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Anna Faris (Shelley Darlingson) - The House Bunny

Interview image

Anna Faris was born in Baltimore, USA, on 29 November 1976. After graduating from the University of Washington in English Literature, she decided to leave for London to work and write, but after filming Lovers Lane (1999) and a short for the Seattle Film Festival, she decided to give Los Angeles a try. Not long after she was cast in Scary Movie (2000). Since then she's made guest appearance on TV shows (Friends, King of the Hill) as well as continuing to work in movies (Brokeback Mountain, Scary Movie 2-4). caught up with Faris as her movie The House Bunny was released on Blu-ray and DVD...

Reviewgraveyard: One of the most memorable running gags in The House Bunny is the way your character remembers people’s names. Where did that idea come from?

Interview imageAnna Faris: It was a last minute decision. The director just said for me to try something so we came up with that - and totally freaked the other girls out.

At first we thought we’d gone too far and that it wouldn’t make it into the film but I’m so glad it stayed. It’s a weird joke and I love that its there. I like that weirder stuff.

RG: Your character in The House Bunny is pretty outlandish, isn’t she?

AF: Yeah, I guess that's the Happy Madison sensibility, but we tried to have a bit of a heart to the movie and a little bit of a message. My goal as well was to not get too wrapped up in it being a romantic comedy. I'm glad that the romance is in there, and I love Colin [Hanks], but it definitely wasn't my goal to make another romantic comedy. In most female comedies the romance is a huge part of it but not so much in the guy movies, so I wanted to bring some of that to this film.

RG: What was your goal, since you also produced the film?

Interview imageAF: Initially I came up with the character and pitched it to the writers of Legally Blonde and said: "You know, I'm thinking about this girl who lives at the Mansion and she gets kicked out because she has a really bad drug problem, and she ends up going back to her small Christian town where everybody judges her, and maybe her dad hits her and she's going through this personal struggle..."

And they were, like: "Hmm. Okay. Or, she could be a house mom at a sorority." And I was like: "Well, okay. There goes my chance to do a big dramatic turn." But I'm really happy with what we ended up with. I'm proud that it’s one of the few female comedies out there.

RG: Do you think the essence of your character stayed the same?

AF: As we started to develop the project we realised that we had to be careful in how we handled the idea of a Playboy Bunny. We realised that if we wanted the movie to be a PG-13 and to appeal to a wide audience we were gonna have to paint a very hazy version of that world. As that became clear we had to make clear that Shelley is an innocent.

Interview imageRG: Is that like you?

AF: [Laughs] I’d like to think I’m an optimist but I’m not an innocent.

RG: How did you find life at the Playboy Mansion?

AF: It was really fun. I had to keep pinching myself, it was a complete dream.

Hef's bedroom is huge but so messy, and there’s a weird control panel from like the seventies. And there’s a huge chandelier like dripping with thongs, there's stuffed animals everywhere and old magazines.

Part of it is, like: "Okay, he's a sex god." And the other part of it is: "He's a hoarder like my grandparents keeping newspapers from 1983." There's just crap everywhere.
I probably wouldn’t say this back in the States. But Hef was very charming.

RG: Did you go to any of the parties?

AF: Yeah. It was crazy. I didn’t go into the cave or anything. I think it must be a much more tame version than it used to be.

RG: Would you consider doing a centrefold?

Interview imageAF: I have. I used to think ‘no way’ but I did the cover of Playboy, without being naked, and I found myself at the shoot being like: "I should’ve taken it all off!"

I wanted to say: "Yeah, let’s do it. It’ll be artful!" But my publicist didn't think so, and my friends were like: "No, don't."

I was in New York recently and I had these two guys yelling at me; they wanted their money back because they thought I was going to be naked. Which is kind of flattering, actually.

RG: How did you cope with having to wear those high-heeled shoes?

AF: I loved walking in those shoes! There was a scene where the director wanted me to take off the shoes so I wouldn't be towering over the other girls, but I was like: "No, I can’t be Shelley and not be in the shoes."

Even when I'm naked I'm wearing the shoes and I really became addicted to them. They force you to walk in a certain way. I liked their teetering nature because I thought that was so in line with Shelley's personality. And I kept them all. I don't know if I could wear them anymore though.

RG: Do you find that being blonde in Hollywood does mean you’re sometimes pigeonholed?

Interview imageAF: Maybe initially when people weren’t too familiar with my work. I had really dark hair for the first two Scary Movies, which were kind of the first things I had done, and I found that I got fewer auditions as a brunette, but they tended to be better roles.

But I think once people get to know your personality, or think they do, then you can get past that. In real life my hair is like the colour of ash - the colour of a mouse. Like a non-colour, there’s no pigment in it.

RG: Are you frustrated by the lack of big comedy roles out there for women? Is that why you initiated this project?

AF: Yeah. I definitely felt like: "What am I waiting around for?" It's frustrating getting scripts where you’re the 'straight man' to a really funny guy. For a while there were a lot of scripts where the girl was a super control freak who had her whole life together and something goes wrong, and then "Oh my God, meltdown."

Interview imageI just didn’t want to see that any more so I wanted to try and take control a little bit. I would love to do it again. Happy Madison and Sony really made the process easy for me and I don't think it will be that easy again. Or maybe it will be, I don’t know? But it felt really good just to be more proactive.

For a while there was nothing out there. It was tough. I was surprised they kept me around for all the Scary Movies even. You would've thought that would go to a guy.

RG: Is comedy something you want to focus on or would you like to do something more dramatic?

AF: I grew up so dramatic. I was such a serious child. No one thought I was funny. After I got the first couple of Scary Movies, I couldn't even get auditions for dramatic work. It was strange to me that Hollywood viewed dramatic acting and comedic acting very differently, because for me the approach is very similar.

But when I was younger, as a college grad I thought: "I am going to prove to Hollywood that I can do dramatic too." And I never got that opportunity. But I am so happy that I am in comedy. I get the opportunity to laugh all day long and make other people laugh and do really silly things and I feel very fortunate that that’s how I’ve ended up.

RG: Are men intimidated that you might be funnier than them?

Interview imageAF: I don’t know. I think I surround myself with confident guys, I guess. I couldn’t be with somebody that couldn’t make me laugh or I couldn’t make them laugh. It’s risk-taking to make a joke and it requires a lot of fearlessness.

RG: How do you find British humour?

AF: Everybody loves the British actors but the humour is different. I’m lucky, my parents were huge fans of Fawlty Towers so we watched a lot of that and Monty Python, the good stuff.

RG: What was it like on set? You’d perhaps expect, with a collection of young female actors, for there to be a lot of competition. Was it like that?

AF: I made a really conscious effort to have all the girls become friends and to create a supportive environment. A few of them had never been in a movie before so I wanted everyone to feel comfortable and to have a really good time.

Interview imageI always think that if you’re having a good time then the audience will have a good time watching you. There may have been a couple of moments but they were great and they’re all still friends. It was fantastic, really.

RG: And how was it having Rumer Willis [the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore] in the movie? Did you have expectations of her?

AF: I didn’t know any famous people’s children so I didn’t know what to expect but she is so sweet and so humble, just a lovely, lovely girl, very modest. She was 18 when we first started the movie and now every time I see her she’s more confident and becoming this great woman. Her parents did come to the set a couple of times, though and that did freak me out.

RG: Did they say anything to you?

AF: They were always really nice, they’d just sit behind the monitors or something.

RG: Thank you for your time.

Interview image
With thanks to Bola Akande at Greenroom.

The House Bunny is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment from 09 February 2009.

Click here to buy The House Bunny on Blu-ray for £14.98 (RRP: £24.99)
Click here to buy The House Bunny on DVD for £10.98 (RRP: £19.99)

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