Anna Faris might be unqualified to host Anna Faris Is Unqualified, the relationship advice podcast she started last year. But Faris is extremely qualified for many things: Dark comedy, arthouse drama, spoof, romcom, sitcom. Currently, she’s starring opposite Allison Janney as one of Mom‘s moms, but she recently appeared for a brilliant sequence in Keanu, playing a wildly unhinged version of herself.
“I moved [to Hollywood] in 1999, and as I’ve gone along, there’s been a few moments and characters that I’ve been able to have some degree of control over, and that has felt really wonderful,” Faris tells EW. “Jane in Smiley Face, my character in Just Friends, my character Ally in What’s Your Number? Those projects, I was given a lot of creative freedom.”
Faris hesitates, before adding one more movie to that list: “Truthfully, The House Bunny.” In the mid-2000s, Faris had been struggling to get a lead role in a movie. So she worked on developing her own material — and the result was The House Bunny, which she pitched with writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. Faris had an executive producer credit on Bunny — and played the lead role, a Playboy Bunny who becomes the house mother of a college sorority. She looks back on the film with what you might call “embarrassed pride.”
“We created that character together, we created the story together” she says. “It was frivolous and silly, but I still felt a lot of love toward that project, and it makes me very grateful that a lot of people still love it, and that I was involved in the making of it and selling of it.”
Faris can be self-deprecating about many of her famous roles; on Unqualified, she frequently pokes fun at her past with the Scary Movie franchise. “I’m embarrassed of all my parts,” she admits, almost laughing. She’s too nice to ever really speak ill of her Scary Movie work — she appeared in the first four Scary Movies from 2000 to 2006 — but she does admit that it set her career in a specific direction. “I couldn’t get an audition for anything dramatic for a long time,” she says. “I was sort of known as this comedy spoof person.”
Ironically, Mom has given Faris some of her most dramatic material ever. Playing a recovering addict struggling towards a law degree, Faris has shined. “I love that we get to play those moments of tragedy and real human connection in a format that is not known for that,” she says. “I’m so lucky to have Allison Janney and our brilliant writers and Chuck Lorre giving us the most brilliant material. With Mom, we’re doing something that feels… ‘lofty’ is the wrong word, but something that feels important, that’s touching people.”
One role that Faris doesn’t look back on fondly: Her first one. Faris was preparing for life after college (she graduated from the University of Washington) and was planning to move to London to work as a receptionist at an ad agency. Acting beckoned. “I got this really s—y job,” she says, before backtracking, “It wasn’t a s—y job.” But it was: “This horror movie Lovers Lane. Oh god. I get gutted. I’m a cheerleader who gets gutted!”
If she could survive that, what isn’t she qualified for?
Faris will be doing a live taping of her Anna Faris Is Unqualified podcast with guest Seth Rogen at EW PopFest on Sunday, Oct. 30. Click the banner above for details and tickets.