When it comes to the top comedy directors, Paul Feig's career took off when he first teamed up with Melissa McCarthy for "Bridesmaids." The actress got an Oscar nom and they decided to keep working together for 2013's "The Heat" and now "Spy," an action-comedy in which McCarthy plays a CIA desk jockey who is suddenly thrown into the field.
"The irony was that I didn't think she was going to be available to do it," Feig says. "I was in post-production on 'The Heat' when I thought of the idea. After I finished the script, Melissa was at my house for dinner and she asked if she could read it. She called me the next day and said, 'I have to do this.' The irony was that I didn't really have to change the bones of the character or the script at all. I think I always had her in mind while I was writing it."
Feig says that he thinks he and McCarthy have a "very similar sense of humor."
"We both are very united in what we think is funny and what we think makes a movie work better and that's how to ground the character and make it three-dimensional and give it emotional life," he says.
Their recent movies have forced McCarthy to get physical, including a rather violent knife fight in "Spy" for which she had to train. Meanwhile, action star Jason Statham and others in the cast were challenged by the duo's tendency to improvise on set.
"It was a learning experience for them, but one they really enjoyed," Feig says. "Most stale comedies come from people that don't take advantage of that energy that's happening on the set."
Feig is a self-proclaimed analogy machine when it comes to comedy, comparing jokes you regret laughing at to a "greasy cheeseburger."
"My job as a director is to get you to love these people so that any foibles they do, you still think they're funny," he says. "Where a lot of comedies fall apart is that they're all about the jokes, which is great, but that won't carry an audience through."
Feig and McCarthy will be working together yet again on a twist on "Ghostbusters" co-starring Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Although it takes place in New York, they'll be shooting a lot of the interiors in Boston.
"I love the first movie, so as much fear as there is from some of the 'Ghostbusters' fans, I think they'll be happy," Feig says. "The curse of the Internet is that everyone prejudges things before they even know what it is, which is fine. That's everybody's right."
If Feig wasn't busy enough, he's been producing Fox's upcoming animated "Peanuts" movie (out in November), he created the series "Other Space" for Yahoo! Screen and is developing a claymation movie based on Hasbro's popular "Play-Doh."