Melissa McCarthy's 13 Greatest Wigs, Ranked

Rarely does a Melissa McCarthy character actually look like Melissa McCarthy. The comedian likes to disappear into a role. She changes her body language and dons wacky clothing. Often, a defining element of her character is what's on her head. Yes, McCarthy has a thing for wigs.

Back in summer 2015, upon the release of Spy, McCarthy spoke about her process with People. When she gets a script, she instantly gets an idea of her character's look. Then, she said, "I go immediately to a wig store and I try on a million things."

But McCarthy's obsession with wigs started long before her star rose to astronomical heights. In a 2008 TVGuide.com interview related to her role on Samantha Who?, McCarthy revealed she personally has "like, 100 wigs." She elaborated that they were for her work with legendary improv theater The Groundlings. "I wear them on-stage, and they're all mostly hideous," she said. "Bad short perm wigs, some mullets in there. Mostly it's the 55- to 60-year-old Midwestern woman hairdo. I have a strange amount of those!"

In The Boss, out Friday, McCarthy debuts another wig, this one on the head of Michelle Darnell, a character born out of her work with The Groundlings. Michelle's an incredibly wealthy business women who is brought down by a white-collar crime. She's a redhead.

In honor of McCarthy's excellent fake follicles, we've decided to tally up her best wigs. Our highly unscientific ranking formula has to do with how much the wigs make us laugh and how appropriate we think they are for the character underneath them.
Advertisement
1 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Diana In Identity Thief (2013)
Toward the end of Identity Thief, McCarthy's zany character trades in her red curls for this more subdued, frankly boring, look.
2 of 13
Susan Cooper In Spy (2015)
Spy is perhaps McCarthy's wig-iest movie, given that its espionage plot offers so many opportunities for disguises. This, however, is her baseline wig, the one McCarthy wears at the beginning of the movie before Susan goes undercover. It's not particularly flattering or exciting, which is why it falls near the bottom. Susan's hair is going so many more interesting places.
Advertisement
3 of 13
Carol In The Back-up Plan (2010)
McCarthy plays a kooky, singing midwife in this lousy Jennifer Lopez rom-com, and dons a red, frizzy mop on top of her head. Part of the reason this wig ranks so low is that this movie does not deserve Melissa McCarthy. But also, for a crunchy granola character, the hair does not feel very organic.
4 of 13
Susan Cooper As Penny Morgan No. 2 In Spy (2015)
In Spy, Susan decides to go rogue and ditch a dowdy get-up for this far more elegant look. This is certainly one of McCarthy's most glamorous wigs, but it also lacks a bit of pizzazz.
5 of 13
Tammy In Tammy (2014)
The ratty mop McCarthy wears in Tammy never quite makes sense. Sure, Tammy is a disaster of a human being, but why does it look like she's in a heavy metal band? Perhaps it's fitting, then, that a version of this wig was lost at sea. The wig — worth $9,000 — fell victim when McCarthy went a little too hard during rehearsal and flipped a jet ski.
6 of 13
Diana In Identity Thief (2013)
This is an insane wig for an insane character. The gaudy criminal Diana wears her hair in orange curls that make her look like a deranged, middle-aged Little Orphan Annie. It's an inspired conceit for a character, but, like much in this movie, doesn't quite work. It's just slightly too cartoonish.
7 of 13
Cassie In The Hangover Part III (2013)
Honestly, McCarthy's wig may be the best thing in this movie. It's a weird, almost-mullet with a few purple streaks, and it's perfect for her turn as Cassie, a pawnshop employee who falls for Zach Galifianakis' Alan. Why? It's by turns a little gross and a little sweet.
Advertisement
8 of 13
Susan Cooper As Penny Morgan No. 1 In Spy (2015)
This wig got the poster treatment for Spy, but it misrepresented the film. Spy isn't about a dowdy cat lady wielding a gun, it's about a woman coming into her own. This disguise is intended to be insulting, and it is just that. It's also hilarious. Susan ditches it quickly. As amusing as it is, it's good for one sight gag then gets deservedly tossed.
9 of 13
Susan Cooper As Carol Jenkins In Spy (2015)
The first secret identity Susan gets saddled with is Carol Jenkins, a single mother of four who works for a software company. The wig isn't quite as horrifying as Penny Morgan's, but it's still pretty humiliating.
10 of 13
Shannon Mullins In The Heat (2013)
The mess of hair McCarthy wears as Shannon Mullins in The Heat shares some DNA with her Tammy wig. Neither of these women give a shit about their hair. But whereas the Tammy wig is nonsensically outlandish, this one is perfectly character-defining. Shannon's hair represents who she is: a wild card, unfettered by propriety.
11 of 13
Marbles Harsgrove (2006)
Unlike the others on this list, Marbles Harsgrove is not a film character. McCarthy played her in a series of YouTube videos before she broke big. Marbles posts vlogs in which she discusses the topics she's passionate about, like The Santa Clause 3. (She loved it.) To play Marbles, McCarthy dons an incredibly short bob with barely any bangs. It's truly bizarre, but so is the character.
12 of 13
Susan Cooper's Final Disguise In Spy (2015)
Susan finally gets a look that's appropriately badass at the end of Spy. This ultimate wig is sexy, practical, and awesome. Okay, so it's not particularly funny. It doesn't matter: What comes out of her mouth is.
13 of 13
Michelle Darnell In The Boss (2016)
McCarthy told Refinery29 that Michelle came to her fully formed when she conceived the character, roughly 15 years ago at The Groundlings. "I was like, Yep, I know what she looks like. She's a redhead. She wears turtlenecks. French-tipped nails," she said. So, indeed, that red wig is a vital part of Michelle's personality. Her distinctive, intensely styled coif has a touch of Suze Orman, a dash of Leona Helmsley, and a pinch of Kate Gosselin.
Advertisement

More from Movies

Watch

R29 Original Series