon). Their misadventures and brushes with the law lead them on a funny and heartfelt road trip to remember.

Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy at the Los Angeles premiere of "Tammy"
Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy at the Los Angeles premiere of "Tammy"
Getty Images

The film also stars Allison Janney as Tammy’s world-weary mom, Deb; Gary Cole as ladies’ man Earl; Mark Duplass as Earl’s son, Bobby; Dan Aykroyd as Tammy’s dad, Don; and Kathy Bates as Pearl’s fun-loving lesbian cousin Lenore; Sandra Oh as Lenore’s partner Susanne; Toni Collette as Tammy’s neighbor Missi; and Nat Faxon as Tammy’s husband, Greg; and Sarah Baker as Becky, who works at a fast-food place that Tammy robs. McCarthy, Falcone, Sarandon, Duplass, Cole, Faxon and Baker gathered for a “Tammy” press conference in Los Angeles. Here is what they said.

Melissa, is it true that it was your idea to do the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation scene with the deer?

McCarthy: We were talking about it that if she really hit a deer, she would feel horrible, like you would, and she would do whatever it would take. And if she were actually down there, I thought, “Would she actually try to resuscitate? And would it work?” And we thought we wouldn’t get that close, but that was my own weird idea.

Was a real deer used in that scene?

McCarthy: No, but thank you for asking. For a long time, it was the puppetry version of it, but every time we would show it to people, they were like, “The deer looks horrible!” It’s a digital deer. I did not actually run down a deer for “Tammy.” I promise.

Susan, did the road trip in "Tammy" remind you of the road trip in "Thelma and Louise"? Were there any jokes about that during the filming of "Tammy"?

Sarandon: We didn’t think about it for the longest time until we were doing press. They brought a car in and we said, “You know, it might remind people of that other movie.” And they were like, “Oh yeah.” I don't know. It was so different. I don't think it really...

Duplass: Are we talking about "Bull Durham"?

McCarthy: There was a whole baseball scene where we had to play baseball. We ended up having to cut that. Sorry, it’s early. I’ll get better.

Sarandon: We’re not warmed up.

Susan, how were you approached to be a part of “Tammy”? Can you talk about changing your looks for the movie?

Sarandon: Ben and Melissa called me and prepared me for the script. I got the script I thought it was really fun. I was doing another movie, and I didn’t quite understand what reality we would be in. So we had another call. I was excited by the way they work.

And then Mark Duplass — it was a conspiracy — called me. I didn’t even know he was going to be in the movie, but he called me and said, “Oh, you have to do this. These are such great people.” Peer pressure got to me, and I thought, “I’ll jump.”

I was a little worried because there wasn’t much time between the other film I was doing. So I did three in a row — all alcoholic, pill-popping characters. So I was prepared, in that sense. We texted little pictures of possible looks and figured out the age thing. She wasn’t much older than I actually am. She just doesn’t have my makeup and hair people. Let’s go for it.

McCarthy: One of the first questions in the meeting on the phone was, “Are you seeing a little old granny with glasses in a crocheted sweater and an updo bun?” And we’re like, “Oh God, no! She has raging problems with alcohol and she sleeps around.” And it was like, “OK, we’ll be fine. We’re in a real realm here.”

Melissa, how did growing up in Illinois influence your comedic sensibilities?

McCarthy: Ben and I both grew up in Illinois. That’s kind of why when we started writing [the “Tammy” screenplay], we said, “I think this woman is from where he grew up, and it’s where I went to college.”

We had to base it on real people we know and what it’s like if you feel stuck. I think there are people who really love the comfort of their small town, and there are people who feel stuck by it. And that was kind of our jumping-off place. If you’re really stuck in this rut, and you’re stuck in this whole little tiny world of things you don’t like, how hard to you have to get hit to bump you out of your vicious cycle?

Falcone: It was sort of a love letter to Illinois, though it’s kind of ironic that the whole love letter is about someone who’s desperate to leave.

For more info: "Tammy" website