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Who Ya Gonna Call?
By ZON D’AMOUR, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Published July 13, 2016

Thirty years after “Ghostbusters” became a cult classic, Four of the funniest comediennes in Hollywood: Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon were tasked with rebooting the film for a new generation. The new 3D Sci-Fi comedy is already one of the most anticipated films of the summer. In the midst of a whirlwind press tour for the film, McCarthy and Jones get candid about having a relentless work ethic, handling constructive criticism and creating their own opportunities.

ghostbusters-1

“Ghostbusters” cast (l-to-r) Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon

 

LAS: Leslie, you’ve been a friend of Chris Rock’s for years but only recently were you deemed “ready” to be a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). What’s your advice for other actors and comedians on having patience when they feel ready but their career doesn’t seem to be taking off?

Leslie Jones: The way I would describe this moment is the film “Punchline” with Tom Hanks. There’s a part in the movie where his character is told, ‘you’ll be good next year’ and he was like ‘No! I need to make it right now. I have no money!’. And that’s the exact feeling that I had most of the time until I realized that I wasn’t at the level of comedy that I’m on now. I’m so glad that they said I wasn’t ready because I’m a beast now. [Chris Rock] was right…Keenan Thompson also said, a lot of black female comedians that go and audition for SNL are not ready. When I met Sasheer Zamata (“SNL”), I knew instantly that they were going to pick her because she was ready. Being a stand up comedian and doing sketch comedy are two completely different art forms and I had to learn that. I met people like Kate McKinnon and Taran Killam (“SNL”) and they were beasts, it made me sit my ass down, I had to have several seats and take some notes. Doing sketches, you have to build the situation, you have the joke but the joke has to have roots; it has to have a room and costumes.

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When I’m doing stand up, it’s just me. So in that sense, I wasn’t ready. When I started doing comedy, I told myself I’m not going to do it unless I’m the best so you take that constructive criticism and say ‘I’m not the best…yet’.

LAS: Is there any pressure to always be ‘on’ and to always be funny? Are you intertwined with your career as a comedienne or do you have to maintain two separate personas?

LJ: I’m intertwined with comedy. I don’t separate myself from it because I am what it is. I want to be that entity so it’s very rare that I’m not funny.

LAS: You’ve been acting for over two decades and now you’re really seeing the fruits of your labor; you’re everywhere but I’m sure some people think you’re an overnight success! What’s your advice for other actors and comedians on having patience when they feel ready but their career doesn’t seem to be taking off?

Melissa McCarthy: Put yourself on. Develop your own work. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short film, a play, a script, etc. it doesn’t matter, if you want it, you need to create it. You need to be able to motivate yourself when no one else will and you need to be able to believe in yourself so you can keep getting better.

Keep watching other people, keep learning and constantly be a sponge for taking in good and bad. Work hard and keep the ‘poor me’ out of it. If I had never gotten a real job doing this, I’d still be doing shows and putting up plays. It was a choice, I had a talk with myself [and decided] I’ll do it even if no one else wants me to do it for them.

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LAS: You’re not only an actress, you’re also a writer and producer. When you go into pitch meetings and your idea isn’t well received, how do you handle the critiques?

MM: I love criticism. You’re going to try 50,000 things and 49,000 are going to bomb. So I’m not precious about anything. If someone doesn’t like something, I wonder why? Is it not clear? Is it not funny? Whatever it is, I may not always agree in the end but I think anytime you get criticism, you have to think, ‘is someone giving me the best ‘no’ that could make my thing better? I just try to always be open that someone may be handing me a gift and you don’t want to let ego get in the way of that.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (5754112bs) Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon 'Ghostbusters' film premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Jul 2016

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (5754112bs)
Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon
‘Ghostbusters’ film premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA – 09 Jul 2016

Categories: Entertainment | Movies

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