FARIS RETURNS TO WACKY COMIC STYLE
by Paul Fischer
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Blonde, beautiful and hilarious funny girl Anna Faris returns to outrageous cinematic comedy in the irreverent and very R-rated Observe and Report. Here she plays a makeup salesgirl in a mall traumatized by a flasher, who reluctantly goes on a date with the mall’s clueless head of security, played by Seth Rogan. Faris talks comedy and her own aspirations with PAUL FISCHER
QUESTION: You seem to have this kind of “dumb blonde” persona –I’m just wondering, what was it about this girl and Observe and Report that appealed to you that was a little bit different to a lot of the other wacky comedies we’ve seen you do?
ANNA FARIS: You know, I think, first of all, getting any job is such a victory, I guess. I don’t like it when actors pretend like it isn’t, because, honestly, it’s tough getting work, for all but the biggest stars, anyway, so, it’s always an honor to have a job, especially in comedy. And for this role, I think it was that opportunity to be so awful, and to work with Seth. I was a big fan of Foot Fist Way, Jody’s first movie and getting to be part of this boys’ club, and to also play a character that’s so unapologetic, and so sort of unlikeable – it’s a very liberating feeling.
QUESTION: Did you work very hard on the look of this girl, because she clearly has a very interesting – her face, in particular, has a very interesting look to her. Did you try to comically exaggerate her in any way? I mean, did you work on that with the director, or with the makeup people?
ANNA FARIS: Yeah. You know, a few things. We wanted her to think that she looked sophisticated, so, she always wears black. There’s always a lot of cleavage, my hair’s always in a ponytail and I wear long, fake nails, which actually made me feel very much the role. I didn’t realize ‘til kind of after I saw the movie, but I consciously – or maybe unconsciously - jutted out my jaw a little bit. I remember having this look on my face the whole time of, like, “Oh, my God. What?” Like, everything’s a little bit disdainful, to her. And she’s kind of in – I don’t know if “disbelief” is the right world. But I realized that I have this expression on my face most of the movie.
QUESTION: It was amazing, that you sustained that look throughout the entire film.
ANNA FARIS: I feel like those are girls that I grew up with, you know? Just, like – everything’s like, “What? What?” Like, “What did you say?” Like, “Okay.” That was my whole thing. Is girls that go, “Okay.”
QUESTION: Did you base it on people you knew? Did you consciously base it on anybody you knew?
ANNA FARIS: Well, no, I didn’t. But Jody said that – he doesn’t like it when I said this, but he told me that it was – there was some stuff based on an ex-girlfriend.
QUESTION: How much research do you do on somebody like this? I mean, do you go to the mall and look at the way the girls interact with customers buying makeup, or any of that kind of thing? Or is it purely on the page?
ANNA FARIS: You know, I wish I could tell you I did a ton of research, but I didn’t do any. I mean, I think there are some roles that you just know, I guess, and she just felt like – oh, this is what I knew growing up a little bit, hanging out at the mall. And honestly I was hired about a week and a half, I think, before we started shooting, so, there wasn’t a ton of time for that kind of preparation.
QUESTION: Now you mentioned earlier that it’s always just good to have a job, but it seems to me that you’ve been at this a long time, and that you have attained a degree of success. Do you see it that way, or do you look at every job as being sort of a struggle, or determination to sort of get the job? I mean, how do you view your career?
ANNA FARIS: I think the longer I’ve been in this industry, the more I realize just what a minor miracle every step of filmmaking is. And – you know, being here today, promoting the movie, is huge. I mean, and I mentioned that to Seth earlier. And he’s like, “Listen. There’s still a lot that can go wrong.” But I think now I’m more involved in films at their conception, which is a process. Actually getting the movie written, greenlit, made, and then released, is a three-year process.
QUESTION: Which began with House Bunny. I mean, that was kind of the first time that you were able to get a film greenlit and released pretty much from the beginning.
ANNA FARIS: Yeah. Yeah. And I’d love to do that again and we’re working on some stuff, so hopefully we can do that. But I was relieved to hear that even Seth has to create his own projects as well. I feel like – you know, especially in the world of comedy, I guess that’s what you need to do. If you want to play a specific kind of character, you have to take some initiative, and be a little more pro-active, and work with the writers, and develop a character together, and then sell it to the studio. And you sort of have to step up to the plate a little bit. But it’s a challenge, for sure.
QUESTION: Did you and Seth talk a lot about comedy when you were working together? And do you have different approaches to the way you approach comedy?
ANNA FARIS: I don’t think so, even though I sort of learned so much doing the Scary Movie’s—we didn’t do a ton of improv in that. That’s actually a really – especially the third and fourth one, working with David Zucker – it’s really precise. And it’s not necessarily about the character, at all. And working with this movie, which is actually – we all have very well-defined characters, I think. And Jody and Seth like to describe it as a character piece. And that’s really liberating for an actor. I think you sort of feel like you really get to play, in what we sort of love to do. So I think Seth and I both enjoy that element very much.
QUESTION: Is the Scary Movie franchise well and truly behind you, at this point? Or is it a case of never say never?
ANNA FARIS: I would never say never, but there’s definitely other things I’m interested in doing. I mean, there’s only so much you can do with Cindy Campbell. I mean, I don’t know how many times I can get hit in the head.
QUESTION: Let me ask you about a couple of things that sound interesting that you have coming up. Frequently Asked Questions about Time Travel. What is that?
ANNA FARIS: It’s a movie that takes place in a pub, that’s sort of a science fiction movie. It’s a comedy and we shot it in London a few years back. And it is actually getting its UK release this month. But I don’t know what the status is for – for the States. I guess we’ll sort of see the reaction, how it goes over in the UK. But I play a time traveler. And I wear –
QUESTION: Where do you go?
ANNA FARIS: I go in the future, and then I go back in the past. Not too far. Only, like, ten, 15 minutes. [LAUGHTER]
QUESTION: I like the idea of Young Americans. It’s also a comedy, presumably.
ANNA FARIS: It is a comedy. It’s a story of five young people, 1986. It all takes place over a day and a night. I play Topher Grace’s twin sister, but it’s also sort of a coming of age, even though we’re maybe a little old to be coming of age. [LAUGHTER] Hello!
QUESTION: You’ve come of age, I think, by now, haven’t you?
ANNA FARIS: Yeah! [LAUGHTER]
QUESTION: I also notice you’ve done an animated movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Do you do a film like that for the child within you?
ANNA FARIS: The child who likes money in me. [LAUGHTER] No, I’m just kidding, Paul. You know, I had never done an animated movie before. It was really fun, but much harder work than I anticipated. Everyone was like, “Oh, it’s so easy.”
QUESTION: It’ll be the only time you can say you’ve done a movie with Mr. T.
ANNA FARIS: Yes, I know and you know what? I don’t know if you’ve talked with him, Paul. But he is the loveliest, most amazing guy. I’m so happy. But the movie’s great, and I’m really excited for it, so hopefully we’ll be able to talk again for that movie.
QUESTION: Do you know what you’re doing next?
ANNA FARIS: I don’t know. There are a couple things cooking. I want to produce again and some ideas that I’ve got for characters. So, I want to work on some of that stuff.
Paul Fischer is originally from Australia. Now he is an interviewer and film critic living in Hollywood.
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