Melissa McCarthy beats 'the bejeepers out of' Jason Bateman in 'Identity Thief'

Jan. 29, 2013 at 9:18 AM ET

Melissa McCarthy is a force of nature. Not only does she have an Emmy for her "Mike & Molly" work and an Oscar nomination for her "Bridesmaids" role, she's also got a new film out, "Identity Thief," in which she plays a role originally written for a man.

When TODAY's Savannah Guthrie pointed this out during McCarthy's visit on Tuesday, she grinned about that gender switch, guessing that "(producers) thought, 'She's mannish! We'll get that guy!'"

In the film, she plays a woman who steals Jason Bateman's character's identity and runs up bills on his dime, but when Bateman decides to hunt her down, she's not easily cowed. "I beat the bejeepers out of him," said McCarthy, explaining how she had to "punch him in the throat, you know, 15 times."

The last few years have been good to McCarthy, who is pleased she's getting such great work after trying for 20 years. "I just have to keep pinching myself," she said.

And there was one more high point for the actress, who had expressed off-camera a desire to meet former Vice President Al Gore -- a guest on TODAY. Guthrie walked McCarthy over, and the two shook hands.

"You make me laugh," said Gore. "You're great!"

"Identity Thief" opens in theaters on Feb. 8.

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