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Anna Faris: Fool's Gold


Could Anna Faris be the most fearless funny girl of our generation? The actress has made a career out of playing smashed, slutty, and stupid (occasionally all at the same time). On-screen, she's been kicked, run over, repeatedly whacked in the head, shagged silly, and blasted across the room by a torrent of projectile spooge (twice). She's farted, upchucked, and biffed it more times than she can remember.

'I'd say I fall in 90% of the films I do,' Faris says with a laugh. 'But I don't mind as long as I have other flaws besides being clumsy.' In person, Faris exudes a Hollywood-sweetheart glow, her baby-doll good looks suggesting she could take on any of the type-A, career-girl roles doled out to Heigl and Aniston. But slapstick and sloppy chicks continue to draw her in'it's what she knows and does best. Her expert mugging, dopey inflection, double takes, and bewildered, wide eyes have earned her comparisons to Lucille Ball, Judy Holliday, and Goldie Hawn.

'I don't know what it is I do that makes me funny,' Faris, 34, says. 'I think if you're really dedicating yourself, you have to embrace the idea of looking foolish. You have to be prepared that people around you are going to think you're actually incredibly dumb, and that's OK.'

Faris came onto the radar in 2000 as Cindy, the ditzy lead in the Scary Movie franchise, then spent the next decade stealing scenes in Lost in Translation, Brokeback Mountain, Observe and Report, and her 2008 breakout, The House Bunny, where she starred as a Playboy centerfold who gets booted from Hef's mansion and takes up a gig as a sorority mom. Her best performance, however, was in Gregg Araki's 2007 indie comedy, Smiley Face, in which she played a pothead slacker who hoovers a plate of hash cupcakes and, after a series of blunders, winds up stealing an original manuscript of The Communist Manifesto. 'I had never read a script like that before,' she says. 'I don't think any woman has. It was this role that dudes would play. And it was a great relief not having a love interest -- only weed.'

Her latest role does supply Faris with a love interest -- many, actually. In the rom-com What's Your Number? she plays Ally Darling, a single, thirtysomething party girl who's just been fired. When Ally reads a Marie Claire article claiming that women who've slept with more than 20 partners are less likely to get hitched (she's at 19), she swears off sex altogether until she finds 'the one.' After she bumps into a formerly schlubby ex who's now svelte and dating a bombshell rocket scientist, Ally enlists her neighbor (played by an insanely hot Chris Evans) to help her track down all her past hookups, hoping that one of them, too, has undergone a similarly dramatic makeover.

That long list of exes includes the pimple-faced puppeteer Ally lost her virginity to (Andy Samberg in pitch-perfect geek mode) and a closeted Republican senator's aide who tries to woo her into becoming his beard. 'I think I've hit the jackpot,' Faris explains, 'and then he tells me he's gay and that he never knew until he dated me.' Another ex is a gynecologist who only recognizes her after seeing her vagina. 'What's distinctive about Ally's vagina?' Faris wonders aloud. 'The writers never gave me an answer.'

Like all her characters, Ally's 'a bit of a mess,' says Faris. She nervously chugs a bottle of champagne before making an epically awkward speech at her sister's engagement party, breaks her celibacy pact to hook up with a former boss (Joel McHale) who's obsessed with sniffing his fingers, and explodes at her patronizing mother (Blythe Danner), announcing publicly that she's a 'jobless whore.'

The fact that What's Your Number? arrives on the heels of another bawdy, R-rated, female-driven comedy centered around wedding woes isn't lost on Faris. She saw Bridesmaids and considers Kristen Wiig's performance a game-changer for the genre. 'She's making an ass out of herself, and that is so delicious and wonderful to see,' she says. 'And it's a gift, you know, because it's a risk -- like jumping off the high dive.'

So why is Faris so willing to continually make an ass out of herself? Without missing a beat, she replies in that trademark cartoonish drawl: 'For moooo-ney.' Then she immediately cracks up.

What's Your Number? hits theaters September 30.

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Jason Lamphier