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In her recent drama The Starling, Melissa McCarthy plays a grocery store clerk engulfed in grief after the death of her young daughter – a tragedy that's lingering traumatic effects have landed her art teacher husband (Chris O'Dowd) in a psychiatric hospital.
In Matt Harris's original script for the film, which was circulating around Hollywood for years after landing on the Black List for best unproduced screenplays in 2005, McCarthy’s main character was a man whose wife was institutionalized.
The Starling's gender-flipping calls to mind another project McCarthy was involved with in recent years — 2016’s Ghostbusters, which famously rebooted the beloved action-comedy series with four female leads, also including Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Though the Paul Feig-directed film was generally well-received by critics and still has a strong following, it notoriously became a flash point for toxic fandom, with angry and oftentimes blatantly sexist fans of the original films angrily railing against it and bullying its co-star Jones off of social media with racist attacks.
Five years later and in the lead-up to a new Ghostbusters release (next week's sequel Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which reportedly ignores the events of the 2016 film) McCarthy reflected on the vitriol their film received in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment.
"There's no end to stories we can tell, and there's so many reboots and relaunches and different interpretations, and to say any of them are wrong, I just don’t get it," McCarthy told us (watch above).
“I don't get the fight to see who can be the most negative and the most hate-filled. Everybody should be able to tell the story they want to tell. If you don't want to see it, you don't have to see it."
McCarthy is proud of the approach The Starling director Ted Melfi (Hidden Figures) took in recognizing how and why the film's parental roles could be reversed.
"This one was a wonderful switch," she says. "This was Ted's idea. He said when he read it, he was raised by a single mother, he was like, 'I didn't buy the woman falling apart. In his life, it's always been the females that have kind of kept it together and kept trudging.
"I also think a man could be vulnerable and broken in a way that we've not traditionally seen."
The Starling is now streaming on Netflix.
Watch the trailer:
-Video produced by Stacy Jackman and edited by Luis Saenz