NEW YORK (AP) — "There's the Mooch," says Ben Falcone brightly as his wife, Melissa McCarthy, enters the room.
It's a term of endearment, a long-used nickname between the two who have been paired in love and comedy since they were aspiring performers at the Groundlings, the Los Angeles improv school. Their long partnership reaches a professional crescendo Friday with the release of "Tammy," a road trip comedy they wrote together that McCarthy stars in and Falcone directs.
McCarthy and Falcone, who married in 2005 and have two daughters, are incredibly sweet together — riffing easily and warmly complimenting each other — but you wouldn't know their marital harmony from their movies. Their on-screen relationship is far more combustible.
Falcone was the undercover air marshal in McCarthy's breakout, "Bridesmaids," and he played McCarthy's clingy former lover in "The Heat." In "Tammy," she hurls put-downs and ketchup packets at him after Falcone, playing her boss, fires her from a fast food joint.
"Tammy" was born when Falcone woke up one morning, groggy from a dream envisioning McCarthy and her alcoholic grandmother (played by Susan Sarandon) embarking on a journey away from their small Illinois town. After six years of working on it (and buoyed by McCarthy's now considerable box-office clout), their personal little comedy (both are from Illinois) is opening in the heart of summer blockbuster season.
AP: Melissa, you went to college in Ben's hometown, Carbondale, Illinois. Did you ever meet there?
Falcone: I knew who she was. She went through a Goth phase.
McCarthy: I didn't know it but he said we were at the same parties together — which I just find the most bizarre thing. It wasn't until 10 years later that we met.
Falcone: After a year of being friends, we started putting it together. She had blue hair and clown makeup.