If Hollywood can offer medals of courage on screen, somebody should nominate comedy star Anna Faris for the highest honor possible. Since her memorable debut in the execrable Scary Movie franchise, Faris, 34, looked somewhat doomed to be the go-to girl for gross out humor. Yet, the exposure would lead her to essay memorable work as a supporting player in such films as Lost in Translation and Brokeback Mountain. In each instance, Faris revealed something that was just begging to be given a chance to flourish in a starring role.
Enter The House Bunny.
Channeling the sexy comic spirit of such iconic blondes as Carole Lombard and Jean Harlow, Faris’ star turn as an exiled Playboy bunny was a tour de force. Yet, how is it that she remains in the bubble of leading lady stardom? That may change should her latest effort, What’s Your Number? catch on with mainstream audiences. Sure, she’s still game to join the boys’ club of questionable taste with such films as Waiting and Observe and Report. But, the beauty of Faris is how her natural charisma does wonders to the rom com genre. What’s Your Number? succeeds because the simply adorkable girl you see on screen is absolutely genuine and accessible. And that persona extends quite nicely off-screen, too, as revealed in this Personalities Interview.
JORGE CARREON: Why does our search for companionship make us do some crazy stuff?
ANNA FARIS: I don’t know! I think the craziest stuff I’ve ever done in my life has been out of desperation to find love and to find a boyfriend. I was such a late bloomer and I felt so unattractive for so long that when guys finally started to like me I was just a lunatic. I guess we’re all afraid of being lonely and of being alone and we somehow I think in our partners we get acceptance for ourselves which maybe is wrong, but that’s sort of human nature.
CARREON: What is about your character Ally’s situation that makes for great comedy? What did you want her to represent in terms of our attitudes about relationships?
FARIS: Ally’s so hung up on the idea that she’s a whore; it starts to affect her self-esteem. Towards the end of the movie, she realizes that maybe people shouldn’t be judged according to the number of people they’ve slept with. For Ally, in revisiting all of her relationships, it becomes a story of growth for her. It’s great for me in comedic positions because we get to do, all kinds of crazy flashbacks.
CARREON: It feels like the 1950s again, where we were bombarded with the message that being paired off is something we all should strive for in life. How do you think the movie provides commentary on the need to settle down?
FARIS: I think there’s definitely a trend towards going back to the idea of monogamy and marriage. I personally love marriage and I’ve always been kind of a relationship girl. Sometimes I’ve stayed in them way too long. But, I also think that to each his own. If you’re happy and comfortable being with a lot of different people then that’s what you should do. I wish that instead of a reactionary track that we’re taking as a society, we should continue to be more open minded and accepting of people doing just whatever they darn well please.
CARREON: Given the women you’ve played on screen, is it fair to say you are a traditionalist?
FARIS: I wish that I could say that I’m a modern woman, but I do really love being married (to actor and co-star Chris Pratt). I love cooking and being at home. Oh my God, I sound so boring, Frankly, I could never revisit any of my previous relationships, so I guess that new is better than old. I don’t know. Sometimes I think you hang onto the old just for the sake of sentimentality. Sometime you realize that you’ve outgrown all of the old relationships, whether it’s friendships or boyfriends or girlfriends or whatever. But, you still cling onto the memory and romanticized that element completely. Then, when you bump into them on the street you’re like, “Oh yeah, these are the things that bothered me.” They’re probably feeling the same way about you.
CARREON: We see you on screen doing things that audiences never expect out of the female lead. What’s the secret to playing such uninhibited characters?
FARIS: My poor parents! They’re just waiting for me to be Heidi in Heidi of the Hills or something. I think that there’s such a sense of freedom. I am a pretty controlled person until I’ve had a couple glasses of wine, but I think I really find my creative escape through playing crazy people and I really love that.
CARREON: Does being fearless have anything to do with that?
FARIS: I wish it were fearlessness! But it’s not. It’s definitely me swallowing and suppressing my own fear. It’s like jumping off the high dive. Like, “Oh man, this doesn’t look like it’s going to be fun, but I got to do it anyway.” It is about committing and then it ends up feeling really rewarding. It’s not like I approach things with a complete, with just complete freedom. I’m constantly thinking about, “What my parents are going to think about this particular scene?” or “What are the repercussions of this?” or “How am I going to fall on my face? That’s going to hurt!” All the physical comedy stuff usually is painful.
CARREON: The resurgence of the R-rated comedy has evolved into a powerful cash cow with films like Wedding Crashers andThe Hangover. Now, the ladies are showing they got the balls to out R the boys thanks to Bridesmaids. Does gender dictate how well an adult comedy plays to an audience?
FARIS: For me a great adult comedy is about the dialogue and it’s about a realism. I love great conversation, watching great conversation and I love watching it in this movie. I love being part of a scenario where women are talking pretty dirty and really communicating with each other. Just like my friends and I do. I think it’s really refreshing to go down this path and it’s really fun. It’s fun to shock the boys on set a little bit I’ve got to say. I like absurdity. I love people that are self-deprecating. I don’t love any kind of mean spirited humor. I love weirdness. I love anything that’s strange and I do some pretty weird things in this movie. Who knew what was going to make it on the film, but that is what appeals to me. I think surprise is funny.
CARREON: You’re executive producer of What’s Your Number? Did you love being in the position of control. Is it essential for you take stronger charge of your career this way?
FARIS: I do love being in this position. It’s really rewarding to be part of a project from the beginning to the end. It’s really exciting and it feels necessary for a woman in Hollywood right now, especially if you want to pursue comedy. This is what you have to do. It’s so fun to be able to work with writers and create ideas and create character. And, then see them to fruition is amazing.
CARREON: Now, the moment of truth. The world is going to ask, so here’s your chance to set the record straight. Exactly what is your number?
FARIS: My number is 500,000 [LAUGHS] No. No. I think that especially for women, it’s the guys that I ask. I was like, “ Hey, so what’s your number?” Most of them didn’t know. Granted, these were Hollywood actor boys that I was asking so it’s got to be really high. Girls tend to know pretty much right away and feel a lot of shame if it’s a number over 10. That really bothers me because I feel it’s 2011. I had to think a second there. [LAUGHS] So why does this matter? Why does it matter to my publicist? Why does it matter to my parents? Hopefully, in the next 10 years, that becomes less of a stigma. I grew up where most of the girls I knew still felt a lot of guilt about sex. Being labeled a whore or a slut, that’s a big deal in your school. Of course, it’s a double standard. I’m hoping that that will change. I’m hoping if I have a daughter, she won’t grow up with any sense of sort of guilt towards her own sexuality.
Anna Faris stars with Chris Evans in the romantic comedy, What’s Your Number?, now playing citywide. She recently top-lined the 80s themed comedy Take Me Home Tonight, now on Blu-ray and DVD. Faris will next star opposite Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator, set for release in 2012.
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