'The Heat': Why Did Sandra Bullock Remove Her Shirt, While Melissa McCarthy Kept Hers On? Writer Katie Dippold Defends Decision

‘The Heat’ is being greeted as a breath of fresh air in Hollywood. In the same way that Bridesmaids proved that women had it in them to be funny, so Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy’s hit film illustrates that the buddy cop caper needn’t reside only in the male domain.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments that have helped the film take $160m at the box office so far – four times its production budget – and secure a sequel already.

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in 'The Heat'

However, one of the moments that has the potential to jar in the film is a bar-room scene halfway through, which sees both women get off their heads, but leaves only Bullock as the uptight FBI agent Sarah Ashburn, with her shirt on the floor, while Melissa McCarthy – as the more reckless, streetwise cop Mullins – resolutely clothed.

Bearing in mind this film is being seen as a(another) huge step forward for women’s influence over Hollywood execs, does writer Katie Dippold feel it right that her script involved one of the industry’s celebrated ‘hotties’ Bullock disrobing, but not McCarthy?

Because McCarthy has weathered much personal criticism for her weight, as well as earning millions through her undoubted comedic talents, Dippold would be justified to bristle at the question. Not a bit of it. Instead, she explains her writing choices…

“In terms of the script, Melissa's character knows how to party, and keeps it cool, it's her character,” says Dippold.

“She’s basically saying, ‘I'm not taking my shirt off for these old jerks,’ whereas for Sandra’s character Ashburn, it's her first night out drinking, so it all kind of spirals to a point where her shirt falls off.

“And there’s no question Melissa’s character is a feminine, sexual character. She has her gentlemen callers, she’s far more versed in the ways of the world than Ashburn.”

Officers Ashburn and Mullins have to find a way of getting along in 'The Heat'

With these two female leads, ‘The Heat’ is taking its place on the plinth of ‘Women for Hollywood’, something that leaves Dippold bemused…

“I've always tried not to hear that it's always harder for women,” she reflects. “I mean, apparently it is, but I try to block that out. I'd rather just on focus on writing for women.

“I spent a lot of time working out what it was I wanted to go see myself in the cinema. Growing up, I wanted to be like a buddy cop, funny, cool and tough, and I always wanted to do that myself. And there are so many funny women out there.

“But ’Bridesmaids’ had a huge impact on all of us. Before that film came out, I would talk about my ideas to people (with money to greenlight, presumably), and the general feeling was, let's see how ‘Bridesmaids’ does. So it’s been very important.”

Bullock's comedic talents ably match those of McCarthy's in 'The Heat'

As well as fulfilling her cop caper dream, Dippold has tapped into Bullock’s funny bone, something we haven’t seen on screen for a while…

“She added so many physical moments,” reveals Dippold admiringly, referring to a scene where Bullock’s Ashburn loses her cool with a group of male cops, and stalks out of the room – “That bit where she draws her finger across the glass, that was all her.”

The film, set on the streets of Boston where the two must work together to chase down an abusive gang lord, has its moments of violence as well as humour, something Dippold didn’t baulk from…

“I loved how Paul Feig (director, Bridesmaids) did the violence,” she says. “It was very real which was fun to me, because that kind of action could easily have got fake and silly. It was new for me, fun to try.”

Now Dippold, previously a writer on ‘Parks and Recreation’ has to find some new ideas for the sequel, which will hopefully reunite Bullock and McCarthy, whose chemistry is undebatable…

“I’m working very hard,” reports Dippold. “The laptop is physically out as we speak.”

'The Heat' is in UK cinemas from Wednesday 31 July. Watch the trailer below...