Melissa McCarthy is breaking her silence about Rex Reed, the New York Observer critic who described her as "tractor-sized" when he reviewed her No. 1 comedy Identity Thief in February. Though many other stars came to the actress' defense, the 42-year-old had not publicly addressed Rex's cruel comments until a June 13 interview with The New York Times.
In his scathing and widely reviled critique, Reed called Bridesmaids' breakout star "a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success." In a soft voice, McCarthy said her initial reaction to the piece was "Really?" She then asked, "Why would someone O.K. that?"
Taking the high road, McCarthy added, "I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that's someone who's in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs."
Had this occurred when she was 20, McCarthy said, "it may have crushed me." But now that she's raising daughters Vivian, 6, and Georgette, 3, in "a strange epidemic of body image and body dysmorphia," she said reviews like Reed's "just add to all those younger girls, that are not in a place in their life where they can say, 'That doesn’t reflect on me.'"
"That makes it more true," said McCarthy, married to actor Ben Falcone since 2005. "It means you don’t actually look good enough."
The pressure is on for McCarthy to deliver when The Heat (costarring Sandra Bullock) hits theaters June 28. Given their strong fan base, however, it's likely that the buddy-cop comedy will perform well at the box office. And if it doesn't, McCarthy told The New York Times, she's O.K. with that. "I've been trying to play old-lady parts since I was in my 20s," she said, "so I look forward to all of that."