‘The Starling’: Ted Melfi on How Opening Scene With Melissa McCarthy Was Shot From Across the Globe (Video)

TIFF 2021: “It worked great, but let’s not get used to this,” the actress adds

In the opening scene of “The Starling,” Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd play a married couple who are painting the nursery for their newborn daughter. You wouldn’t know it, but the two actors were actually across the globe from each other filming this over Zoom.

“Melissa was in Australia shooting ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ and Chris was in Los Angeles,” Melfi told TheWrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven during a virtual interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. “I was like, I don’t know how I’m going to pull this off. We shot Chris on the set, we built the room out and shot with a stand-in and then sent that footage to Melissa… then she had a day off on ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ and we made it all happen.”

“There are one or two [other scenes] in the grocery store,” McCarthy added. “I’ve talked to inanimate objects before, looked at tennis balls, but not where we’re actually in the scene but we’re not there. It worked great, but let’s not get used to this. I like everybody in the same room!”

In “The Starling,” McCarthy plays Lilly, who after the loss of her baby daughter retreats to her quiet home, where a combative Starling taunts her. But as she battles with the bird, she begins to reevaluate her life and rediscovers her will to live. Timothy Olyphant and Skyler Gisondo also star. Matt Harris wrote the script.

“I ran into the script about five years ago… I read it and fell in love with it instantly,” Melfi said. “And then I got busy, I went and did ‘Hidden Figures,’ but I always thought about this. I just kept thinking about it.”

He added: “We read it and we discussed what to do with it, and it didn’t sit with me that the male was still the lead and the female wasn’t, so we said, let’s switch it so Lilly’s character was strong and holding the fort down and Jack’s character was looking for a way to figure out his life. And that’s when we thought about Melissa.”

McCarthy said she was drawn to the script bizarrely fast and didn’t even think twice about wanting to do the movie.

“Anything that Ted is excited about I immediately think, his taste level is wonderful, I love what he writes, and I thought, if he really loves a script that someone else wrote, that’s unusual for him,” she said. “I kept trying to say yes before I read it and he said, ‘I think you should read it’ and I’m like ‘OK, I’ll do it’ and he said, ‘You’re doing this terribly…’ He then said, ‘We have two minutes to make this movie, do you want do it, I really love it, flip the parts, read it and call me back,’ and I said, ‘I’ll do that and I’ll do the movie.”

Watch the video above.