Unless you’ve never been to a theater, don’t subscribe to Netflix, or never turn on your cable, you’ve probably seen Anna Faris. Remember? She’s the ditz in Scary Movie, The Hot Chick, Lost in Translation…well, in a lot of movies. But, her character ranges and she always delivers the laughs. Anna is the go-to girl for Hollywood’s biggest comedies. Her name carries weight and she’s raking in top dollar. What more can an actress ask for? “I feel really fortunate that I’ve been able to do a variety of different characters. I hope that I continue. I hope that I get to play even more – I think in general, the theme for my characters is mostly stupidity, because even though they’re bitchy, they’re usually stupid. I’m not sure what that says about me…” Oh, Anna, you’re far from stupid.
So, where did the actress get her start? Was it film or acting school? The theater?
Keenan Ivory Wayans . “He, you know, is very dear to my heart. He gave me my first break in Scary Movie. And I know that he would really appreciate [The Dictator] – he loves humor that offends everybody equally. I’d love for him to see this. I’d love to be in the screening room as he watched it.”
The Scary Movie franchise has already released four successful movies and is in talks for a fifth. Just goes to show how landing the right project can really springboard an actor’s career.
I had a chance to chat with the Hollywood actress about her new movie. The Dictator tells the tale of a foreign dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy never comes to the country he so lovingly oppressed. All the makings of a comedy, right? Well, did we mention the all-star comedy lineup of Sacha Baron Cohen, John C. Reilly, and the writing and directing team behind Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm? Hold while I contain my excitement…
Anna was able to give us some insight about this comedy dream set and her character, which she describes as naïve.
“She’s very idealistic, I think, to a fault. And I think it’s easy for people to take advantage of her. But I think that she definitely had some qualities that some of my other characters have had in the past, you know, that naiveté that I tend to play a lot of. And I’m starting to think that I’m just really naïve in real life.”
Would you say this was a loose set with a lot of improv? Or was it really tight and to the script?
It was very, very loose. It took a little bit of a learning curve for me. It was unlike pretty much any filming process I had ever gone through before. And you really didn’t know where the scene was going to go. We had a script and we would do the scripted version a couple of times. And then, the writers and Sasha would collaborate. And then, next thing you know, you would be headed in a completely different direction.
So it forced you to really stay on your toes, which was hard, but also, sort of an exciting challenge for an actor. I mean, he would, you know, in a scene like where he was sort of supposed to be charmed by me, he would suddenly be threatening to kill me, or like calling me like a lesbian hobbit, or you know, grabbing me on the back of my head …
Was that just for fun or is that actually part of the movie?
A lot of that became a part of the movie. It was just sort of as an actor you’re like, all right, got to be game. You know, it was improv, but it was like improv class in a sense that you just sort of roll with the punches, literally.They’ve all known each other for years, all the writers and Larry and Sacha. And so, for me, my strategy was just, you know, being open to trying anything. The audition process was really fun for me. You know, we just did a lot of improv. We played a lot.It took me like I think three months to get the role. Like they auditioned. And then, I didn’t really hear anything. And so, it was kind of – I didn’t know what was going on. And ultimately, I have no idea why they chose me. Probably because I was willing to grow my arm pit hair.
We’re sure it’s much more than arm pit hair. See Anna in The Dictator with Sacha Baron Cohen in theatres May 16th.
Frank is an award winning screenwriter, freelance writer, and blogger for New York Film Academy. Hailing from the great state of New Jersey, Frank's been a New Yorker ever since he fell in love with the city while attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He currently resides in New York City, where he can be seen cafe hopping throughout the week.