Watch: Melissa McCarthy on How “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Spotlights Ageist, Sexist Attitudes Toward Women

In a stunning shift from comedy, McCarthy stars as noted writer turned literary forger Lee Israel in the drama, out Friday.

In the Marielle Heller-directed Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Oscar-nominated comedian Melissa McCarthy hangs up her funny hat and branches into drama to play Lee Israel, a prickly lesbian New York author down on her luck who resorted to forging letters by well-known writers to pay her bills.

While the unbelievably true story is full of suspense, it’s the unexpected, heartfelt connection Israel makes with her unlikely partner in crime, out-and-proud Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), that puts powerful feelings of loneliness and insecurity from a uniquely female point of view center stage, thanks to the majority female cast and crew.


“Just for starters, it’s co-written by a woman, directed by a woman, the lead character is a woman, the crew is mostly female,” Grant told NewNowNext. “[The movie illustrates] you can have a leading female character that doesn’t look groomed to perfection and still care about them, and I think that’s something in itself to be celebrated.”

In the context of the #MeToo movement, and ahead of the anniversary of the Time’s Up initiative, McCarthy believes the film still speaks to today’s cultural climate.

“[Israel] is a 52-year-old woman, she’s a hell of a writer…and she’s told she’s obsolete,” McCarthy said. “A woman of a certain age being told they’re no longer relevant or needed, that unfortunately is something that’s very current.”

Can You Ever Forgive Me? opens October 19.

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie and pop diva addict living in Manhattan. Follow him on everything @dirrtykingofpop.