Anna Faris drifts back and forth effortlessly between funny roles in adult-themed movies (the Scary Movie franchise, Lost in Translation and Brokeback Mountain) and family-friendly fare like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and, most recently, playing Rachel the nature filmmaker in Yogi Bear, which opens everywhere on December 17. The 34-year-old Seattle native gave her first professional performance at age nine and, since her breakout role in 2000's horror-movie parody Scary Movie, has been keeping us laughing ever since in movies like The House Bunny, The Hot Chick, Smiley Face and Observe and Report.
We sat down with the petite actress with the gigantic sense of humor as she tickled our funny bone about invading Yogi's space, being the personification of a magical unicorn, and why she thinks if the MPAA rated people, it would slap her with an R.
Movies.com: In Yogi Bear when you are in scenes talking to Yogi and Boo-Boo, were Dan Akyroyd and Justin Timberlake there?
Anna Faris: Dan and Justin were not there. What a bummer, right? Sometimes there would be stand-ins dressed in weird fuzzy bear outfits, and sometimes they had stuffed heads or tennis balls.
Movies.com: This is the first 3D movie that you’ve physically appeared in, even though you voiced a character in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. To 3D or not to 3D, that is the question.
Faris: We actually shot this in 3D—not in post-production—so it was really technical. We had to wait for the lighting to be right and it sometimes took hours to set up single shots. That just requires patience. As far as being an audience member, I'm on the fence. I think it works great with Yogi Bear, but I don't know if I would necessarily go to see a movie only because it is in 3D.
Movies.com: Your character, Rachel, channels a jungle cat and an angry gorilla. In real life, what animal do you most resemble?
Faris: A unicorn? [pauses] A magical unicorn—mystic, stunning [laughs]. I'm sticking with that answer.
Movies.com: If the MPAA rated your sense of humor in real life, what would they assign you?
Faris: That's a good one! I guess I have to go with R, because I'm not NC-17 because I don't love raunch just for the sake of raunch. I'm not really impressed when people are just filthy and rely on that to get laughs. But I'm also rarely offended, so I guess I would have to go with a solid R rating.
Movies.com: Is there a limit for you on-screen?
Faris: It has to be true to the character. If I'm playing a racist character, then I would be racist. Or if I'm playing a hooker, I would be a hooker. You have to base it in truth and not be afraid of what your audience might think of you as a person because of the character you are playing. It's tough to distance yourself and, especially as a woman, there is always this pressure to play likeable characters. I try not to be afraid to be hated for a role, like my character in Observe and Report, who was pretty awful, or in Lost in Translation. I have fun with that stuff.
Movies.com: Come clean—was your character in Lost in Translation really based on Cameron Diaz?
Faris: A year after we made that movie I was doing press for Scary Movie 2 and every journalist was asking me if it was based on Cameron Diaz, and I had no idea what they were talking about. For a year I was vehemently denying it, but if it was written like that I certainly didn't know. I never met Cameron and I like her work. I can't imagine that she's still thinking about it. That's how self-absorbed I am [laughs]!
Movies.com: Scream 4 opens in theaters this April. Has anyone proposed another Scary Movie sequel to you yet?
Faris: There are always rumblings going on every few months and I get a phone call from somebody involved, but I haven't heard anything of late.
Movies.com: You produced and helped bring The House Bunny to the screen. Why was this story about a Bunny who gets booted from the Playboy Mansion something that you wanted to bring to life, and do you think we'll see Shelley again on-screen?
Faris: I wanted to develop my own stuff and play characters that I wanted to play—I didn't want to be the bounce card to a comedic guy. I pitched the character to the writers, although my original version was really dark. I wanted Shelley to be kicked out of the Mansion because she had a meth addiction and she has to go back to a small Christian town. The writers called me a month later and said, "Or she could be a house mom at a sorority!" I guess that works! I hope we see Shelley again because I loved her so much.
Movies.com: You're also executive producing the romantic comedy What's Your Number starring yourself and Chris Evans. Will it be different than a typical rom-com?
Faris: I hope so! My character is—I hesitate to say she's a loser—but she's not far off: she's unemployed, she drinks too much and she sleeps with too many guys. Her perfect little sister is getting married to the perfect guy, so she feels a little bit lost in life. She's determined to not sleep with any more guys so she goes back through all her exes to find one that works.
Movies.com: You are also starring in the retro comedy Take Me Home Tonight, which is set in 1988 and loosely based on the Eddie Money song of the same name. What was 11-year-old Anna Faris like 22 years ago…anything like your character?
Faris: I was such a little nerd. I know a lot of actors say that, but I was cream of the crop. I was always acting, performing and making home movies. I'd sing and dance and annoy everyone around me. I was incredibly short with braces and big glasses in 1988. I'm a little mousey in Take Me Home Tonight, but it's a good movie and I'm proud of it.
Movies.com: Didn’t you win Stoner of the Year award from High Times magazine for one of your most underappreciated and hilarious roles, Jane F. in Gregg Araki's Smiley Face?
Faris: I was out of town, but I really wanted to be there to receive the award! They did mail it to me. It's a big bong that sits on my mantel, and sometimes… [lowers voice to a whisper] it gets used!
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