Capone and Anna Faris chat about skanks, drunks, vomit, Linda Lovelace, and OBSERVE AND REPORT!!!
Published at: April 6, 2009, 10:09 a.m. CST by Capone
Hey folks. Capone in Chicago here, continuing my coverage of SXSW Film Festival with my interview with one of the stars of possibly my favorite film of the fest, writer-director Jody Hill's troubling and wildly entertaining OBSERVE AND REPORT. In my humble estimation, the lovely and absolutely sweet Anna Faris is the funniest woman in film today. Most of us caught our first glimpse of Faris as Cindy Campbell from the SCARY MOVIE quadrilogy, and it became clear that there was very little she wouldn't do or say for a laugh. Even in supporting roles, Faris made her presence know, with appearances in movies like MAY, THE HOT CHICK, a hilarious turn in LOST IN TRANSLATION, WAITING, and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. As strange as it may be to single out her short run on five episodes of "Friends" in 2004, for many in the mainstream, that guest shot got her her largest audience. I was one of the many vocal supporters of Faris' above-the-title starring turn in the veiled female empowerment film THE HOUSE BUNNY. Faris took her dumb blonde act and turned it into something inspiring. And I loved her playing a less secure version of herself on “Entourage” a couple seasons ago.
She plays someone a whole lot less likable in OBSERVE AND REPORT. She plays Brandi, a department store clerk who is unwitting object of Seth Rogen affections, but she's also a gin-soaked slutty bitch, and my guess is that even knowing that, most of you would still fall for a woman like Brandi because she is where the party's at. She's great in this movie, but in way we've never seen her play before. She has teeth, and they are full of venom.
If release schedules still mean anything these days, we should have many other opportunities to see Faris before the year is out, in such films as the British sci-fi comedy FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TIME TRAVEL; YOUNG AMERICANS; and the Sony Pictures Animation work CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS this fall. On top of everything, Anna Faris is an absolute doll who embraces her comedic gifts and never fails to make me laugh and love her. We enjoyed a lovely Austin afternoon in the sun as we chatted. Oh, and she was also sporting a lovely and large (and newly placed) engagement ring from actor Chris Pratt. The damn thing almost blinded me. Enjoy Ms. Faris!
Capone: Hey, nice to meet, Anna.
Anna Faris: Nice to meet you too.
Capone: You were the only person from the film that I didn't see at the party last night.
AF: I was there early. If you had seen me, you would have seen me at my most charming--a little boozed up [laughs]. But I left kind of early.
Capone: I'm sorry I missed that. Jody Hill told me last night that he was hesitant to hire you even before your audition, only because he was going for non-comedic actors, other than Seth. But that when you came in for the audition, he pretty much had to admit that it had to be you.
AF: Yeah, I knew there was some hesitation, even before my audition. He was hesitant to even see me audition, I think. But we pushed for it, and they finally said okay. I had a bunch of friends audition for the role, so I knew they were searching. So Jody auditioned me, and it was one of their characters that was so specifically well written that it makes your job so much easier. It was like, "Oh, I know this girl; I know how to say this line. This is going to be funny. I know what to do with this." Cleavage! Nails! I auditioned for it; I auditioned again; we did a lot of improv, and they hired me. It's rewarding, on the one hand, to fight for a role and actually get it; you feel like you've really earned it, and there's this sense of security, because I wasn't offered this. They know what I'm going to do with this. Like, I had a tiny role in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, and that I was offered, and I was just terrified. "Ang Lee doesn't know what I'm going to do with this, and I'm going to get fired." So it was really rewarding to get it, but also a little scary because I knew he was a little hesitant.
Capone: He said he was going for the more serious actor type, like Michael Peña.
AF: Hey, what other actress is going to vomit on herself? [laughs]
Capone: Good point. I was going to ask you about that later. We've certainly seen our fair share of drunks on screen before, what is your secret to tapping into your inner drunk?
AF: [In her extra high-pitched girly voice] Just be myself [laughs]. No. I think it's really tough to play drunk, actually. It's really hard. There are all kinds of drunks--people who slur, but there are people that don't.
Capone: I love that your vomit was pink, like a pink Slurpee.
AF: And I think it was. It was a combination of fruit juice and yogurt, and then they put chunks in it. That scene was really tricky because I had to hold the vomit in my mouth and I'm mumbling, so I couldn't hold that much. [laughs] But yeah, pretending to do pills as well helped me get the performance good and wobbly.
Capone: Very convincing. I also told Jody that I thought the film was one of the best amoral works in recent memory.
Capone: Were you in the theater last night?
Capone: So you heard that one particular moment when the crowd goes silent during your sex scene. People were ready to walk out. And you have the one line that saves the entire film from going straight to hell. And then the audience lets out that collective nervous laughter.
AF: It was really rewarding to see people squirm like that and feel the tension, and then the release of it is a cool thing to watch an audience go through. But when we were shooting that scene, I didn't think there was any way that Warner Bros. was going to let that fly. So I was like, "Yeah, I'll do this." I was nervous, of course, but…
Capone: When you came in for your audition, how far along in the production process was the film?
AF: I came in quite late; they were only a few weeks away from shooting. It was great. Now, most of the projects that I'm involved with, I'm with almost from their genesis. So the process is so long and difficult and exhausting, and it's easy to lose enthusiasm for something you've been working on for two years, and easy to get distracted. But it's also great to see it finally realized. So this was a cool change of pace--audition and then flying out to Albuquerque.
Capone: I hesitate to ask, but did you base Brandi on somebody you know or knew?
AF: I think that she's the girl we all know or knew back in high school.
Capone: There's a part of me that wish I'd known somebody like that, and a part of me that is so glad I never knew somebody like that.
AF: [laughs] You know, I went up to the producer at one point and said, "Brandi is awful, isn't she?" And he was like, "I just love Brandi. I love her so much. We are going to miss Brandi so much." That's nice, I guess, in a twisted way. It's kind of cool in a way to watch someone so narcissistic and make such a spectacle of herself. I've played a couple characters like her before, somebody so…it's almost like they can't read other people's facial expressions and has no idea how anyone is perceiving them.
Capone: You mentioned this at the panel this morning, but the original R-rated HOUSE BUNNY script sounds fabulous. I can't believe there was a draft of that story where she was a drug-addicted slut. And you've got something else going on with the team that wrote that movie?
AF: Yeah, we've got another project with Paramount, and they're working on that. That'll be a female buddy comedy. We don't know who the other woman is. Any ideas?
Capone: Wow, put me on the spot. I guess I'd have to know what the two of you would be doing, but I could probably give you a few names. If you stay blonde, you should go with a dark brunette partner.
AF: Yeah. And I'm also working on a few things…I've gotten to the point in my career where I realized that if I want to play the kind of roles that I want to, I'm going to have to be more proactive and develop them myself like the big boys do.
Capone: You said you wanted to make these movies about women you don't see on the screen, who aren't dressed to the nines all the time. I believe you referred to these projects as the anti-SEX AND THE CITY.
AF: And I love SEX AND THE CITY, I really do. I make my fiancée watch it all the time. But we've seen a lot of these women that are ambitious, they want to have it all--the guy, the clothes, the career. I want to see a woman on screen that doesn't want anything, who's completely content with her loser station in life, whatever that is. And I'm really interested in exploring that idea.
Capone: And playing a character like that.
AF: Yeah. We're working on some stuff, but I'm not quite sure what that's going to be yet. But I really want to see that girl.
Capone: I guess the real question is, do women want to see women like that in movies?
AF: Yeah, I don't know. The closest thing I've done to that is this character called Jane in a movie called SMILEY FACE, where I just love weed and am a total loser. And it was just so fun to not play a character obsessed with guys. I don't know, I'm thinking out loud, sorry.
Capone: Back to HOUSE BUNNY for a minute, even in the form it was released, I gave that film a rave review. I thought it was hilarious.
AF: Thank you!
Capone: I've always enjoyed your comedy performances, but I loved the underlying message. It's the ultimate female empowerment movie embodied in the least likely character.
AF: Yes, I know. Thank you for saying that.
Capone: There was one project that you were connected with for a long time, and now you aren't--this Linda Lovelace project, which sounded like it would have really tested you as an actress. If you're going to tell stories about messed-up chicks, she's about as messed up as you can go. But now you're not involved with that. If you don't mind my asking, what happened there.
AF: I'm not. A few things culminated all at once. The financing was always…I mean, it's a dark movie, and the script is beautifully written, and I couldn't believe they wanted me. I was shocked because nobody thinks of me for dramatic roles. So there were a few things happening: financing was a little shaky, timing was a little rocky because they wanted to go originally when I had a conflict, and then they wanted to go right before THE HOUSE BUNNY was released. And a few things happened. I started to think, how does this juxtaposition itself in the public eye--I'm playing a Playboy bunny who lives in a completely sheltered, fantasy Disneyland version of that world, and then I'd be playing someone kind of similar but in a terrifying way. So I wondered how we could address the timing of this a bit. But around them I also came to the realization that for so many years I felt like I had to do something dramatic to prove myself to the industry or my parents or whoever that I can be a dramatic actress, "I know I can." But then I was like, "I can't quite understand why I feel this way. I love comedy, I love making comedies. I love the challenge of it and the joy it brings to people. I'm not quite sure why I feel this need to improve to myself, whatever that means. Why do I have to validate the industry? You know what? Comedy is challenging.
Capone: And you're one of the best at it, no doubt. I just thought the movie sounded like a real powerhouse project.
AH: It's a truly beautiful script, so well done. And who knows, maybe it could be in my future again if they'll still have me. I haven't heard that they've moved on. I know there were a couple other actresses they were talking to, but I'm not sure. But that story is a journey; it's a rough one. There are scenes in there that would take--and I'm a pretty brave gal--but they would take everything I have. We'll see.
Capone: Well, good luck with all the self-generated projects, and with OBSERVE AND REPORT. I'm really curious to see how the world responds to it.
AH: Thanks. And thank you for your support on THE HOUSE BUNNY.
Capone: Sure thing. And that trailer for the TIME TRAVEL movie looks really good.
AH: Oh cool. My role in that isn't that substantial, but it is funny and those guys are good, really talented. Great meeting you.