It takes a talented actress to be able to hold her own against the likes of comedy heavyweights like Oscar nominees Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. That exactly what actress Mia Rose Frampton did in the 2011 comedy hit “Bridesmaids” when lead actress/co-screenwriter Wiig exchanged cruel barbs with her during a heated scene in a jewelry store that ended with the former Saturday Night Live star dropping the C-bomb on Frampton’s feisty character.
Now, in the new comedy “Tammy,” Frampton goes one-on-one with McCarthy, the title character who goes on a road trip misadventure with her heavy-drinking grandmother (Susan Sarandon). In the film, Frampton plays Karen, a character she describes as “very physical and not so nice.” Frampton can be seen in the film’s trailer when a young blonde aggressively jumps on Tammy’s back and goes for a ride.
During an interview with me last month to talk “Tammy,” Frampton, who is the daughter of English rock musician Peter Frampton, discussed getting physical with McCarthy in her new film, her love for the comedy genre and why she feels she is tough enough for an industry like Hollywood.
We saw Melissa McCarthy get physical with Kristen Wiig in “Bridesmaids” during one scene. What was it like to do the same with Melissa in “Tammy?”
Oh my God! I was so sore the next day. It was so much fun. I had never been in a physical scene like that. When I was on [TV’s] “Make It or Break It,” I had a physical role because I was playing a gymnast, but it was usually just me jumping on a ball or something. I wasn’t jumping on someone else’s back. [Melissa] wears a wig in the movie, so I had to make sure I didn’t pull on it. I sort of had to hold onto her without really holding onto her. It was so hard to stay on her as she was spinning me. It was hard not to touch that wig!
If you were sore the next morning, I can only imagine how Melissa felt if you had to keep jumping on her back.
(Laughs) Oh, I know! Her poor back! She probably had to ice it or something.
I know you don’t have any scenes with Melissa in “Bridesmaids,” but I’m assuming you met her during production sometime. Is that how you landed this role?
You know, people think I knew her, but I had never met her until the premiere [of “Bridesmaids”]. When I went into audition for “Tammy,” it was with her and some of the producers and [director] Ben Falcone, who is married to Melissa and the guiding light of the movie. Melissa is a comedic genius, so they work perfectly together. So, we did the scene once and I said thank you and left. I was walking to my car and someone actually ran after me and was like, “Come back! They want you to do it again!” When I went in again, they said, “We just want you to be meaner.” I was like, “I can do that. I can be as mean as you want!” I got to improv with Melissa in another room and she was just so much fun. It was so hard not to laugh while auditioning. I left the room smiling. I was lucky enough that she chose me.
Other than being a talented actress, where did you pull that meanness from?
(Laughs) Oh, well, when I act I don’t really pull anything from my real life. It doesn’t seem authentic to me. So, I really just have to get into the character and think about how the character would feel in that mindset and scene. I just have to be the character. I’m not a method actor or anything like that, but I feel I’m at my best when I truly feel I am the character and feel what she would feel and say what she would say. I love improv and I feel that stuff comes out when you are in character like that.
Can you talk about the dynamic on the set of a movie like “Tammy” where you have a husband directing his wife in the lead role? Is it all business or do the spouse claws come out at times?
(Laughs) No, they honestly seem like best friends. We shot in this area where there was this weird, huge stuffed bear. It was a real stuffed bear and it was dressed like a fisherman. It had on a fishing outfit and was holding a fishing pole. In between takes we would take selfies with it. It was like playing on a playground.
How comfortable do you feel in the comedy genre now that you have “Bridesmaids” and “Tammy” on your resume? Has it come natural for you or are you learning as you go?
I started doing improv when I first moved to Los Angeles. I took a Second City summer course. My mom was like, “You can do this. I think you would like this.” It really was the best thing ever. I had so much fun. I love to make people laugh. I love comedy, but I would also love to dive into drama. I hope my next role could be a dramatic one.
Did you realize during your scene in “Bridesmaids” that you were reading from a script that would eventually be nominated for an Oscar?
You know, I was watching the Oscars that year and they chose my scene [to show during the rundown of the nominees]. I had no idea they were going to do that. I mean, all my idols were in that room from Meryl Streep to Jennifer Lawrence watching my scene! I screamed at the top of my lungs! I was like, “Oh my God! They’re playing my scene!” It was just crazy. I’m not going to lie. I sobbed a little. I text everyone. I Tweeted. I was on Cloud Nine.
Talk about your scene in “Bridesmaids.” What kind of mindset do you have to be in when Kristen calls you the C-word?
(Laughs) Well, you can’t laugh. It was so hard for both of us not to laugh. I was also playing a character that, in real life, I’m totally not – a beret-wearing B-I-T-C-H. You just can’t take those things personally, obviously, or you’re not made for this business. My mom was there and she was dying of laughter. Kristen said other not-as-bad words [as the C-word], but she also said even worse things. But they decided to use that one.
I read in another interview you did that you have a 90-year-old grandmother. What would a road trip with her be like if it was just the two of you?
It would be amazing. If I were in Ohio, I would be hanging out with her right now. I would love to just pick her brain. I sort of do something similar every year. Me and my family go on a trip together to this lake in Tennessee and we just hang out and get into crazy adventures and go cliff diving and jet skiing. I would love to sit down with my grandmother and just talk about her life. She had eight kids, so she’s had an amazing life. I’m sure we would go somewhere in nature and talk about everything.
I know you’re going to be going to Chapman University in the fall and majoring in theater. I think most people majoring in theater would probably want to have some of your credits on their resumes. Talk a bit about going to school. How do you think getting a degree is going to help you in your career as an actress?
I’m majoring in theater because I feel you can never be a perfect actress. You have to keep it fresh. You have to keep your skills and your talented updated. As you become older, your style of acting changes. Who you are as a person changes. I’ve only done some theater. I was Annie in “Annie” and that was the best day of my life. I loved theater, but once I moved to L.A. I didn’t do it anymore. I wanted to dive into the film and television world. I sort of let the theater side of me go. So, I’m excited to reawaken that part of my acting. I definitely feel I should tap into that side of my acting again. I’d also like to look into trying the film school at Chapman. I’d love to do a year of theater and then maybe explore directing and screenwriting. I’m trying to keep my options open. I love all aspects of the business and want to become familiar with all of it.
Do you plan on still going to auditions as they come or are you taking time off to concentrate just on school?
Well, Orange County, with traffic, is only about two hours away. I chose Chapman because it’s so close and I still want to audition. I couldn’t not audition. Acting is my life, so I’m not going to let that go at all. So, I’ll keep auditioning and finding that next role.
Have you experienced the cutthroat nature of the industry yet, maybe during an audition?
Definitely. They say this business isn’t for the faint of heart and they really mean it. Rejection can be heartbreaking. You can get committed to a role or involved in a role and think it is perfect for you, and then it doesn’t go anywhere. You just have to have the mindset that if it’s not this one, it’ll be the next one. I’ve learned you have to let things go. That’s the main thing. I’m not saying I’m great at it. It’s really difficult. When you care so much about something, it’s hard to let things go. You just have to learn how to do it or it will take over your life.
Has your father given you any words of wisdom now that you are in the entertainment industry like he was? Is he happy that you’re in the thick of it?
I mean, he loves seeing me play guitar. He loves that some of him has rubbed off on me. But he’s conflicted, too, because he knows about the heartbreak. He sees how upset I can get if I don’t get a role. But he is my biggest cheerleader along with my mom. He just tells me to stick with it because there is going to be peaks and valleys in everyone’s career. You just have to roll with it. That’s what he’s instilled in me. Just like him, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. That’s how I know it’s worth it.