"I tend to make an ass out of myself a lot. And so that's kinda the cool thing that comedy has given me -- the ability to laugh at myself." -- Anna Faris
You might not know it yet, and she might not know it yet, but the female answer to Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen and all those, well, dudes, has finally arrived in the form of ... a Playboy bunny? In her latest film The House Bunny, Anna Faris plays a Playboy bunny who's kicked out of the mansion, and, in searching for a new place to crash, stumbles into the dorkiest sorority house on campus and signs up to be their house mother. It's a familiar PG-13 comedy that doesn't exactly re-invent the wheel, but if there's one reason to see the film, it's Faris. Here, at least, she proves there's definitely room for big, female-centric comedies in Hollywood.
Cinematical sat down with Faris earlier this week, where we spoke about her new film, what it's like to be on the cover of Playboy and how, exactly, she went from starring in dramatic theater productions in Seattle to landing the lead role in a little comedy called Scary Movie.
Cinematical: So congrats on landing the cover of Playboy!
Anna Faris: [laughs] Thank you!
Cinematical: What's up with that? Was anyone caught by surprise or freaked out at seeing you on the cover?
AF: Yeah, I thought it was awesome -- it was rad -- and that all my ex-boyfriends would think, ya know ...
Cinematical: They'd be feverishly flipping through the pages thinking your career was over and this was a last ditch effort to do whatever ...
AF: [laughs] Probably ... but yeah, it was great. Ya know, we planned it awhile ago and just wanted it to tie into the film and all that. My parents are pretty conservative, but they were really happy and excited for me. In fact, I'm taking them to the premiere tomorrow, which the party afterwards is at the [Playboy] mansion ... so [laughs] I'm going to try to drag them up there.
Cinematical: That's awesome! So now you're dealing here with Playboy bunnies, fraternities and sororities and it's all fairly tame -- at any point, did the thought to take it up a notch and get a little freaky with it come into play at all? Or were you always shooting for PG-13?
AF: Yeah, but I guess, ya know, we wanted to make a movie that was for everybody, that was PG-13 -- but, yeah, I wanted to ... I like all the cruder, raunchier jokes. There were a few in here, but we had to cut a lot of them out.
Cinematical: So does that mean we'll see an Unrated House Bunny on DVD?
AF: Well there wasn't too much -- we'd have to add a bunch of stuff, or just show some B-roll of us at the mansion.
Cinematical: This is your first film as a producer, so what was your role in the making of it all? And as a producer, do you get better food than everyone else, or what?
AF: [laughs] No! Well, for me, I got the producer credit because we were involved with the project from the very beginning ... and so that was kinda how I got that. I didn't have a ton of power, but it felt good because it gave me a sense of ownership over the movie and made me feel like if I could do this once, maybe I could do it again. But yeah, I wish I could say I was an all-powerful producer, but I wasn't.
Cinematical: So with a film like Smiley Face, which I loved by the way --
AF: -- Oh, thanks -- thanks so much, I really love that film ...
Cinematical: But I imagine to prepare for that you just get stoned all day. For The House Bunny, though, you're playing an ex-Playboy bunny ... so is there just a lot of dieting and tanning salons?
AF: Yeah, it was tanning ... and working out all the time. Dieting, tons of wardrobe fittings -- kinda all the stuff I hate. But, ya know, I'm proud to do a movie like Smiley Face where I look like that with no makeup, greasy hair and wearing pajamas for pretty much the whole movie. And then to do a movie like this where I worked hard at becoming the character. I always want to do whatever is appropriate for the character I'm playing .. but it was hard work and I hated it.
Cinematical: Now people say whatever they say about the Scary Movie franchise, but I have a lot of respect for the Wayans brothers because they know funny and they've been around it for a very long time. Did you learn a lot from them? Where did you learn your skills?
AF: Yeah, I had never done a comedy before. I had been in all local theaters, all dramatic .. in Seattle ... and I did a few little independent movies -- all dramatic stuff -- and never thought of myself as a comedian in any form. In fact nobody did -- nobody thought I was funny at all. [laughs] And so I pulled some strings, I knew some people, and sent in a tape for this Scary Movie and I ended up getting it. I just couldn't believe it because I never thought of myself as a funny person ... and later on I asked Keenan why he would ever cast me, and he said something like "Because you really didn't know what you were doing." I've thought about that a lot -- it's true, I really didn't -- but I think what he obviously meant was that I was willing. I was willing to try anything and sort of do ... whatever it took, I guess -- whether it's getting sprayed to the ceiling or ... whatever. That education for me was priceless, just doing all the Scary Movies. For awhile, though, it was really hard for me to get jobs. I wanted to do more dramatic work because that's where I felt more comfortable, and I felt like I wanted to prove myself to Hollywood, but I could barely get auditions for stuff. And then eventually I realized that I loved doing comedy -- that I want to do this for a long time.
Cinematical: Well you're great at it ... and I feel the genre needs more funny women.
Cinematical: But, I mean, eventually do you want to do more drama?
AF: Yeah ... I think I really want to focus on comedy. It seems like that's what my fans really like, I love doing it -- I'm at my happiest when I'm doing comedic stuff -- and so I would love to stick with that.
Cinematical: What makes you laugh? What's funny to you?
AF: Well I tend to make an ass out of myself a lot. And so that's kinda the cool thing that comedy has given me -- the ability to laugh at myself. But what IS funny to me? I'm not a fan of mean-spirited comedy -- with the exception of Bill Murray. He's sort of perfected the bitter, sort of slightly angry middle-aged man that's just hysterical to watch. I love Will Ferrell, I love people who can laugh at themselves ... I love silly random things.
Cinematical: Yeah, that's hot right now -- silly random lines, improv comedy. I think it sort of brings something more genuine and unexpected to a genre that really needs it.
AF: Exactly ... people like to be surprised. And I like all kinds of comedy ...
Cinematical: Do you have a favorite that you've watched 500 times; something that inspires you before taking on a role or whatever ...?
AF: I love The Jerk -- that's one of those family classics; we watch it all the time. I love the structure of it, the comedy, because most comedies just sort of fall apart in the third act. Love Steve Martin. I really love old school comedy, ya know, and the randomness of it -- like we were talking before -- and just how it was wacky and unexpected.
Cinematical: Is that what draws you to a character? Because, and especially with films like Just Friends, Smiley Face and The House Bunny, you seem to be attracted to these wild, off-the-charts "characters."
AF: Yeah, I look for something that's a little fresh; something I can really have fun with. There are a whole lot of roles out there that are written for the straight girl ... and it's hard to play that, because you look for something to do with it and it's not the position the movie is supposed to be. So, yeah, I love playing with those really splashy roles ... unless, like, for example, this new Seth Rogen movie that I'm in called Observe and Report. My character is so obnoxious and tacky and itchy and just awful. But I loved playing that. It's really rewarding as a women when you don't have to play someone that the audience has to fall in love with too. Because usually that's what you have to do -- be charming, delightful ... and in this one I'm just so ... awful [laughs]
Cinematical: How is it working with Seth? Was there a lot of improv there, because I know he likes to just go off?
AF: Yeah ... it was great. I loved it, it was awesome ... it's like this whole new wave of comedy, and you can do that because a lot of the time we're not using film anymore -- so we don't have to worry about rolling out, and it's awesome man. But he's great ... he laughs all the time.
Cinematical: Yeah, he's got this sorta cough-laugh, right? That doesn't stop ...
AF: [laughs] Yes, that's it! Totally!
Cinematical: Are there any projects that you'd like to delve into once, ya know, you have the power to just do whatever you want? Any dream roles?
AF: There are a couple of projects I've got cooking that are based a little more on my own life that are a little more grounded, a little edgier. I want to do more R-rated stuff. I mean I loved doing The House Bunny stuff, and I love Adam Sandler and his movies, but I would love to create a female compliment to what Judd Apatow is doing with his more grounded ... I don't want to do Sex and the City savvy, I want more the girl that just graduated from college and she's a stoner and trying to figure out her life -- stuff that has very grounded storylines, but really rich characters -- like the kind of girls that are out there, that we're all friends with, but we never really see on the big screen. I want to do some female buddy movies too, so I got a couple things cooking here. We'll see how it goes ...
The House Bunny arrives in theaters this Friday.