Characterisation in a story is when the writer/director describes and introduces a character. There are two main types of characterisation. The first is direct characterisation, where an author tells you specific features of a person, e.g. She had brown hair. The second is indirect characterisation, where the audience are forced to make assumptions about what a character looks like, through what other characters say about that character, how the character reacts to certain situation, the character’s belongings etc. In class we did two mind maps; the first one was to show all the things that a story could include that would describe the character, but without describing the way they look. The second mind map was to show all the things the author/director could describe about a character’s looks. There were endless things we could have put in the second mind map, but we felt many of them were self explanatory. For example we could have gone into great detail with facial features as there are so many and so many different varieties i.e. people can have small noses, big noses, hooked, ski sloped or flat nose etc.

Mind Map 1
Mind Map 1
Mind Map 2
Mind Map 2

Melissa McCarthy in Spy
Melissa McCarthy is an American actress and comedian. She usually plays the comedic characters in films and so she has had many different looks. In the 2015 film Spy, Melissa McCarthy plays an overweight CIA analyst who decides she wants to be the active, super spy she always dreamt of. She is given many funny characters who she uses to disguise herself as and I thought the characterisation of each character were brilliant and the costumes, designed by Christine Bieselin Clark, made all the characters very unique and different.

You first see her as Susan Cooper in her very bland and mono toned work outfit. She sits behind a desk all day, wishing she was part of the action. She has mid length ginger hair that looks like it has been freshly curled and carefully pinned back, which could show that even tho her outfit isn’t very exciting, she still takes pride in her appearance. She wears a dark pink lip, pink blush and a neutral eye, which again shows she has taken time on making herself look presentable in the morning. The costume designer, Bieselin Clark, said, “She had to be kind of simple, but we didn’t want her to seem unattractive and dowdy”, which is what exactly what comes across.
SAMANTHA, 2015. Melissa McCarthy won’t be typecast in her new movie “Spy”. In: Literally, Darling. 11 May 2015 [12 October 2015]. Available from:

Susan Cooper’s first undercover character is Carol Jenkins, who is a Midwestern mother of three, with an old fashioned perm and frumpy style. Bieselin Clark said that Melissa McCarthy was eager to “go as far as we can in making things look awful” and that “the comedy of it is that it’s so bad you can’t possibly believe they’ve done that (to her)”. I love the clash of colour and fabrics, whilst still keeping it mostly neutral because it is believable that someone would actually wear that but they have made sure she looks really uncoordinated and scatty. Her makeup is very neutral, which I like because I doubt this character would have spent a long time on her makeup, although I think adding a bit of redness round the nose or some redness in her cheeks would have made her makeup look less flawless, which I think would have gone better with the overall messy look.
ANDERSON, T., 2015. In ‘Spy’ the clothes make Melissa McCarthy’s undercover agent. In: Los Angeles Times. 5 June 2015 [9 October 2015]. Available from:

Susan Cooper’s second undercover character is Penny Morgan, who is a cat lover, owning 10 cats of her own. Bieselin Clark says she’s a “Middle America, older gal who dresses for comfort”. She wears a big T-shirt that has a photograph of a cat on the front, a cat pour covered cotton bag and she wears a bright pink sweatsuit. This is a very comedic character, with the grey permed wig and glasses and the fact that her trousers cut off mid calf show that she doesn’t care about how flattering her outfit is, as long as she’s comfy. This is my favourite character because it is so exaggerated and over the top!
NEMIROF, P., 2015. First Green and Red Band Spy Movie Trailors: Do Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy Have Another Winner on Their Hands? In: Collider. 13 January 2015 [12 October 2015]. Available from:

Susan Cooper’s glamorous transformation happens near the end of the film where she starts to look more like an audience would expect a spy to look like. She wears an all black dress when in the casino, that cinches her in at the waist and flares out slightly at the skirt. She looks very elegant and sexy, with her hair beautifully curled and her makeup completed with fake eyelashes and deep pink lipstick. Whilst she is a spy, she also looks a lot more glamorous towards the end. In the image below she wears a dark grey trench coat which gives her a sophisticated and professional look, with the same curled hair and heavier makeup as in the casino.
ANDERSON, T., 2015. In ‘Spy’ the clothes make Melissa McCarthy’s undercover agent. In: Los Angeles Times. 5 June 2015 [9 October 2015]. Available from:
CHIONG, L., 2015. Win SPY starring Melissa McCarthy on Blue-Ray and DVD! (Ends 10/12/15) [12 October 2015]. Available from:

This is the perfect film to show how you can completely change how a person looks and is perceived by just changing their hair and makeup. She goes from an average middle aged woman, to a frumpy mum of three, to a crazy cat woman, to a glamorous spy all within one film! This has inspired me to think out every detail of my characters’ styling because the tiniest aspect of someone’s look can change people’s perceptions of them.

ANDERSON, T., 2015. In ‘Spy’ the clothes make Melissa McCarthy’s undercover agent. In: Los Angeles Times. 5 June 2015 [9 October 2015]. Available from:
IMDB, 2015. Spy (2015) [9 October 2015]. Available from:


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