Ari Graynor is a bad girl—or at least that's what she'll have you believe on Bad Teacher, her new CBS sitcom inspired by the Cameron Diaz film premiering on April 24. She plays a sexy, foul-mouthed divorcée who lies her way into a teaching job in order to find her next husband. But when it comes down to it, Graynor is a sweet, fun-loving actress.
"I'm much more of a good girl than people would peg me as," says Graynor. "That's not to say I don't have a sassy side." That other side of her may explain why we come to love her in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Whip It, and For a Good Time Call... (Those roles were definitely not about being a good girl.)
Ahead of the premiere of Graynor's new show, the actress opened up about whie lies, getting advice from Robert De Niro, and the Law & Order rite of passage.
Out: What's the biggest lie you've ever told?
Ari Graynor: Probably when I was 18 and made out with another guy when I had a boyfriend. But that has not been a life pattern! That was definitely pre-20s.
If you have a secret identity, what would it be?
I would love to be some dark and surly British woman in publishing who holds all kinds of secrets about all the major cultural players throughout literary history. I just have this image of me with a black bob and a cigarette and a really deep voice with a British accent. Maybe I'm also a secret agent.
Who was your favorite teacher growing up?
I had this really wonderful English teacher who was also my senior year adviser named Rob Leith. He was the best. He was really hard. He was really smart. But he was engaging and creative. He made me think and understand words in a different kind of way. I still use what he taught me in that class. Big shout out and thanks to Mr. Leith.
What's the best advice you ever received?
I remember I once sat on a plane next to Robert De Niro. It was the craziest plane ride because we ended up talking about life. I remember we were talking about auditions and I asked him about the last time he auditioned. He told me he used to tell his daughter, "You can never be whatever they think they want. So you might as well go in and do whatever you want and they'll either like it or they won't." I think that's really true in auditions and really true in life.
What's the sexiest part of a man's body?
The place right behind the ear into the neck area. It's a nice secret little spot.
What was it like to work on Law & Order: SVU?
It was really exciting as an actor working in New York. Being on any of the Law & Orders is a total rite of passage. You don't have your badge in being an actor in New York, especially in the early 2000s, if you haven't been on one of the Law & Order shows.
It was majorly exciting but also super confusing because I still don't quite understand how I gave my sister gonorrhea. It has haunted me for years for 10 years. I'm still trying to figure that one out.
Is there a club for all the young actors that have guest starred on the show?
It's funny because I was doing a play. It had a really amazing cast of young actors. It was me, America Ferrera, Kelli Garner, Eliza Dushku, Ian Somerhalder, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Logan Marshall Green, Keith Nobbs and we had all been on one of the Law & Orders. When we were writing our bios we wanted to all end our bios with our Law & Order credits. We didn't end up doing it but it was one of those things we had a laugh about.
Your co-star Sara Gilbert recently got married to Linda Perry. Did you go to their wedding?
It was the honor of all honors to be there. It was one of the most gorgeous weddings I've ever been to. It was stunning. It's so amazing you go to weddings and even though their all built on love and this enormous moment in two people's lives, sometimes it can feel not that personal. It's always surprising to me. But their wedding was just them in every way. Their vows were gorgeous. Sara Gilbert has become one of my favorite people in the entire world.
Time to play Fuck/Marry/Kill: Colin Hanks (Lucky, Bad Teacher), Mark Webber (For a Good Time Call...), and Ryan Hansen (Bad Teacher)
Let's say I would marry Ryan Hansen because we spend the most time together on the show and he is the sweetest man. Oh god, I don't know what to do. [Screams] I guess I'll fuck Colin—even though when we had to have sex in a movie, we did together. We became such good friends that we joked there was zero sexual tension between the two of us. We had to drink an entire bottle of wine before we had sex. And I'll only say kill Mark Webber because he's not on Bad Teacher, so I won't have to face him.
What's your spirit animal?
My spirit animal is a chocolate Labrador that can speak in Barbra Streisand's voice.