In her new movie Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Melissa McCarthy plays the late Lee Israel, a writer who sold forged letters from the literary elite after her career began to stall in the early ’90s. Though Israel, who pleaded guilty to the crime in 1993 and was sentenced to six months of house arrest and five years of probation, isn’t exactly a typical role model, McCarthy was inspired by a side of the character — and saw a valuable lesson to pass along to her two daughters (with husband of 13 years Ben Falcone), 11-year-old Vivian and 8-year-old Georgette.
“She didn’t need you to like her,” McCarthy, 48, says of Israel, in the new issue of Us Weekly. “She was fine as she was, and that’s a huge takeaway. I was glad for the reminder. I tell my kids all the time, like, you are the one that determines your self-worth. Not what other people think of you.”
McCarthy finds the tough message especially important to pass on these days. “I think we do so much now of, ‘What do you think of me?’ ‘Look at my vacation, do you like it?’” the actress tells Us. “The thing about Lee is, even though [ignoring what others thought of her] made things much more difficult for her, she didn’t care.”
Her mission is nothing new. In 2016, McCarthy told Us she teaches her daughters to “just say thank you” when someone compliments them. “I hope it’s one of many ways that I kind of show my girls that it’s OK to like who you are. It’s OK that everybody’s different. You’re also not supposed to be the same. I always say, if we were all the same to my girls, we would all be robots.”
For more on McCarthy’s new role and how she’s raising her girls, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.
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