Melissa McCarthy says she looked to a long line of not-so-nice women for motivation ahead of tackling her new role in The Boss, and she’s not apologizing for admiring qualities that might put other people off.
In the latest edition of The Jess Cagle Interview, PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle chats with the Oscar-nominated actress about her affinity for strong, unapologetically in-charge women, many of whom inspired her transformation into Michelle Darnell, the overbearing business-executive-turned-convicted-felon from the Universal comedy.
“I love that kind of woman,” McCarthy says of powerful, confident women like the “Queen of Mean,” Leona Helmsley, who the actress says laid the foundation for her character in The Boss. “The whole thing of if a man does that, they’re a genius, but if a woman does it, it’s like, ‘What a b—- … there’s something really amazing to that kind of energy.”
Cagle also asked McCarthy about her real-life ventures as a woman in charge, as she’s executive produced both Tammy and The Boss in addition to running a clothing line, Seven7.
“I hope I’m a good boss. I think I’m a really collaborative boss. I don’t belive in my way or the highway; it’s not how we make movies,” McCarthy tells Cagle of her creative process. “If I hire someone, I hire you because I want your ideas. I want to know what you’re thinking and I want to hear your opinion… I’m not that fragile. I want input.”
But just because she’s a cooperative team player doesn’t mean she lets her employees get away with anything. Note to future McCarthy empire collaborators: don’t be late.
“That makes me crazy. I am never late. I would fire you on the spot,” she joked. “Any time someone’s late, they’re also the person who, for the first 20 minutes they show up, they’re like ‘Oh my God, I haven’t even had coffee.’ Not only are you a half-hour late, but now the first half-hour is you spitting out about being late. There’s a thing called an alarm clock, guys. If you can’t be on time, I doubt I’d really trust you with bigger things.”
Listen to McCarthy dish more on the powerful women who inspire her in the video above, and check out the full interview below.
The Boss, starring McCarthy, Kristen Bell, and Peter Dinklage and directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, is in theaters now.