Melissa McCarthy relished playing a serious role in 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'.

The 48-year-old actress - who is best-known for her comedic performances - plays the late author Lee Israel, who went from being a celebrity biographer to a literary forger, in the new movie, and Melissa has insisted she enjoyed the challenge.

She said: ''I love a very flawed, challenging character.

''You still root for them because whatever they're doing on the surface is not really what's happening on the inside.

''We all play with different defence mechanisms, and Lee's was to be as prickly and difficult as possible. But I always thought, 'What is she hiding? What's going on the inside?'''

Despite this, Melissa admitted it was difficult to really develop a deep understanding of the real-life person behind her performance.

She told The Hollywood Reporter: ''She barely took any pictures. There's absolutely no video of her.''

Melissa stars in the movie alongside Richard E. Grant, and he's admitted that a character like Lee is a breath of fresh air.

He explained: ''She's so authentically herself. She's unapologetic.

''The era we live in now with social media, everybody has the perfect life - perfect food, or the perfect look, everything - but you see on a daily basis that people are sharing their lives. Lee is the antithesis of that.

''She's completely authentic to her grumpy self, and somebody who doesn't give in at all, or doesn't give a nod to political correctness in any shape or fame. I think it's sort of liberating, and to be admired in a certain way.''