Entertainment & Arts

From sitcom to spy: Miranda makes Hollywood debut

Melissa McCarthy and Miranda Hart Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption McCarthy and Hart became 'genuine friends' both on-screen and off-screen

Miranda Hart is the latest British comedian to make her Hollywood debut, starring in the new action film from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig.

Best known for her self-penned BBC One series Miranda and TV drama Call The Midwife, the Bafta award-winning actress stars alongside fellow Britons Jason Statham and Jude Law, as well as leading lady Melissa McCarthy.

"It's still sinking in to be honest" the 42-year-old admits. "God bless Paul Feig!

"He knew my British sitcom and said he wanted to write me a part in one of his films four years ago, but I never thought it would actually happen".

"So now I owe him my life, which is really annoying," she quips.

Image copyright Fox
Image caption McCarthy plays desk-bound aide to Jude Law's smooth-talking spy, who steps into the field when he disappears

Hart takes on the role of frumpy Nancy, a dissatisfied desk-bound CIA analyst, working in a basement littered with rats.

But when agent Bradley Fine (Law) goes missing, Nancy is thrown into the world of international espionage as she attempts to protect her colleague and best friend Susan Cooper (McCarthy).

The action comedy sees Statham take on the role of stubborn British agent, Rick Ford, while Rose Byrne plays an intimidating Bulgarian arms dealer.

'Womance'

"Nancy is an earpiece girl, like Susan," Hart explains.

"She's tacky, geeky, great at her job, but socially quite awkward.

"Nancy is terrified of the world and begins screwing things up for Susan.

"She gets everything in a complete muddle, which is where a lot of the high comedy happens.

"They are two fish-out-of-water, in the same empty fishbowl. They have a 'womance,' you might say"

Image copyright Fox
Image caption Unassuming analyst Susan Cooper (McCarthy) goes undercover to prevent a global disaster

Standing at more than 6ft, Hart dwarfs McCarthy, but a shared sense of humour and love of life meant the ill-fitting pair developed a genuine off-screen friendship.

"Paul really hoped me and Melissa would work well together and I knew from the minute we shook hands that it was going to work," she says.

"We clicked on-screen and off, and genuinely became friends, which is so lucky - what you see on screen is just so natural."

The Call The Midwife actress had an equally strong bond with rapper 50 Cent - who takes a cameo role in the film.

Yet Hart admits she was "slightly apprehensive" about her opening scene with the Candyshop hitmaker and has bruises to show for it.

"There's a scene where I have to run at him and tackle him to the ground, but it was shot on the very first day of filming.

"It was like, 'OK, welcome to 'Spy', meet 50 Cent, how do you do, now can you just literally run at him?' 'OK!'"

"It was completely surreal. I never would have thought I would be filming in Budapest sprawled all over Mr Cent."

"I mounted him rather aggressively after the tackle and we lay on each other for hours of shooting, which made for a somewhat awkward hello the next day."

'Subjective'

Hart, who waved goodbye to her self-autobiographical series earlier this year, is not the first British comedian to take on Hollywood, with the likes of Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Simon Pegg having forged successful careers across the Atlantic.

So despite being relatively unknown in America, the Torquay-born actress hopes she will over fans.

"I hope that people in America will watch me for the first time and like my work - but it's so subjective," she admits.

"It's a weird career path, acting.

"People expect you to have a plan, but you can't really. You never know where the next job will come from."

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Spy cast, which includes Jason Statham (l) and Alison Janney (far right) are hopeful of a sequel

As director Feig prepares to start shooting his next film, an all-female Ghostbusters, also starring McCarthy, Hart says that you "don't need to be an intelligence officer" to see the attraction of a Spy sequel, something Feig is rumoured to be considering.

"We all want to do another one," she says.

"I am going to lock him in a the hotel suite until he agrees to it - hopefully, fingers crossed he will! "

Yet despite eyeing up a Hollywood sequel, Hart has no plans to relocate, wanting to keep her feet firmly on British soil

"People always ask if I want to break American now, but I have no plans to move to Los Angeles, I simply love British TV too much."

Image caption Miranda kissed farewell to her eponymous BBC series in January

The actress is keen to quash rumours which suggested her next career move would be hosting a reboot of the BBC's Generation Game, after appearing on a one-off special of the show for Comic Relief in 2011.

The classic show, previously presented by the likes of Bruce Forsyth, the late Larry Grayson, and Jim Davidson, was reported to be returning to our small screens.

"It was literally an informal chat with the BBC," she explains.

"We talked about it, and whether the format would work for a modern audience - but that is literally all it was, just a chat, nothing more."

Hart adds: "It got massively blown out of order in the press and, no, we are not doing it right now."

Spy is released in UK cinemas on Friday 5 June.

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