Anna Faris is a woman on top

By Michele Manelis

Anna Faris talks to Michele Manelis about her new sex comedy.

Faris is not afraid to make a fool of herself in her comedy performances. Photo / Supplied
Faris is not afraid to make a fool of herself in her comedy performances. Photo / Supplied

It's been the year of the raunchy rom-com. In a wave which began with No Strings Attached (Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher) and then Friends with Benefits (Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis), comes What's Your Number, another sexually free-spirited Hollywood comedy about a platonic relationship between two 20-somethings.

Anna Faris stars opposite Chris Evans, last seen as Captain America. The two attractive friends banter, spend a great deal of time in their underwear (for no apparent reason), and counsel each other about the opposite sex.

The "number" in the film's title concerns the number of sexual partners Faris' character Ally can count in her dating history after taking the word of relationship expert Dr Fig who stipulates that women are considered "marriage-worthy" only if their number falls under 10.5 - or, bizarrely, if they live in New Zealand.

That's not explained, though Faris made headlines here after talkshow comments she made claiming she'd been verbally harassed by local men when she was filming Yogi Bear.

(The new film's publicists had warned revisiting the controversy was a no-no).

In person, Faris is genuine, funny, and thoroughly likeable. At 34, she's become Hollywood's go-to girl for roles requiring edgy humour. She's endowed with the right measure of sexual allure so as not to alienate her female fanbase.

"It's important for me to appeal to the girls. Women want to see all kinds of women on screen, not just the really ambitious types we see a lot of, who are always trying to manage everything. We also need to see lost women, too. That's why I liked this role of Ally. She seemed real to me. She's messy, sarcastic, and she drinks a lot."

On a deeper level, Faris was attracted to the underlying message of the story. "This is a woman who's changing herself for everyone around her. She's trying to figure out who she is in terms of how people see her. Hopefully, the movie is about finding yourself."

Faris also served as executive producer. She says, off-handedly, "Well, it doesn't really mean much. The studio pretends to ask your opinion. Sometimes they listened, sometimes they didn't."

Clearly, this is a good time for women in comedy. "Oh, it's a really exciting time. When I used to pitch projects to studios, the first question was always, 'Well, is it R-rated? If it is, it has to be changed.' And, then the next question was always, 'But is this character loveable? We will fall in love with her?'

"That puts so much pressure on your performance and limits your comedy because it means you can't be flawed."

A lot has changed in a few short years. "Yes. In Bridesmaids women were pooping in the streets."

With the ability to make the audience laugh and cringe simultaneously, it's her fearlessness that has separated her from other actresses. It's this quality which attracted Sasha Baron Cohen, who cast her in his upcoming movie, The Dictator, which she is sworn to secrecy about: "But I can say that watching Sasha is watching a comedy genius in action."

Faris is married to actor Chris Pratt (from sitcom Parks and Recreation), who also features in What's Your Number as one of her boyfriends. "I loved working with my husband although it was pressure in that I was really nervous to act in front of him because I respect him so much. I suppose I don't mind strangers judging me, but it's tough when it's your partner," she says. "Actually, I was hoping he'd be a little jealous of Chris Evans, but that didn't happen. I thought, 'Finally, I'll have two men fighting over me'."

LOWDOWN

Who: Anna Faris
What: What's Your Number, at cinemas now

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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