There’s nothing funny about Melissa McCarthy in her new movie Can You Ever Forgive Me? And that’s exactly how she wants it. In the downbeat biopic — hitting theaters on Oct. 19 — Melissa delivers a dramatic tour de force as the late Lee Israel, a recluse who fooled the literary world in the ’80s by forging letters from legendary scribes. 

“It’s important to show women who are complicated, prickly, brilliant, and unapologetic,” Melissa, 48, exclusively told Closer Weekly at the movie’s recent Toronto International Film Festival premiere. “That’s not something we get to see very often.” 

She’s best known, of course, for outrageous comedies like Spy and The Heat, but before finding fame, “I did 10 years of dramatic plays in New York, so I’ve always gone back and forth,” she told Closer in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. 

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The misanthropic Israel couldn’t be further from the real Melissa, however. “She’s mirthful, jolly, encouraging, inclusive, and lovely,” raved British actress Dolly Wells, who plays her love interest in the film. “We laughed a lot.”

Melissa earned a supporting actress Oscar nomination for her breakout turn in 2011’s Bridesmaids, and she could win best actress for Can You Ever Forgive Me? “I’m sure she’ll be nominated because she’s extraordinary in it,” Richard E. Grant, who may snag a supporting nod as her wickedly witty co-conspirator, told Closer

A mom of two preteen girls, Melissa is proud of the film’s unique point of view. “We can’t all tell the same stories from one perspective because it’s not interesting or real,” she said. “It doesn’t reflect our own world back to us, and that’s really important to me.” 

Watch the Can You Ever Forgive Me? trailer below!

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