June 2008 By Philip Berk
I hope all the acclaim Anna Faris is getting for The House Bunny isn’t going to her head.
The Hollywood trades have compared her favorably to no less than Marilyn Monroe and Judy Holliday.
Give me a break.
At her press conference she’s much like the character she plays in the movie, a Playboy bunny who gets kicked out of the Hugh Hefner’s Mansion. Faced with no job prospects she’s hired as a house mother for a sorority about to lose its charter.
The film is also a surprise hit displacing Tropic Thunder at the U.S. box office.
Up until now Faris is best known for her roles in the Scary Movies 1, 2, 3, and 4, although she been seen in small roles in serious films like Lost in Translation and Brokeback Mountain .
On House Bunny she’s billed as executive Producer, and supposedly she initiated the project.
Is that true?
“What happened was, a couple of years ago I was thinking about this character. What is your next stage in life after you’ve lived at the Playboy Mansion. What job skills have you acquired? And I told the writers of Legally Blonde. and they wrote this script. We pitched it all around town, and Adam Sandler’ s company and Sony bought it, and it’s a dream come true. It’s really empowering and inspiring to be a part of a project from the very beginning, and I’d love to do that again.”
Anything else you did to earn that credit?
“I had a hand in some of the casting. Certainly the wardrobe. But you’ll notice we have quite a few producers (seven to be exact) people who are much more experienced and who know much more than I do, but I think the girls were impressed.”
By girls she’s referring to the mostly unknowns who play the sorority sisters, including Rumer Willis.
How scary, excuse the pun, was it knowing you were carrying the entire movie on your shoulders?
“Scary is the wrong word. I was excited. It was a whole different kind of investment. I wanted everybody to feel important and valid. I didn’t want any petty drama at all. So the director and I worked hard to create a supportive environment. All the girls became close. We were like a sorority and I was their house mother.”
How familiar were you with Playboy and how much research did you do for the film?
“The first time I saw a Playboy I was about nine. The boy next-door had his dad’s copy. It left a big impression. (no pun intended) But the first time I ever visited the mansion was when we started shooting, and I became friendly with some of the bunnies. And I was fascinated by their lifestyles. I found them to be really charming girls, which took me by surprise. I expected competitiveness, and I didn’t see any of that. They were incredibly generous of spirit and really sweet loving girls.”
Were you a member of a sorority when you attended college?
“I thought about joining one, but I didn’t think it was for me so I lived in a dorm. It didn’t seem there was a sorority that I would fit into. I didn’t want the rules. I didn’t want to dress a certain way, but looking back I wish I had.”
In exploring Shelley (the character she plays) did you discovered anything about yourself?
“I found out I really enjoyed feeling sexy. At first it was really hard for me to wear those outfits because I usually play characters that are much more innocent, although in her own way Shelly is also sweet and innocent. But it was new for me to be showing off my body like that. At first I was shy, but then after a while I felt, ‘Uhm, maybe this is kind of nice.’ That surprised me about myself.”
To get a guy you have to be sexy. Is that a healthy message you’re sending out to young girls?
“I hoped that we made it clear that while Shelly’s intentions were good, the way she goes about things was all wrong. My mom was very determined that I not be boy crazy, that I be a kid as long as possible, and I think that contributed to my nerdiness. But at the same time I don’t want to pass judgment on someone who poses for Playboy. And I don’t want the movie to do so either. Originally we toyed with the idea of Shelley going to college, but then we felt college isn’t the answer for everybody.”
How old were you when you first start dating?
“I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 17. And I wasn’t very good at it. I remember it feeling like I was eating a slug.”
When did you first realize you could play funny?
“I didn’t. I grew up very dramatic and very serious. I took myself very seriously. When I was first cast in Scary Movie, I told a college friend who responded, “That’s so weird because you aren’t funny.” I was so scared they were going to fire me. But thankfully with those Scary movies you have to play it very dramatically. But I think comedy has allowed me to laugh at myself more than I used to. And I love bringing joy to people.”
Did you have to get in shape for the part?
“I worked out quite a bit for about four weeks. I’m not a natural athlete. I did a lot running and pilates. It was really had work.”
What is your relationship to fashion?
“I’ve never been fashion conscious. I grew up in the grunge era, baggy flannel skirts. In Seattle it was about hiding your body, not showing it off. I’m still a very casual girl. I like jeans, T-shirts and tennis shoes. Very comfortable clothes.”
You’ve been quoted as saying you like to wear men’s clothes. What does that mean?
“I do. I tend to like straight lines. I don’t like too many ruffles.”
For some strange reason she was reluctant to tell us she was no longer married.
When asked what she learned about being sexy from her husband, she answered that we tend to be more “similar than we think.
“It’s nice to have separate identities, but for the most part we are the same. But I have to, I should tell you, I am divorced. I got divorced last year. We both are in great happy places. And we’re on very good terms. We just reached a place in our marriage where we realized we were just good friends.”
So will success spoil Anna Faris?
“I hope not. I remember when I was 13 I was doing a radio interview in Seattle and I felt I had to be somebody else. And I came off sounding really snooty. And my parents were really ashamed of me. ‘That’s not who you are! What are you doing!’ Ever since then I try to stay pretty grounded.”
For the record she likes living in L.A.
As she puts it, “The people might be fake here, but they’re friendly.”