Fast Chat: Anna Faris' 'Dictator' role

Anna Faris poses for a publicity photo. (May Anna Faris poses for a publicity photo. (May 2012) Photo Credit: John Russo/

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Anna Faris gave heart to the raunchy "Scary Movie" franchise, supplied girl-next-door va-voom as "The House Bunny" and won a Stoney Award from High Times magazine for her tour de force performance in the stoner comedy "Smiley Face." Even now, playing the feminist-vegan manager of an organic food co-op in Sacha Baron Cohen's "The Dictator," opening May 16, she's a grungy pixie in overalls and armpit hair.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Edmonds, Wash., Faris, 35, started as a child actress playing dramatic roles in the likes of Arthur Miller plays. After doing commercials, training films and a movie or two, she found stardom as wide-eyed waif Cindy Campbell in four "Scary Movie" films (2000-2006) and in the recurring role of Erica, the mother of Chandler and Monica's adoptive child, in the final season of "Friends."

Faris -- who married second husband Chris Pratt ("Moneyball," "Parks and Recreation") in 2009 (they just announced they're expecting their first child) -- spoke with frequent Newsday contributor Frank Lovece.

You, Kristen Wiig and Gillian Jacobs were all up for the part of Zooey in "The Dictator," since they were looking for actresses who could improv. How improvisational did it turn out to be?

Very. Sacha uses the script as sort of a very, very, very loose framework, so he was always doing improv and taking the scene in a gazillion different directions. So you were forced to just keep up with him and play and go wherever he wanted to go with it. I've been part of a lot of movies where we've done improv, and I always felt like as long as I'm sincere and earnest in the scene, that was my strategy.

 

So when he was riding behind you on the scooter and grabbed your breasts to hold on . . . ?

That was improv!

My goodness. How did you not crash the scooter?

Luckily we were being pulled by a little tractor. I had just kind of gotten used to his craziness and his physicality -- the day before we'd done this crazy hugging scene where he wouldn't stop hugging me and he was sort of mauling my body. So you just sort of learn [giggles], "Oh! My body's not my own anymore!"

Which explains the gags focusing on armpit hair. Did you use an armpit double?

No, the hair was mine! I grew it out for the production. I had long armpit hair for, like, six months.

What did your husband think?

He was so sweet to me, he was so supportive, he was, like, "Honey, I love it, you do it, this is your role, you own it, baby!" But he also didn't have to spend that much time with me because I was in New York, and he was in L.A.

So let's confirm: Are you in "Scary Movie 5," which is set to shoot this summer?

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No, I don't think I'm involved with that.

How about the "Untitled Lego Project"?

Oh, that's odd, because my husband, Chris Pratt, is doing the Lego movie. It's from the director of [the animated] "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" . I think we're making a sequel to that.

Going the other way: Your first screen role was in a frozen-yogurt commercial when you were 14. First, what yogurt, and second, is it on YouTube?

Oh, no way! I am not going to tell you! I have no idea if it's on YouTube, but, man, that would be mortifying! I do know my third or fourth job was a training video for Red Robin, which is a burger chain out West. I play, like, the perfect hostess. And I think they still use it. About six months ago, this girl came running up to me and she's like, "Oh my god! I just got a job at Red Robin, and you are on the training video!" I just freaked out. It was like my heart just sort of sunk a little bit.

Maybe this will cheer you up: You were ranked No. 57 on the Maxim Hot 100 list in 2004, when you were in your 20s. But in the last three years, you've ranked between No. 39 and 44. So, you're getting hotter as you get older?

Really? I moved up, huh? I guess that's kinda nice, isn't it? One of these days, maybe I'll crack the top 30 or 35!

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