It was 1993, she lived in a small bedsit in Hollywood, and only had $150. But now, Melissa McCarthy is one of the funniest women in the world. A star of film and TV, McCarthy’s stock has risen since her thirty-second performance in the remake of Charlie’s Angels back in 2000, but now the world is her oyster. It seems whatever McCarthy does makes audiences laugh and her new movie, Identity Thief, is no different.

Born in Illinois, McCarthy moved to Los Angeles and joined the legendary improvisation group, The Groundlings. Not heard of them? Well, their alumni include Will Ferrell, Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Griffin and McCarthy’s Bridesmaids co-star Kristen Wiig. This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between McCarthy and comedy.

McCarthy’s first big break came in the popular television series Gilmore Girls, where she played a control freak chef and reliable best friend. The show went on to gain critical success and ran from 2000 to 2007, with McCarthy appearing in 153 of 154 episodes. Her relationship with the small screen didn’t end there. Her next television role was in the sitcom Samantha Who? alongside Christina Applegate; but it was Mike and Molly that saw McCarthy gain greater recognition. A sitcom about a couple who meet at ‘Overeaters Anonymous’, McCarthy’s role as female lead, Molly, saw her achieve awards success, winning a Primetime Emmy.

With her impressive comedic performances in various sitcoms, the movie industry soon came calling. Flying the flag for women’s comedy, her first big role came in the critically acclaimed commercial hit, Bridesmaids. McCarthy plays the loutish but loveable Megan, a performance full of crude but hilarious lines: ‘Hey ‘not-Air-Marshall’ John, wanna go back in that restroom and not rest?’ McCarthy received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and there was no doubting that she had really arrived in the world of film.

2013 looks to be McCarthy’s biggest year yet, with performances in films including This is 40, the final installment of the Hangover series and The Heat, a female cop comedy with Sandra Bullock. With further appearances as the host of Saturday Night Live to follow, McCarthy’s humble beginnings, persistence in comedy and laugh out loud performances have propelled the actress to her status as one of the funniest women in show business. Her newest film, Identity Thief, sees her swap roles with Jason Bateman to steal his identity. But in real life, McCarthy’s identity is secure; an actress at the top of her game, continuing to make us cry with laughter.

Identity Thief is released in UK cinemas on 22 March. Look out for So So Gay‘s review early next week.

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