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Exclusive Interview : Anna Faris

Thanks to her roles in the Scary Movie films, as well as Just Friends, Smiley Face, Mama’s Boy and The House Bunny, 32-year-old Anna Faris has emerged as one of cinema’s most popular and most talented comediennes. In her latest role, the amiable actress plays a pitiless perfume-counter cashier named Brandi. CLINT MORRIS talks to Faris about playing the ‘nasty’ of the new Seth Rogen starrer, Observe and Report.

Such a great role for you – Brandi is delightfully nasty!

Yeah, and that’s what attracted me to it. We’re constantly playing characters that are there to win the audiences over – and that’s our job, to an extent – but it was just so great to play the bad girl for a change! [Laughs]. She’s so obnoxious and awful – I was just giggling the whole time.

Did you based the character on anyone?

I’m grinning. No.. half-way through shooting [Jody Hill] told me that the character was based off an ex-girlfriend of his. Now he denies it [Laughs] – but I don’t know, I think there’s an ex in there somewhere!

And you have some uproariously racy scenes with both Seth Rogen and the great Ray Liotta – were they easy to do?

No. I’ve never got an answer for this [Laughs]

The scene with Ray, in the backseat of the car, must have been very interesting to do?

I was straddling him in the back of that cop car for at least an hour – and we ended up talking about his daughter, and my parents, and my fiancée (actor Chris Pratt, known for his role on TVs Everwood). It was just awkward… and terrifying… it was a surreal moment for sure.

What’s it like working with Seth, because I’ve chatted to him a couple of times and have found him to be a genuinely good guy – is he the same on set?

He’s so great; he’s very down-to-earth. In this industry, actors – all of us; male and female – can be so high-maintenance and he couldn’t be any more the opposite of that. Jody and Seth wanted to make a movie that was aggressively offensive, and dark, and to challenge an audience, and I think they succeeded. I admire those guys.

It’s a film that definitely challenges the audience – they’ll either sit there enjoying-the-heck-out-of-it or they’ll walk out of it. Plain and Simple!

I know! I think you either enjoy this movie or… you really hate it. I think you have to be prepared for a slightly darker journey than one would expect. As I’ve been doing the promotion for it, it’s surprising to discover who likes the film [and who doesn’t]. I was bracing myself for a lot of female journalists to be pretty negative about it – and that has happened – but a lot of the ones I’ve talked to, really loved it. It’s fun to be able to observe everybody’s reactions to it.

It’s a film that will definitely divide people.

Yeah, it hurts my feelings when people are critical of it – my mom couldn’t have been more critical of it! [Laughs] – but it’s also fun to watch it with those people… watching them get uncomfortable in some scenes.

I think it’s refreshing to find a comedy that isn’t light-and-fluffy – give it to them hard I say!

Yeah! [Laughs] It’s a real morally-complicated movie.

So let’s cut right to it : Why did you get involved?

I saw Jody’s previous film Fist-Foot Way, and I really loved it. I also love those new-wave unapologetic comedies, which are slightly different from the other stuff I’ve done. So anyway I found out about the script and I went in and met with them and pitched them to hire me. At first they didn’t think I could play this girl – so I had to really turn on the awful.

You’ve played characters close to Brandi , but they haven’t been overtly evil. The one that comes to mind is the airhead pop-singer Samantha James in Just Friends – which, by the way, is one of my personal favourite performances of yours.

Thank you! I had so much fun playing that role, it was a dream.

Most actresses don’t get to play these outrageous characters, but for some reason I’ve been able to. I get a chance to play around with all these obnoxious, horrible people [Laughs]

It’s because you’re a great comedienne – someone who has been likened to Lucille Ball!

It’s so kind… I’ve heard that a couple of times and I’m just floored. Lucille Ball was a hero of mine growing up. I would watch her show every day when I’d come home from school. It’s such an honour to be compared to her.

You’re getting into producing now, right?

Yeah, its such a challenge to get a female-driven movie made – and as much as I like doing romantic comedies, I like doing just straight-out female comedies more – so I decided if I wanted to keep doing them, I’d have to start developing them myself. So, we’ll see… I’m trying to get some more going… and hopefully some people will decide they want to invest some money in me [Laughs]

You and Adam Sandler, who produced “The House Bunny”, are working on another film together I believe?

Yeah, it’s a female buddy comedy. It’ll be fun to team up with another funny lady.

I won’t get away unscathed from the readers if I don’t ask you – will there be another Scary Movie?

You know, I don’t know, but I’m not ashamed to admit I’d probably do another if it happened though [Laughs]. Thing is, I’m not sure that there’s enough kinda iconic… scary… movies around? When we did the first Scary Movie there was like Scream and I know What You Did Last Summer, and all those films were so popular. They were moments in those films that were visually distinctive – I just don’t know if that has happened in the past few years; if we’ve got enough films like that to go off on.

I think you’re probably right…

I was talking to my dear friend, Regina Hall, who was also in all the Scary Movie’s, and she was wondering why it’s taking so long for the fifth film to happen too. She was like ‘Do you think we’ll be making Scary Movie 5?’. I was like ‘I don’t know Regina’. She was like ‘We’re going to do it as senior citizens – we’re going to be so old by the time they finally do it’ [Laughs]

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