Melissa McCarthy is one of the biggest comedy stars on the planet, and has recently stepped into the shoes—or should that be tentacles?—of an iconic movie villain, Ursula the sea witch, in Disney’s remake of The Little Mermaid. But even she gets daunted by the prospect of following in someone else’s footsteps.
During a conversation in an episode of Hot Ones, McCarthy recalled one of her stints as a host on Saturday Night Live, and the “craziest” thing to ever happen to her on the show, which happened while she was playing a character made famous by the late comedian Chris Farley, who died in 1997.
“I was doing Chris Farley’s ‘down by the river’ guy,” she said.
“I got so nervous, like, I can’t do what he did, and I didn’t want to make fun of it, I didn’t want to do a bad job.”
The Spy star went on to describe how, just before she went on to join Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Jane Curtin on stage, she was overcome by nerves and began to shake uncontrollably.
“The sweet stage manager came up and he grabbed my legs and he goes, honey are you OK? And I’ve never had this happen, my knees were buckling… I was not physically in control of my body in any way, and I’m about to go live as somebody that I really hold in such high regard, with three icons to me.”
“And then I was like, steam train. I can’t let him down,” she continued. “And then I did it, but I truly didn’t know if my legs were going to work. I don’t know where I am in the galaxy… I truly felt out of body.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.