In Faris’s breakout film, “The House Bunny,” in 2008, she played Shelley, a Playboy Bunny who takes charge of a nerdy sorority.
Teen-age girls relish the film’s empowering if somewhat head-scratching message—love yourself for who you are, but get a great makeover—and they especially relish the way Shelley commits people’s names to memory by intoning them in a growly demon voice: “The makers of “What’s Your Number? “We thought, Would twenty guys be too many for the audience to relate to her? “But if you take the number down—and we thought about fifteen, or even twelve—it makes the film less bold.
The actress was in a West Hollywood editing room to give notes on her new film, “What’s Your Number? So she works to diminish self-consciousness: she doesn’t watch her performance after a take or read her reviews, stays in at night for weeks on end, and, when she does go out, seeks anonymity behind one of her forty-nine pairs of sunglasses. ” doesn’t open until September, but it’s already ringed by skeptics.
” the director, Mark Mylod, asked solicitously.“My face! The mechanism that makes Faris Hollywood’s most original comic actress—a face as diagnostic as a polygraph pen—starts to quiver whenever she sees herself act or feels an ambient skepticism.
I.” T-shirts that Faris wears, and be noticeably heavier than a fashion model.
New Regency wanted Ally to be blond and trim and teeter around in high heels, as Faris had in “The House Bunny”—to embody the look for which the company was paying her $1.75 million.
Hutch Parker, the chairman of New Regency, the studio that’s backing the film, told me, “Anna’s betting that there’s another way to get on the list of leading comediennes than to be America’s sweetheart—and we’re betting that she’s right.”As it happens, bets on bawdy female-driven comedies are being placed across the board: “No Strings Attached” became a modest hit in January, “Bridesmaids” débuts in May, and “Bad Teacher” comes out in June.
The co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Amy Pascal, who green-lit “Bad Teacher”—which stars Cameron Diaz as a pot-smoking, student-cursing educator—views it as a litmus test: “It’s a comedy about a woman who behaves badly, who’s slackerish and unapologetically cynical in the exact way that audiences loved seeing Bill Murray. ” What’s at stake is not merely a tenable marketplace for “hard” female comedies but a fresh vantage on romance and, perhaps, a fresh way of seeing men and women.
Faris’s trademark is the power-through: after her character has done something incredibly stupid or embarrassing, she doubles down, gamely swinging a fist to rally a doomed effort. ” Ally plays darts with a British lover who believes she’s British, too, and, as her accent slips, drink by drink, from plummy Oxbridge to wobbly Cockney—“Bloody ’ell, I’m rubbish at this!
”—her voice cracks and her eyes go round, but, even as her delivery yaws toward Borat, she soldiers on. Abby Elliott’s impersonation of Faris on “Saturday Night Live” nails the way she purrs her vowels and drags the beat—“my ”—but it misses the actress’s warmth and self-amusement, her awareness that she’s toying with the vocabulary of helplessness.
(Parker argues that the grungy-bohemian idea was a cliché, and that “it felt like it would be too easy to write Ally off as a screwup if everything about her is a mess—if she’s just the female equivalent of a man-child.”) “A month before the shoot,” Faris said, “they got me a gym membership and a trainer, which is standard.” She added, deadpan, that after she lost five pounds “they sent me a bouquet—and said, ‘Don’t eat it.’ ” During the filming, she subsisted on turkey slices and carrot sticks.