Melissa McCarthy Is About to Have a Really Big Year

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Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Melissa McCarthy, best supporting actress nominee for her role in "Bridesmaids", arrives at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012.

Here’s hoping you find Melissa McCarthy, of Bridesmaids fame, the funniest woman in movies right now. Because if you plan on watching a big-name comedy in the year, chances are you’re going to see plenty of her.

McCarthy seems to have exploded onto the scene in recent years, but she’s been pursuing a career in comedy for nearly 20 years. Raised near Chicago, McCarthy performed stand-up across the country while simultaneously acting in Los Angeles. She landed a variety of small roles before she spent seven years as Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls. A steady stream of comedy performances followed, and McCarthy won an Emmy for her work on the television show Mike & Molly in 2010. She earned herself an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids in 2012, propelling her to the next echelon of cinematic stardom.

The trailer for her first leading role, opposite Jason Bateman, in Identity Thief debuted last week in plenty of time to prep your laugh track for the movie’s February 2013 release. The two-plus minutes of comedy serves as a precursor to all the McCarthy we will get from now until spring.

(MORE: Melissa McCarthy: Hilarious Performance, Not Oscar Worthy)

The television star turned comedic-movie-must-have knocks the snot out of Bateman—physically pounding him at every opportunity—while he tries to bring her to justice for stealing his identity in Identity Thief. But first McCarthy will make appearances in three other high-profile films hitting theaters between December 2012 and Spring 2013.

It all kicks off on Dec. 19 when McCarthy joins the cast of Judd Apatow’s This is 40, a growing-old comedy starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, who are trying to make changes to their lives. McCarthy plays a confrontational parent engaged in a heated discussion with Rudd’s character.

In April McCarthy stars alongside Sandra Bullock in the Paul Feig-directed comedy The Heat, featuring two law enforcement officials who partner in a quest to bring down a Russian mob boss.

And McCarthy is rumored to make a cameo in The Hangover Part III, set for a late May release. But don’t expect that to be the end of McCarthy. That would leave too many laughs on the table.

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