10.16.18

Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant & Dolly Wells Discuss "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

In "Can You Ever Forgive Me?," Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer (and cat lover) who made her living in the 1970's and 80's profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estée Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee found herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, she turned her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack. McCarthy and fellow stars Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells took to the BUILD stage to discuss the new film.

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>>> THANK YOU EVERYBODY. WELCOME TO BUILD. I'M YOUR HOST. RICKY CAMILLERI. OUR NEXT GUESTS ARE THE CAST BEHIND THE WONDERFUL NEW MOVIE, “CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?” THIS TRUE STORY STARS MELISSA McCARTHY, A CELEBRITY BIOGRAPHER LEE ISRAEL WHO IN AN ATTEMPT TO MAKE QUICK MONEY GETS IN OVER HER HEAD FORGING THE PERSONAL LETTERS OF FAMOUS AUTHORS. THE FILM ALSO STARS DOLLY WELLS, A BOOKSTORE OWNER SWEPT UP BY ISRAEL’S SCHEMES, AND THE GREAT RICHARD E. GRANT IN A PERFORMANCE THAT HARKENS BACK TO ONE OF THE BEST OF ALL-TIME. LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT “CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?”

>>> JUST THESE. I.

>> I SCHLEPPED THESE ALL THE WAY HERE.

>> PEOPLE ARE WAITING.

>> YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE SO DISRESPECTFUL. YOU'VE ACTUALLY CARRIED MY BOOKS HERE.

>> YOU ARE?

>> LEE ISRAEL.

>> WE HAVE COPIES OF YOUR LATEST WORK RIGHT OVER THERE. NOBODY IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE WRITER LEE ISRAEL. I'M BEHIND ON MY RENT, MY CAT IS SICK.

>> MY SUGGESTION TO YOU IS YOU GO OUT THERE AND YOU FIND ANOTHER WAY TO MAKE A LIVING. FOUND A LETTER.

>> ONE OF MY FAVORITES.

>> I COULD GIVE YOU 75.

>> I COULD GIVE MORE FOR BETTER CONTENT. IT'S A BIT BLAND IS ALL.

>> YEAH. I CAN DEFINITELY GET A LOT MORE FOR THIS ONE.

>> THE PS MAKES IT PRICELESS.

>> QUITE BY ACCIDENT I FIND MYSELF IN A RATHER CRIMINAL POSITION.

>> WHAT CRIMINAL ACTIVITY COULD POSSIBLY INVOLVE. EXCEPT A CRIME OF FASHION.

>> I’M EMBELLISHING WRITTEN WORKS FROM BRILLIANT WRITERS.

>> I LOVE HIS WRITING. PARTICULARLY CLEVER DON'T YOU THINK?

>> CAUSTIC WIT.

>> THIS IS QUITE SOMETHING. THESE ARE WONDERFUL.

>> I THOUGHT SO TOO.

>> NAME YOUR PRICE.

>> YOU ARE LOOKING AT ONE MONTH'S RENT.

>> WHAT WILL WE DO, GAMBLE, SHOP, DRINK?

>> MS. ISRAEL I HAVE A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS REGARDING THE LAST LETTER I PURCHASED.

>> WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE PROBLEM?

>> PEOPLE ARE ON ALERT. YOUR NAME HAS BEEN PUT ON THE LIST.

>> ON THE LIST? LITERARY TREASURES, ONE OF A KIND. IT'S MY WRITING.

>> YOU'RE IMPERSONATING OTHER PEOPLE. NOBODY IS BUYING LEE ISRAEL LETTERS.

>> TODAY'S -- YOU'RE STEALING FROM ME?

>> COME ON.

>> GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.

>> SUPPOSED TO BE SOMETHING MORE THAN THIS.

>> WE'RE PROBABLY LOOKING AT SOMETIME BEHIND BARS.

>> WHAT?

>> I CAN'T SAY THAT I REGRET ANY OF MY ACTIONS. IN MANY WAYS, THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE.

>> WELCOME FROM “CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME,” DOLLY WELLS, RICHARD E. GRANT AND MELISSA McCARTHY.

>> HI THERE.

>> CONGRATULATIONS ON THIS WONDERFUL MOVIE. IT'S FANTASTIC FROM BEGINNING TO END. IT'S WILDLY UNPRETENTIOUS, NO FRILLS AND PERFECTLY PITCHED AND EVERY MOMENT IS EITHER HILARIOUS OR TRAGIC. CONGRATULATIONS GUYS.

>> THANK YOU.

>> MELISSA, YOU'RE GETTING ALL THIS PRAISE FOR THIS MOVIE, RIGHTFULLY SO. EVERYBODY IS SAYING THAT IT'S A DIFFERENT KIND OF PERFORMANCE FOR YOU. I FEEL LIKE AS SOMEONE WHO WATCHED ALL OF YOUR COMEDY PERFORMANCES, IT'S ACTUALLY QUITE SIMILAR IN THE SENSE THAT YOU'VE ALWAYS BEEN IN TUNE WITH MANNERISMS AND TICKS AND IN PATHOS. YOU'RE DOING THE SAME THING HERE IN A DIFFERENT KIND OF MOVIE. DO YOU FEEL AS A PERFORMER THAT YOU ARE MAKING SOME KIND OF BIG LEAP?

>> NO. FOR ME IT FEELS VERY MUCH THE SAME IN TERMS OF -- I READ A SCRIPT AND I NEVER WANT TO KNOW WHAT GENRE THEY'RE SAYING IT'S IN. I WANT TO READ IT FOR THE STORY AND FOR THE CHARACTER. I FELL IN LOVE WITH LEE AND THIS WHOLE STORY IMMEDIATELY. MAYBE EVEN STRANGELY QUICK. I'M A QUARTER OF THE WAY THROUGH AND I DON'T KNOW WHY I LIKE HER SO MUCH. SHE HASN'T DONE ANYTHING TANGIBLE THAT I CAN SAY WHY I LIKE HER AND BECOMING ENAMORED WITH HER. FOR ME, I PREPARE THE SAME WAY AND I THINK WITH ALL THE -- I'VE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO PLAY A LOT OF VERY FLAWED CHALLENGING WOMEN WHICH ARE MY FAVORITE IN LIFE AND IN STORIES. I ALWAYS THOUGHT I THINK THEY HAVE THE SAME -- I LOVE TO PLAY WITH WHAT ARE PEOPLE'S DEFENSE MECHANISMS VERSUS WHAT'S GOING ON. I LOVE PLAYING LEE. I THOUGHT SHE WAS KIND OF ANOTHER FANTASTIC WOMAN I GOT TO ADD TO MY, LIKE, ROSTER IN MY WEIRD BRAIN THAT KEEPS THEM ALL WITH ME.

>> DO YOU FEEL THERE'S NOTHING TO PLAY IF THE PERSON ISN'T FLAWED ON THE PAGE IN SOME WAY?

>> I DON'T KNOW HOW TO BE OR -- I DON'T KNOW ANYONE WHO IS PERFECT. I WOULDN'T KNOW. I'M SO SORRY. WITH THE EXCEPTION OF RICHARD E. GRANT. I DIDN'T KNOW I HAD TO STATE THE OBVIOUS. WHEN I READ THINGS BEFORE IN THE PAST WHERE SOMEONE SEEMED PLEASANT, I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT DO WITH IT. I WAS LIKE, I DON'T THINK I'M SKILLED ENOUGH TO PLAY PLEASANT. I DON'T KNOW ANYONE WHO DOESN'T HAVE OPINIONS OR QUIRKS AND TICKS. ALL MY FRIENDS ARE SO STRANGE AND I LOVE THEM FOR IT. I THOUGHT YOU NEED TO SEE THE BUMPS AND BRUISES AND THE IDIOSYNCRASIES THAT MAKE US ALL HUMAN AND ALSO THAT MAKE US INTERESTING.

>> THAT'S IN ONE OF OTHER PERFORMANCES THIS YEAR. THE ONES YOU MADE WITH YOUR HUSBAND THIS YEAR. THAT IS A CHARACTER WHO IS PLEASANT BUT TO A FAULT. HER FAULT IS ALMOST THAT SHE'S TOO PLEASANT.

>> I THOUGHT AN AGGRESSIVE PEOPLE PLEASER IS KIND OF THIS -- IT'S THE SAME MECHANISM. IT'S STILL YOUR DEFENSE. IT'S STILL WHAT YOU DO TO NOT LET PEOPLE REALLY SEE WHO YOU ARE.

>> RICHARD, YOU'RE PLAYING A CHARACTER. YOUR CHARACTER, JOHN HAWK, EXCUSE ME. RIGHT? JOHN HAWK. HE'S SIMILAR TO ONE OF MY FAVORITE PERFORMANCES OF ALL-TIME WHICH IS ONE YOU GAVE WITH NAIL -- DID THAT GIVE YOU HESITATION OR WERE YOU EXCITED TO DIVE BACK INTO AN ALCOHOLIC EXTROVERT.

>>ISM ALLERGIC TO ALCOHOL. I SEEM TO SPEND MY LIFE PLAYING SOME FORM OF ADDICTION. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMPLIMENT. IT DIDN'T CROSS MY MIND AT ALL. YOU DO IT, YOU LOOK THE SAME AND YOU KNOW, HE'S A GUY WHO IS HIV POSITIVE. HE'S LIVING EVERY DAY FOR THE MEMBER THAT HE CAN. HE'S BETWEEN APARTMENTS. HE'S GOT VERY LITTLE MONEY. HE FALLS INTO GRIFTING WITH MELISSA'S CHARACTER. I HAVE TO SAY A HUNDRED TIMES OVER THAT THE PRIVILEGE AND PLEASURE OF WORKING WITH MELISSA HAS BEEN ABSOLUTELY EXTRAORDINARY BECAUSE SHE IS SO TRUTHFUL. EVERY SINGLE THING SHE DOES, SHE BREAKS YOUR HEART.

>> YOU GET THE SENSE WATCHING THIS MOVIE SCENE BY SCENE, WHICH IS THE TWO OF YOU LOVE PERFORMING WITH EACH OTHER, ARE JUST KIND OF LIKE ON FIRE AND --

>> WE DON'T CARE FOR EACH OTHER.

>> REALLY?

>> NOT AT ALL.

>> THIS IS THE BEST ACT WE'RE DOING RIGHT NOW.

>> WONDERFUL. I SAW HER GETTING TEARY AS YOU WERE COMPLIMENTING HER.

>> DON'T TELL HIM.

>> HE'LL USE IT OVER ME FOREVER.

>> NO. WE MET ON FRIDAY. WE STARTED SHOOTING ON MONDAY. THERE WASN'T A BIT OF A NERVOUS FACTOR OF MY GOD, IF IT DOESN'T WORK OUT, THIS IS GOING TO BE SUPER AWKWARD.

>> NO.

>> I DON'T KNOW. I THINK -- I DON'T THINK I WAS OVER THE THRESHOLD OF THE ROOM BEFORE I WAS LIKE -- OH, I THINK I LIKE HIM. IT JUST SEEMED EASY AND SILLY AND I ALWAYS FELT LIKE I HAD SOMEONE COMPLETELY, COMPLETELY THERE. LIKE VERY ATTENTIVE IN SCENES. BOTH WITH DOLLY AND WITH RICHARD, IT JUST SEEMED LIKE EVERYONE -- THEY PUT THIS LOVELY STRANGE -- HELLER, OUR WONDERFUL DIRECTOR PUT TOGETHER A CAST THAT I FELT EVERY TIME WE DID A SCENE, YOU THOUGHT, ISN'T THAT JUST THE PERFECT PERSON FOR THAT. IT JUST FELT EASY AND IT SAT DOWN AND YEAH, ALL DELIGHTFULLY WORKED.

>> AS A VIEWER, I WOULD AGREE WITH THAT AS WELL. EVERY TIME A FACE SHOWED UP ON SCREEN, I TOLD YOU THIS. I STARTED LIKE CLAPPING IN THE THEATER. I WAS EXCITED THAT YOU WERE PLAYING THIS CHARACTER. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT GETTING THE SCRIPT AND FIGURING THIS CHARACTER OUT WITH THEM?

>> I REMEMBER READING THE SCRIPT AND THINKING THAT IT WAS SUCH A SIMPLE, DESCRIBE THE BEGINNING, SUCH A BEAUTIFUL SIMPLE STORY. WHERE THERE WAS VERY LITTLE MORE THAN AN HONEST PORTRAYAL OF THESE CHARACTERS. I WAS REALLY EXCITED. I'VE NEVER PLAYED ANYONE LIKE HER BEFORE. A SORT OF GROWNUP BUT A CHILD. NOT MS. HAFR SHAM. SHE LIVED IN HER FATHER'S BOOKSHELF AND WAS COMPLETELY BEHIND HER SHADOW. HER FRIENDS WERE THE GHOSTS OF THE WRITERS AND SUDDENLY LEE WALKS IN AND IS A REAL, THE RIGHTER SHE REALLY ADMIRES. THERE'S SOMETHING SO SWEET ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP AND ABOUT THE SORT OF NAIVE WAY SHE LOOKS AT EVERYTHING. IT'S SO SWEET, THE JUXTAPOSITION BETWEEN THEM. THAT DINNER SCENE WAS A REAL -- I FELT SO LUCKY, LIKE RICHARD, THAT ONCE I KNEW MELISSA WAS PLAYING LEE, I THOUGHT IT WAS THE MOST EXCITING THING POSSIBLE. I'VE SEEN THE FILM FOUR TIMES. THERE'S NOT A MOMENT THAT YOU AREN'T JUST COMPLETELY LOVING LEE. YOU CAN'T HELP IT BECAUSE OF WHAT MELISSA BRINGS TO IT. SO YES, SO THE WHOLE COMBINATION OF IT. MELISSA, RICHARD AND THESE CHARACTERS TELLING A SMALL STORY OF JUST HUMANS. IT'S NOT INCREDIBLE POWERFUL PEOPLE. IT REMINDED ME, MY HUSBAND WATCHED IS WITH ME. HE GREW UP IN NEW YORK, IN THE CHELSEA HOTEL. I KNOW THESE PEOPLE. I KNOW THESE PEOPLE. HE LOVED IT FOR THAT REASON. I DIDN'T MOVE UNTIL 2013. IT WAS SO REAL AND SUCH A SORT OF -- MY IDEA OF NEW YORK WAS WATCHING THAT FILM. THESE ARE THE FLIMSY WATCH THAT I LOVED -- FILMS I WATCH THAT I LOVED.

>> MY IDEA OF NEW YORK AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME. YOU MENTIONED THE DINNER SCENE AND YOU MENTIONED THAT JACK IS LIVING WITH HIV. THERE'S AN ELEMENT TO THIS MOVIE. IT IS VERY MUCH AN LGBT MOVIE. BUT THERE'S AN APPROACH ABOUT IT. IN THE SENSE IT'S NOT THE FIRST THING YOU APPROACH WHEN YOU SEE THE MOVIE OR WHAT THE MOVIE IS ABOUT FIRST AND FOREMOST. NOR DOES IT FEEL LIKE THE FIRST THING ON THE MOVIE'S MIND. IT FEELS LIKE A RADICAL SHIFT IN HOW WE TELL LGBTQ STORIES. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHARACTER AND THE RELATIONSHIPS AND THAT ASPECT?

>> I THINK YOU'RE ALWAYS ON THE RIGHT PATH OF SOMETHING WHEN YOU'RE JUST SHOWING PEOPLE WHO ARE. THEY ARE THIS. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THEY'VE JUST PUT ON LIKE A NEW SWEATER. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THEY'VE PICKED UP OR SUDDENLY ACQUIRED. I THINK IT'S THE BEST OF WHAT WE CAN DO AND WE CAN SHOW THE WORLD THAT WE WANT TO LIVE AND SHOW SOMEONE IS SOMETHING. THEY'RE ALSO SO MANY OTHER THINGS. IT'S A SECTION OF WHO THEY ARE. AND THAT IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT HAS TO BE TALKED ABOUT OR, LIKE, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT? IT SHOULD BE LIKE, IT IS. I THINK WHENEVER WE CAN DO THAT. WHEN A MALE CHARACTER HAS A HUSBAND AND IT'S NOT ON TOPIC, I ALWAYS THINK YOU SHOW THE WORLD THAT YOU WANT PEOPLE WHO MAYBE DON'T GET THE CHANCE TO BE AROUND IT. THEY CAN START TO REALIZE, LIKE, OH, THE WORLD WON'T EXPLODE. IT'S FINE. YOU HAVE TO START SHOWING THE REAL WORLD. [ APPLAUSE ]

>> THANKS. I THINK WHEN FILMMAKERS DO THAT AND IT WAS HANDLED BEAUTIFULLY. IT'S A PART OF WHAT WE ALL DEAL WITH. I LOVED IT FOR THAT, TOO.

>> SORT OF MAKES US REMEMBER SO OFTEN, EVEN THE LIVES OF LGBT PEOPLE. WE'RE TOLD THROUGH THE LENS OF LIKE A STRAIGHT WHITE MAN AND SO OFTEN THEIR EXPERIENCES WAS THE ONLY THING THAT THAT WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER COULD FOCUS ON. THEY WERE BAFFLED BY IT. WHEREAS, WITH THIS, THEY EXIST WITHIN THIS WORLD AS YOU SAID. YOUR CHARACTER IS AN ALCOHOLIC AND SHE'S DRUNK OR HALF DRUNK, I THINK MOST OF THE MOVIE.

>> THAT'S FAIR.

>> YOU KNOW, IT'S A FINE LINE THAT YOU WALK BECAUSE EVEN WHEN YOU'RE PLAYING REALLY DRUNK, YOU'RE NOT PLAYING IT IN A BROAD COMEDIC WAY WHERE YOU'RE -- BUT THERE IS OFTENTIMES A SLUR THAT YOU HAVE TO FIND THAT IS SOMEONE WHO LIVES WITH THIS SLUR ON A DAILY BASIS. IT'S MODULATED AT DIFFERENT POINTS. HOW DID YOU FIND THAT AND PINPOINT WHO YOU BE WOULD IN EACH SCENE?

>> I TRIED NOT TO THINK -- I THOUGHT HER TOLERANCE LEVEL WAS PROBABLY PRETTY UNBELIEVABLY HIGH. I THINK SOMEONE WHO DRINKS KIND OF ON A STEADY KEEL IS. I THOUGHT ABOUT IT LESS AS BEING DRUNK AND DOING SOMETHING. I OFTEN THOUGHT FOR LEE, WHICH FOR SOME REASON TICKLES ME, HOW MUCH EFFORT SHE WAS EVER WILLING TO GIVE SOMEONE ELSE. BECAUSE I DO THINK -- I'VE PLAYED SO MANY CHARACTERS THAT ARE ACTION FORWARD AND I'LL STOP YOU OR PLEASE YOU AND DO SOMETHING. LEE WAS INTERESTING TO ME. I DID ALWAYS GET THE FEELING THAT SHE WOULD SIT BACK AND WAIT WITH THE HOPE OF MAYBE SOMEBODY WOULD JUST KIND OF LIKE GO AWAY. IT WAS THIS WAITING THING. EVEN WHEN SHE TALKED SOMETIMES, IF SHE HAD MORE, EITHER LET HER GUARD DOWN A LITTLE AND THERE WAS MORE BREADTH BEHIND IT BECAUSE SHE WAS ACTUALLY ENGAGING IN HER OWN WAY OR SHE WOULD HAVE LESS. I DON'T KNOW IF ANY OF THIS MAKES SENSE. THIS COULD MEAN WHAT PURPLE MEANS TO ME.

>> IT'S KIND OF LIKE HOW MUCH EFFORT WAS GOING TO BE BEHIND HER VOICE. WHEN SHE WAS STAYING GUARDED, IT WAS WEIRD PLAYS ON THAT. I DON'T KNOW IF THAT MAKES ANY SENSE OUTSIDE OF THIS BALL OF CRAZY. BY THE WAY, RICHARD TOLD ME TO SAY THAT.

>> BUT IT WAS ALSO -- SHE IS HER OWN WORST ENEMY. EVEN WHEN SOMEBODY WAS TRYING TO HELP THEM. IF SHE DOESN'T RESPECT THEIR ANGLE, THE ANGLE THEY'RE TAKING SHE CAN KIND OF GO AFTER THEM. THAT'S A TACTIC FOR ARTISTS WHO DON'T FEEL SUCCESSFUL. I THINK THE SCENE WITH JANE CURTAIN. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT SCENE AND HOW YOU THINK ABOUT -- IS IT ABOUT BEING TRUTHFUL OR DO YOU WORRY ABOUT MAKING HER THE LEAST BIT LIKABLE?

>> NO. I NEVER WORRIED ABOUT THAT AT ALL. I THINK I LIKED LEE SO MUCH. I LOVE THAT SHE SIMPLY WAS WHO SHE WAS. EVEN WHEN IT MADE THINGS MUCH MORE DIFFICULT FOR HER. I THINK SHE STOOD IN HER OWN SHOES AND WAS LIKE, THIS IS WHO I AM. I DON'T NEED YOU TO LIKE ME. I DON'T EVEN WANT YOU TO LIKE ME. SO SHE COULD OPERATE ON A VERY DIFFERENT PATH. I THINK, ESPECIALLY NOW, SO MANY PEOPLE KIND OF WAIT TO KNOW WHO THEY ARE FROM THE REFLECTION OF OTHERS AND SEE, LIKE, DO YOU THINK MY VACATION WAS OKAY ON FACEBOOK? JUST TAKE A VACATION. WHY DO YOU NEED EVERYONE TO WEIGH IN. SORRY. THAT'S OFF TOPIC.

>> I LIKED IT.

>> YOU KNOW, ESPECIALLY WITH THE SCENE WITH JANE, I THOUGHT IT WAS SIMILAR TO THE RESTAURANT SCENE WITH ANNA AND EVEN IN THE END WHEN SHE'S TRYING NOT TO BE CONVICTED OF A CRIME, SHE SIMPLY COULDN'T BE FLEXIBLE. SHE ALSO COULDN'T HELP HERSELF AND SHE WOULD NOT TAKE BACK THAT GUT. WE ALL LEARN TO BE KIND OF LIKE, I DIDN'T LOVE IT. BUT I UNDERSTAND YOUR POINT. LEE COULDN'T DO THAT. SO SHE WOULD JUST MAYBE AT HER MOST VULNERABLE TIMES WHERE SHE NEEDED THOSE SKILL SETS TO BE LIKE, OKAY, WHAT CAN I DO? SHE JUST COULDN'T DO IT. I MEAN, THAT WAS PART OF THE STRUGGLE. IT WAS PART PERSONALITY, BUT ALSO PART JUST WASN'T WITHIN HER MAKEUP. SO SHE WAS LEFT COMPLETELY DESPERATE AND PUSHED INTO A CORNER. 52 TO BE A REALLY GREAT WRITER, AN AMAZING WRITER AND TO BE TOLD YOU'RE OBSOLETE. WHAT YOU DO IS NO LONGER VALID. THAT WAS HER SURVIVAL. IT WASN'T JUST HER PASSION, WHICH IT WAS. I COULDN'T HELP ALWAYS THINKING WHAT WOULD ANY OF US DO. IF I COULDN'T SURVIVE AND MY FAMILY, IN HER CASE, IT'S HER CAT. BUT IT STILL IS THE ONE BEING THAT SHE ASSOCIATES AND CAN GET AND GIVE LOVE TO. WHAT WOULD ANY OF US DO IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES?

>> YEAH. I MEAN, THAT'S ONE THING I LIKED ABOUT THE FILM AS WELL. WE RARELY SEE STORIES ABOUT PUBLISHED AUTHORS OR PEOPLE WORKING IN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY OF SOME KIND WHO ARE NOT WILDLY SUCCESSFUL. LOTS OF PEOPLE AROUND THE COUNTRY NOT IN THESE INDUSTRIES ASSUME IF YOU HAVE A BOOK ON THE SHELVES, YOU'RE DOING PRETTY WELL. YOU CAN HAVE MULTIPLE BOOKS ON THE SHELVES. THERE'S A WIDE GAP BETWEEN TOM CLANCY AS IN THIS AND A PUBLISHED AUTHOR. WE RARELY GET TO SEE THAT PERSPECTIVE OF WRITERS. RICHARD, YOU KNOW, YOUR CHARACTER ALSO HAS A DEFENSIVE MECHANISM WHICH IS SHEAR CONFIDENCE. HE'S ALWAYS CONFIDENT NO MATTER HOW DUMB THE THING HE'S DOING IS. HE'S NOT A VERY GOOD GRIFTER.

>> YEAH. YOU SAY THAT BUT I DISAGREE WITH YOU BECAUSE AT ONE POINT WHEN LEE IS RUMBLED BY THE FBI AND SHE CAN NO LONGER GO AND SELL THESE LETTERS THAT SHE'S WRITTEN SO BRILLIANTLY IMPERSONATING THESE WRITERS, GREAT WRITERS, SHE GETS HIM TO GO BECAUSE HE'S UNKNOWN TO THE FBI AT THIS POINT. SHE THINKS HE'LL MAYBE GET 500 BUCKS FOR A LETTER. HE COMES BACK WITH 2 GRAND. HE HAD SOME KIND OF TALENT FOR FLEECING PEOPLE AND CHARMING THEM. I TOOK GREAT INSPIRATION FROM THAT.

>> HE'S GOT THAT SALESMAN'S CONFIDENCE.

>> SALESMAN'S CONFIDENCE. I KNOW SOMEBODY I WAS IN COLLEGE WITH WHO STILL OWES ME MONEY 40 YEARS LATER, IF HE HAD TEN BUCKS IN HIS POCKET, HE'D TAKE YOU OUT FOR A DRINK AND SCAM ALL THE LOBSTERS AND GET OUT THE BACK OF THE RESTAURANT THROUGH THE KITCHEN. HE WANTED TO ENJOY HIS LIFE AT ALL TIMES. HE COULDN'T HOLD ON TO MONEY OR A JOB.

>> WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS LIKE FOR ENERGY? EACH TAKE, EACH SCENE THAT YOU'RE IN, YOUR CHARACTER HAS A WILD AMOUNT OF ENERGY AND STANDING UP STRAIGHT AND CONSISTENTLY SORT OF ALMOST LIKE THESE LONG, NOT MONOLOGUES, BUT THERE'S A LOT OF ENERGY IN EACH LINE YOU GIVE. YOU'RE A CALM, MILD MANNERED MAN RIGHT NOW.

>> THANK YOU. I THINK WHEN I SAW, I WAS SO GRATEFUL OF THE REHEARSAL DAY WITH MELISSA THAT SHE TALKED ABOUT ON THE FRIDAY BEFORE WE STARTED ON MONDAY. WHEN I SAW HER, HOW INTERIOR AND CLOSED AND TORTOISE-LIKE MELISSA WAS CHOSE TO PLAY HER ROLE, THEN IT SORT OF MEANS IF YOU'RE THE COMPLETE CONTRAST OF THAT, YOU HAVE TO PUMP IT OUT THERE BY COMPARISON. BECAUSE SHE'S MEETING EVERYTHING THAT YOU SAY ALMOST DEAD PAN. THAT MAKES IT FUNNY, I THINK.

>> DID SOMEONE TELL YOU THAT OR IS THAT ASSUMED? ONCE YOU SEE HER TYPE OF PERFORMANCE OR WHERE SHE'S GOING WITH THIS CHARACTER, THAT INFORMS YOUR CHOICE?

>> YOU DO IT BY OSMOSIS. YOU DO IT INSTINCTIVELY. YOU ASKING ME THAT QUESTION NOW, I'M TRYING TO FORMULATE A PROPER ANSWER. BUT I HONESTLY, HAVEN'T A CLUE REALLY.

>> DOLLY, YOU REFERENCED THE DINNER SCENE BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU. I DON'T WANT TO GIVE TOO MUCH AWAY FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM. THERE'S A SERIES OF RECOGNITIONS ON YOUR FACE WHERE YOU DON'T NECESSARILY SAY ANYTHING. BUT YOU HAVE UNDERSTOOD SOMETHING NEW ABOUT THIS CHARACTER AS SHE HAS KIND OF GONE INWARD IN THE MOMENT. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT CRAFTING THAT SCENE AND DOING THAT?

>> I THINK SORT OF LIKE RICHARD AND MELISSA, ONCE YOU START EXPLAINING IT, IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.

>> TELL US WHAT'S PURPLE TO YOU?

>> MY PURPLE. I THINK THE MAIN THING, I SUPPOSE, IT'S JUST LISTENING TO WHAT THE OTHER PERSON IS SAYING. IF YOU'VE GOT MELISSA PLAYING LEE IN THAT SORT OF BEAUTIFUL WAY WHERE YOU'VE GIVEN SO MUCH. BUT I DECIDED THAT ANNA WAS SOMEONE THAT WAS SORT OF EAGER TO PLEASE, VERY SWEET AND NERVOUS, BUT -- AND I HAVE BEEN IN THAT POSITION IN DIFFERENT WAYS A MILLION TIMES WHERE YOU FEEL THAT SOMETHING LOVELY IS HAPPENING AND THEN THAT DANCE OF EVERYTHING. ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS, FRIENDSHIPS, WORK, ANYTHING WHERE YOU CAN SEE THAT SOMEONE IS PULLING AWAY. I THINK THAT ANNA DOESN'T HAVE THE CONFIDENCE TO SAY, ARE YOU OKAY? YOU KNOW, SHE DID A LITTLE BIT. SHE COMES AT THE RESTAURANT. IT'S A FEELING. IT'S LIKE A DANCE AND IT STARTS SO WELL AND IT THEN, SHE’S BRIGHT AND INTELLIGENT AND LISTENING TO EVERYTHING THAT LEE IS SAYING AND LEE IS NOT GIVING HER -- OR SHE'LL GIVE HER A MOMENT. I SUPPOSE IT WAS JUST RESPONDING AND REACTING AS ENTERING THAT MOMENT OF FEELING REAL DISAPPOINTMENT BUT, YEAH, NOT WANTING IT TO BE SAPPY TO -- NOT TO SORT OF OVERLY PLAY IT, BUT JUST TO LISTEN AND RESPOND AS ANNA WOULD.

>> THAT'S A GREAT WAY TO PUT THE MOVIE. NOT OVERPLAYING IT. IT'S A SIMPLE MOVIE. IT'S HARD TO MAKE MOVIES THAT TRUTHFUL AND SUBTLE. WE KNOW THAT BECAUSE THEY RARELY COME OUT AND PEOPLE RARELY WANT TO FINANCE THEM. IT'S REALLY HARD TO GET THAT TONE.

>> I THINK ALSO, I MEAN, WE'RE ALL SAYING, MARI IS AN INCREDIBLE DIRECTOR. I THINK SHE HAS A REAL GIFT. EVEN IN HER FIRST FILM, DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, EVEN THOUGH IT'S BIGGER IN ASPECTS, THERE'S THE SAME BEAUTIFUL PERFORMANCE. LIKE A REAL GENTLE DELICATE, LETTING THINGS PLAY OUT. NOT NEEDING TO GO HIGHLIGHT ANYTHING. EVEN MORE IN THIS BECAUSE IT'S A SMALLER STORY. I THINK THAT SHE HAS A REAL, REAL GIFT. EVEN IN THAT RESTAURANT SCENE, I FELT NERVOUS FOR THAT REASON. I DIDN'T WANT IT TO BE -- I WANTED IT TO BE AN INTIMATE MOMENT WHERE IT'S JUST THEM IN THIS RESTAURANT AND LEE CAN LET HER GUARD DOWN AND THEY CAN HAVE THIS THING AND IT CAN BE LIKE A DANCE OR SOMETHING. I CAN REMEMBER THE DIRECTOR COMING OVER, KNEELING DOWN, TALKING QUIETLY ABOUT TINY NUANCES OF LIKE A NUDGE OR A SOMETHING THAT WOULD MAKE YOU THINK, YEAH, THAT'S HELPFUL. THERE WAS A MOOD THAT SHE CREATE THAD MADE YOU FEEL SAFE AND IT WAS EASY TO DO THAT.

>> DOES THAT EVER CROSS YOUR MIND WHEN YOU'RE DOING A PERFORMANCE LIKE THIS? DO YOU WORRY ABOUT WHAT'S READING TO THE AUDIENCE OR DO YOU JUST ALLOW THE DIRECTOR TO GUIDE YOU?

>> I THINK FOR ME, I TRY TO WORK THAT ALL OUT BEFOREHAND. I THINK IN THE SCRIPT, IF YOU FEEL LIKE THIS IS LEADING SOMEWHERE AND WHY ARE WE DOING THE SCENE? YOU HATE TO HAVE A SCENE AND AT THE END GO, YOU KNOW WE DON'T NEED THAT. YOU'RE MAKING CHANGES IN EDITING AND NOW YOU'RE CLIPPING SOMETHING OUT AND DOES IT WORK WHEN YOU GO FROM THIS SCENE TO THAT SCENE. DID I MAKE A STRANGE EMOTIONAL LEAP WHEN I SHOULDN'T HAVE. I TRY TO WORK THAT ALL OUT. SOMETIMES YOU WATCH IT BACK LATER AND YOU'RE LIKE THIS COULDN'T HAVE FELT MORE IMPORTANT TO ME AND I THINK YOU SHOULD CUT IT TOO. IT IS A CONSTANT FLUID MOVING CREATURE. BUT I THINK ONCE YOU GET TO ON THE DAY, YOU TRY TO BE AS PRESENT AND AS HONEST AS YOU CAN BE. IF YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO TRUST YOUR DIRECTOR, LIKE WE ALL DID IN THIS, YOU FELT GREAT, VERY STRONG GUIDANCE IN THE GENTLEST AND LIGHTEST WAY. I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE I HAD TO DO ANY OF THAT. I DIDN'T THINK I HAD TO MAN -- WHERE IS THE CAMERA? ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO PUT THAT LIGHT? I COULD JUST SIMPLY BE THERE AND I KNEW MARI WOULD COME IN LIKE THAT. IT'S A GREAT ABILITY TO BE ABLE TO DO -- IT SHOWS HOW COMPASSIONATE SHE IS AS A PERSON. THAT SHE REALIZES THESE STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE ARE IMPORTANT AND THEY'RE STRONG IN A DIFFERENT WAY. AND I CERTAINLY THINK THEY'RE IMPORTANT. AS AN AUDIENCE MEMBER AND AS SOMEONE WHO MAKES AND IS IN FILMS. I THINK IF WE STOP TELLING STORIES, WE LOSE OUR TETHER TO EACH OTHER. I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO WATCH A STORY ABOUT LONELY PEOPLE JUST TRYING TO BE SEEN BECAUSE IT MAKES EVERYONE WHO WATCH IT, I THINK, GO I FELT LIKE THAT. WHICH MEANS EVERYBODY FEELS LIKE THAT. I'M NOT ALONE. WE'RE ALL KIND OF IN THIS TOGETHER. IT SPREAD OUT THE SPIDER WEB, I THINK, IN A WAY THAT IS REALLY GOOD FOR PEOPLE TO SEE.

>> LET'S GET QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE. WHO HAS A QUESTION? RIGHT HERE.

>> MELISSA, MY QUESTION IS FOR YOU. HOW DIFFERENT IS FOR YOU PLAYING A CHARACTER IN REAL LIFE VERSUS CREATING AN ABBY YATES OR A BRIDESMAIDS?

>> THERE'S A DIFFERENT PRESSURE FOR SURE. BECAUSE YOU CAN'T JUST CONJURE IT ALL. THERE'S ALWAYS PARTS THAT YOU BRING TO IT THAT -- BUT THIS IS REALLY THE FIRST TIME I PLAYED A REAL LIFE PERSON. I DID SLIGHTLY DO IT SOMEONE IN A SKETCH. WE'RE NOT SURE THAT THAT PERSON IS REAL. BUT IT'S A PRESSURE OF, LIKE I HOPE I'M DOING RIGHT BY HER. ESPECIALLY WITH LEE, THERE WAS AN ADDED PRESSURE OF I LITERALLY WAS LIKE SOMETIMES, ARE YOU HATING THIS? DO YOU HATE EVERYTHING I'M DOING? YOU WANT TO DO RIGHT BY THAT PERSON AND TELL THEIR STORY. SHE WAS A TRICKY ONE TO RESEARCH. TRUE TO FORM FOR LEE, THERE'S NOT A LOT OUT THERE. SHE DIDN'T WANT PEOPLE IN HER BUSINESS.

>> SHE PASSED AWAY IN 2014, RIGHT? THE MOVIE HAD BEEN NOT IN DEVELOPMENT, BUT THERE WAS PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT MAKING A MOVIE BECAUSE THE MEMOIR CAME OUT IN 2007, RIGHT?

>> SOMEWHERE IN THERE, YEAH.

>> DO YOU KNOW IF SHE HAD SEEN A VERSION OF THE SCRIPT OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT BEFORE PASSING AWAY?

>> I DON'T THINK SO. SHE KNEW THAT THERE WAS A SCREEN PLAY BEING DONE. BUT I DON'T KNOW THAT SHE EVER READ IT OR WHAT SHE WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF IT.

>> WOULD SHE HAVE READ IT? NEXT QUESTION.

>> RIGHT THERE. MY QUESTION IS FOR MELISSA. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. ALL THE PRODUCTION THAT'S PUT INTO THIS. ACTUALLY, IT HAS TO DO WITH PLAGIARISM. I FEEL LIKE THE MOVIE TOUCHES A LITTLE BIT ON PLAGIARISM. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU GAINED FROM THIS PARTICULAR ROLE ABOUT LEE IN THAT FIELD? WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT PARTICULAR FIELD?

>> ABOUT PLAGIARISM? WELL, THERE'S A FUNNY THING. BECAUSE I FOUND MYSELF KIND OF CERTAINLY SEEING BOTH SIDES OF IT. I KNOW IT'S A CRIME. I KNOW IT WAS NOT THE RIGHT THING TO DO. AT THE SAME TIME, I THINK -- IT'S NOT THE WORST THING YOU COULD HAVE DONE. WHICH I KNOW IS TERRIBLE FOR EVERY PERSON THAT'S BEEN RIPPED OFF AND IT IS A BIG DEAL. I DO FEEL -- I'M PROBABLY NOT THE BEST PERSON BECAUSE I'M COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH LEE AND I WOULD DEFEND HER TO THE END. BUT I DO THINK, YOU KNOW, IT IS WHAT SHE DID. SHE HAD TO WORK THROUGH SOMEONE ELSE. I MEAN, FOR ME, I THINK I DO THE SAME THING. I CAN'T BE TOO JUDGMENTAL. I MAKE MY LIFE VIA OTHER PEOPLE. LIKE I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO -- I WOULDN'T KNOW HOW TO DO A PART THAT'S LIKE ME. I WOULD BE BORED OUT OF MY MIND. I WOULDN'T KNOW WHERE TO PUT MY HANDS. AWKWARD. I LOVE WHAT I DO. I SUPPORT MYSELF DOING THAT. I AM NOT THE BEST PERSON TO ASK DO I MIND THAT LEE WORKED VICARIOUSLY THROUGH SOMEONE ELSE. LOOK IN THE MIRROR. YEAH.

>> ALSO THE LAST PERSON THAT YOU PORTRAYED BASED ON A REAL PERSON PROBABLY COMMITTED WORSE CRIMES, TOO.

>> I AGREE WITH THAT.

>> NEXT QUESTION.

>> HI. THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE TODAY. MY QUESTION IS FOR MELISSA. YOU'RE ONE OF THE FUNNIEST ACTORS OUT THERE. MY QUESTION IS, HOW DID YOU BREAK INTO THE INDUSTRY AND CREATED THIS NEW ERA ESPECIALLY FOR YOUNG ACTRESSES AT A TIME WHERE THERE WAS A TIME WHERE MOST COMEDIC HEARTS WERE WRITTEN MOSTLY FOR MALE ACTORS MAYBE. NOW YOU'VE CREATED THIS WHOLE NEW ERA --

>> THANKS. I MEAN, I HAVE TO SAY I WATCHED JANE CURTAIN AND GILDA RADNER AND CAROL BURNETT AND MADELINE KAN. I ALWAYS FELT LIKE THEY PAVED THE WAY. WHERE ARE THOSE PARTS THAT I GREW UP WATCHING. I THINK I GOT INCREDIBLY LUCKY. I FOUND A PLACE CALLED THE GROUND LAKES THEATER IN L.A. WHERE IT WAS -- THERE WAS NO MEN DO THIS, WOMEN DO THIS. IT WAS SIMPLY, WORK AS HARD AS YOU CAN. THE WORK ETHIC AND THE TASK AT HAND WAS COMPETITIVE. PEOPLE WHO WANT TO DO WORK REALLY HARD. IT'S WHAT YOU PRODUCE. YOU WERE ENCOURAGED AND EXPECTED TO GENERATE. YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO GENERATE WRITING AND THEN CHARACTERS. THEY HAD TO BE -- THEY COULD BE AS ABSURD AS YOU WANTED BUT THEY HAD TO BE TETHERED TO REALITY. YOU HAD TO SOMEHOW STILL MAKE SENSE. YOU COULDN'T JUST PLAY ABSURD IS FOR THE SAKE OF IT. YOU HAD TO STILL MAKE A REAL SCENE. AND THEN I THINK, THE BIGGEST LUCKY STICKY GOT HIT WITH WAS TWO FEMALE FRIENDS OF MINE. KRISTEN WIIG WROTE BRIDESMAIDS. THEY WROTE A STORY THAT ALL OF US DIDN'T KNOW IF ANYONE WOULD GO SEE. WE FOUND IT FUNNY. WE THOUGHT, THIS IS WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING. CALLED ME IN FOR. WHICH NEVER EVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF THE TWO WOMEN HADN'T WRITTEN A STORY ABOUT REAL WOMEN. THE PEOPLE COMPLETELY UNDERESTIMATED THAT ANYONE WOULD GO TO SEE IT. AND I DON'T KNOW. I MEAN, THAT'S WHAT I THINK -- I WAS WORKING BEFORE THEN A LITTLE BIT. I HAD STANDING WORK. I THINK THAT WAS THE FIRST THING THAT ALLOWED ME TO -- THEY DIDN'T GIVE ME A PART I DIDN'T RELATE TO. THEY GAVE ME A BIG JUICY PART AND SAID BE WEIRDER, DO WHAT YOU WANT? I WAS LIKE, REALLY? OKAY. I MEAN, THAT'S THE GIFT OF HAVING SOMEBODY AT THE HELM THAT GOES DO YOUR BEST INSTEAD OF LIKE, I KNOW THE RIGHT THING TO DO. THERE'S A BIG DIFFERENCE. EVERYBODY KIND OF CAME UP IN THAT. IT WAS A BLAST ON TOP OF ALL THAT. I HOPE THAT ANSWERED YOUR QUESTION.

>> I HAVE TIME FOR ONE MORE.

>> THIS QUESTION IS FOR EVERYBODY UP THERE. HOW TIMELY IS THIS MOVIE, GIVEN IN THE TIME WE LIVE, FAKE NEWS, PEOPLE GETTING LIFETIME APPOINTMENTS BASED ON DECEPTION. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. THIS IS, AGAIN, FOR EVERYBODY TO ANSWER. HOW TIMELY DO YOU THINK THIS MOVIE IS GIVEN ALL OF THAT?

>> NOT REALLY.

>> I THINK WHAT YOU'VE BROUGHT UP IS SOMEBODY CAN BE APPOINTED TO THE SENATE FOR IN A JUDICIARY WITH A LIFETIME JOB WITH THREE CHARGES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT THEIR DOOR. YOU THINK THAT WOULD DISQUALIFY. OR IF THEY WOULD SAY I COUNT MYSELF OUT OF THIS. I THINK WHAT MELISSA SAID ARTICULATELY IS THAT LEE BECAME A FORGER OF PEOPLE'S GREAT DEAD WRITER'S WORK. SO NOBODY WAS HURT IN THE PROCESS APART FROM THE PEOPLE THAT SOLD THE AUTOGRAPHS OR SOLD ON THE LETTERS. WE MET JUDGE JUDY AT THE PREMIERE. I SAID TO HER AS YOU DO, WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF LEE ISRAEL WAS BEFORE YOU? SHE SAID I WOULD HAVE GIVEN HER A LIGHT FINE. I SAID WHY? BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T KILL ANYBODY. THE PEOPLE DEALING IN MEMORABILIA, MIGHT BE DODGY IN THE FIRST PLACE -- SHE WAS SMART ENOUGH TO OUT DODGE THE DODGERS. THAT WAS JUDGE JUDY.

>> THANK YOU FOR THAT.

>> DID SHE HAMMER A GAVEL FOR THE NEXT CONVERSATION.

>> SHE DID.

>> SHE WAS IN A ROBE, GUYS.

>> EVERY CONVERSATION WITH HER ENDS WITH NEXT.

>> THAT'S AMAZING.

>> I LOVE THE FILM. CONGRATULATIONS. INCREDIBLE WORK ALL AROUND! BEAUTIFUL PERFORMANCES ALL AROUND. GO SEE IT IN THE THEATERS. IT OPENS FRIDAY EVERYWHERE I THINK. EVERYBODY CAN GO SEE IT?

>> IT'S LIMITED BUT IT WILL GROW. WITH YOUR LOVE IT WILL GROW.

>> “CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?” GO, GO, GO SEE IT AND GIVE THEM A BIG ROUND OF APPLAUSE.

>> THANK YOU. [ APPLAUSE ]

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