Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd In Talks To Re-Team With ‘St. Vincent’ Helmer Ted Melfi In ‘The Starling’

Melissa McCarthy Chris O'Dowd Ted Melfi

EXCLUSIVE: Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd are in talks to star for their St. Vincent director Ted Melfi in The Starling, a Black List scripted comedy by Matt Harris.

The tone, comedy grounded with emotion, is comparable to St. Vincent. A married couple suffers a tragedy that strains their relationship. While her husband heads off to deal with grief in recovery, Lily Maynard stays home. He has built a beautiful garden for her in the backyard, but she finds herself assailed by a sizable black starling that has built a nearby nest. She seeks out a veterinarian to see if there is a humane way to get rid of this bird. That vet, who was a psychiatrist once but shed humans for animals, puts his own imprint on the situation. The film is an allegorical tale of how love can carry one through grief.

I’ve heard Melfi is committed and that McCarthy and O’Dowd are negotiating to play the married couple, with a summer start date eyed. The script has been a magnet for talent; most recently Keanu Reeves and Isla Fisher circled it with director Dome Karukoski. It was originally written as a vehicle for a male actor, who is being tormented by the bird, but they’ve flipped the script and McCarthy will have that role now.

Starling will be fully financed by Limelight, and produced by Dylan Sellers, Chris Parker, Melfi and Kimberly Quinn. Alex Dong is exec producing.

Melfi, who last directed by blockbuster Hidden Figures, had a small window available while things sort on Fruitloops, the drama he wrote to direct for Fox and Chernin Entertainment, with Woody Harrelson attached to star, before Disney acquired the studio. The film might move — several studios are interested, and sources say Paramount the front-runner — but the pause gave Melfi enough time to direct The Starling.

McCarthy is coming off an Oscar-nominated turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? and will next be seen in the mob drama The Kitchen as she continues to mix drama with her comic vehicles. She is repped by CAA and MGMT Entertainment.

O’Dowd, who first teamed with McCarthy in Bridesmaids and last co-starred in Mary Poppins Returns, is repped by WME and 3 Arts. Melfi is repped by UTA.

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