Rose Byrne has been doing scene-stealing work in a host of comedies over the past few years, so it’s no surprise that she waltzes away with this week’s Melissa McCarthy espionage comedy Spy, where she plays a snooty Bulgarian arms dealer. But Byrne doesn’t do all the work by herself: She’s aided and abetted by a focus-pulling tower of hair that’s the butt of some of the film’s best jokes.
“I kept saying Rayna — Rose’s character — should have really big, blown-out hair,” director Paul Feig told us at last night’s premiere. Feig had found his inspiration from the beauty shops of Budapest (where the film was shooting), but when Byrne emerged from a two-hour hair-and-makeup test one day sporting all of that vertiginous volume, even Feig didn’t know what to make of it at first. “She’s got this elaborate Marie Antoinette–meets–Donald Trump kind of hair,” he recalled. “It was the most complicated hairstyle I’ve ever seen in my life. And I went, ‘Oh, that’s not at all what I thought we were going to do,’ but then I saw [Rose] and she looked so in the moment. I can always see when my actors find their characters from an outer thing.”
Still, he thought the polite thing would be to warn Byrne of what was now coming. “The only caveat,” he remembered telling her, “is we’re going to make jokes about your hair the whole movie, so you’ve got to be ready for that.”
Alas, the biggest and best joke never made it in. “The only thing I regret about the movie,” McCarthy told us later, “is the whole time we were shooting it, we said, ‘We have to make sure that Rose’s hair gets a credit.’ And then we forgot!” Perhaps they’ll make up for it with Spy 2, giving “And Rose Byrne’s Giant Hair” the top billing it deserves.