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Blonde Faith

Anna Faris Produces Her Way to Ditsy Comedic Success

Anna Faris Is No Bunny Dip

By Cole Haddon | Posted 8/20/2008

The House Bunny

Reviewed by Cole Haddon

It all started with the reality-show antics of Hugh Hefner's three girlfriends on The Girls Next Door: What happens when, after years of living in the altered reality of the Playboy Mansion, one of these young women attempts to re-enter the real world? Baltimore-born actress Anna Faris answers that question in her latest comedy, The House Bunny, in which she stars as the titular hottie. The twist here is that Faris not only conceived of the idea but also produced the movie for Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions--a feat sure to inspire legions of young women, who are rarely taken seriously in big-screen comedy, even a woman who is one of her generation's funniest actresses.

"It was amazing," Faris, 32, says of the experience, as breathily emphatic--albeit without the ditsy confusion--as her career-making Scary Movie character, Cindy Campbell. "Very inspiring and empowering, and also eye opening, because I had no idea how difficult it was to make a movie and to put all the pieces together. [But] without my writers"--Legally Blonde co-writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith--"I would still be twiddling my thumbs thinking, Where would that Playboy bunny go?"

The answer is, to college--or at least a sorority house, where her character, Shelley Darlington, can re-create the sense of "home" she had at the Playboy Mansion, where she lived as a fourth "girl next door" who dreamed of being given the chance to bare all as a centerfold. But the interesting thing is whereas most actresses would actively avoid playing a spacey, startlingly ignorant blonde who thinks being photographed naked is the pinnacle of success, Faris went out and created the role for herself.

"I've got to say I wasn't getting a chance to play the roles that I really wanted to," she says. That's right, Faris thought an aspiring Playmate was the role of a lifetime. And the experience has left her wanting to create more hilarious on-screen characters in an attempt to emulate the careers of her comedy idols such as Lucille Ball, Betty White, and Goldie Hawn. Now she feels "like, `Oh, so maybe I can do this, and maybe I can continue to do this,' which would be amazing."

Shelley Darlington's three-year road to the movie theater happened quickly considering how long most projects take to develop, but that doesn't mean the idea of Faris as a skin-bearing Playmate-type wasn't met with some shock. "When I floated the idea past my mom, who is pretty conservative, she was like, `You're doing what?!,'" Faris says. "And now, of course, she's like, `I'm so proud of you!'"

Faris was most concerned, however, with studio execs, who are notorious for having limited imaginations and, in her words, "wouldn't see me as that." Her solution: dress up as a Playboy bunny and pitch the movie in character.

Prepping for the role was a little more labor intensive. "I would like to say that I slept with Hef, but I'll dispel that rumor right now," Faris says, laughing. When not laughing, she always seems on the verge of it. "I have to admit, I did very little to emotionally prepare to play Shelley Darlington. I guess she's always been in there somewhere. But, I did work out . . . [and wear] a lot of padded bras."

On-set prep was the real nightmare; the actress spent three hours in makeup to give her so much hair and to subtly enhance her bust, not to mention the 20 minutes it took each day to strap her into her absurdly high-heeled shoes--all of which, Faris quickly points out, she kept.

Despite all the work, Faris couldn't help but feel self-conscious around the real Playmates when shooting at the Playboy Mansion. "I kept feeling, `I don't belong in this crowd,'" she says. "All these girls are really hot and confident."

Faris does, though, want to make it clear that The House Bunny is not a condemnation of centerfolds, even if Shelley ultimately turns down the chance to pose. "I don't think it's a stand against not being a [Playboy] model," she says. "I think Shelley will always be a little vain and love her wardrobe and her curves. But I think it's more about finding her real family, and that she realizes that she doesn't belong in that world anymore."

We're not entirely convinced of Faris' love for Playboy despite her defense of centerfolds, though. "Just keep your eye out for maybe the September issue," she says, laughing. "I have to cryptic about these things. I'm instructed to be."

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