Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo may not be the stars of “The Heat,” but they certainly steal the show.
The actresses round out the impressive, celebrity-filled cast of the Paul Feig-directed buddy cop comedy, which stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as unlikely partners trying to hunt down a Russian mobster on the streets of Boston.
Chaffin and Denbo, who portray stereotypical uncouth Boston natives Gina and Beth in the flick, have been working together since the late 1990s, where they met doing live comedy with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City. The pair hit it off right away thanks to a shared sense of humor about their New England roots.
Best known for their popular stage show-turned-Podcast, titled “Ronna & Beverly,” the actresses’ resumes include movie roles, a myriad of writing credits, and guest appearances on several popular television series including “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Weeds.”
I recently sat down with Chaffin and Denbo to discuss “The Heat,” what it was like working with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, and our mutual love for “The Real Housewives of Anywhere.”
Laura Hibbs: How did you both get involved with “The Heat”?
Jessica Chaffin: We’ve been working with ["Bridesmaids" director] Paul Feig for a few years. We did a pilot for him in 2009 for Showtime, and unfortunately it did not become a television show, but it launched a great relationship. When he got “The Heat,” he called us because he knows Boston is our thing. We basically either play Jewish mothers or we play Boston scumbags, nothing in the middle. And they were looking for two girls to play sort of scummy Boston characters.
Hibbs: Is there anyone in particular from Boston that you specifically parodied for this film?
Jamie Denbo: In this movie? Everybody I went to high school with. It’s me as all the people who used to throw parties on the golf course. And every girl that everyone thought was pregnant but was not pregnant.
Chaffin: For me it is everybody I’m related to. I’m sure my cousins will be thrilled to hear that. Specifically, my cousin had this girlfriend named Dorthea. She was always getting all dressed up and thought she looked amazing all the time. So I just took that attitude of like, “I don’t know what you want to talk about, I look incredible at all times.”
Hibbs: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy had never worked together before. What was their dynamic like during filming?
Chaffin: Terrific. They hit it off and became really close friends. Their kids are the same age. I think the other day they described the first time they met each other as “fireworks.” They were doing everything together, and the chemistry really comes through. They have a real charming dynamic. You want to be the third person at the bar with them.
Hibbs: Do you think movies like “The Heat” will open up more comedic roles for women?
Denbo: It used to be like that. You would see Shelley Long and Bette Midler as buddies in movies, [and] nobody really thought, “Oh, that is only a movie for women to see.” But for whatever reason, with the rise of the romantic comedy, they said, “Ok, girls get Katherine Heigl, and men get everybody.”
Chaffin: Luckily no one gets Katherine Heigl anymore.
Denbo: For whatever reason, they are opening it up again because they’re realizing, “Oh right, this [expletive] works too.” You know, Lucille Ball was for everybody. Lucy wasn’t just a woman’s performer.
Chaffin: It seems like it fell off. You think of Madeline Kahn in all the Mel Brooks movies. All of that was just funny. And then something happened where it became girls versus boys. Luckily now it is becoming a “cream rises to the top” sort of situation. But you have to give people that opportunity, so I do think it will open more doors. Someone this morning was just telling me that their 14-year-old son loves “Bridesmaids.”
Hibbs: I watched you both in the “Real Housewives of South Boston” video. I’m obsessed with everything “Housewives.”
Denbo: We were really lucky to be in that, I think they knew that Boston was our thing. It was just right. It was the perfect time for a Boston parody.
Chaffin: I watch all the “Housewives.” I watch any of it, all of it. I know way too much about those ladies’ lives. I think the thing that gets me, because I was always like, “Why? Why can’t I stop?” There are moments when I hate myself, I feel filthy for watching it. It’s only good the first two seasons because then they become too aware of the camera. But it is that moment when they are trying to keep it together —these women are celebrities in their own mind, so it’s the hair and makeup the whole thing— but then somebody says something and one of their heads swivels around sideways and one of their eyes goes wonky and they just attack each other. And it is so amazing.
“The Heat” is now available with XFINITY On Demand.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.