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Take Me Home Tonight – How Anna Faris got little more intelligent

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Take Me Home Tonight - Anna Faris
Wendy Franklin (Anna Faris) © 2011 Relativity Jackson

Anna Faris has become the go-to girl if you’re doing a wacky comedy. She began her career with the mega-successful Scary Movie franchise and has appeared in Mama’s Boy with Dian Keaton, Observe and Report with Seth Rogen and in the dramas Lost in Translation and Brokeback Mountain.

In Take Me Home Tonight, she portrays Wendy Franklin, the twin sister of MIT grad Matt (Topher Grace), who is torn between a career as a writer and marrying her longtime boyfriend Kyle, played by Chris Pratt. Faris and Pratt met on this movie and married in 2009.

When you read the script, did you know immediately how you wanted to play Wendy?

Take Me Home Tonight - Topher Grace, Dan Fogler and Anna Faris
Matt Franklin (Topher Grace), Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler) and Wendy Franklin (Anna Faris) © 2011 Relativity Jackson

I had a pretty clear vision of how I wanted Wendy to be. She’s looking for a bigger world than the one that she lives in, something beyond high school and life in the San Fernando Valley. She’s applied to grad school because she wants to be a writer.

I tend to play a lot of comedic characters who aren’t always the smartest girls around. This girl is smart and has a lot of sass, which I love. I also really wanted to work with Topher, so when they approached me about the project, I was very happy to be a part of it.

As you say, your character’s at a crossroads in choosing between furthering her education, a career or marriage. Have you been in that situation?

Yeah. Embarrassingly enough, I did go to the university I went to because of my first boyfriend and he broke up with me. It’s so Felicity! Then I graduated and was going to go to London to pursue marketing. I wanted to be an actress but thought there was no way that was possible.

Then, at the last minute I was like, ‘You know, I should give LA a shot. If I’m miserable and working at Starbucks in a year, then I’ll think about marketing and moving back to Seattle.’ But, then I booked a classic called Scary Movie! (she laughs) and my parents were so proud.

You’ve done some great comic work, but was it refreshing to have more of an emotional through-line in this film?

Take Me Home Tonight - Anna Faris
Wendy Franklin (Anna Faris) © 2011 Relativity Jackson

It was really rewarding to play a character that’s a little more intelligent than the characters I normally play. It was a relief and nice to be part of such a strong ensemble, and figure out my place in that, and to play a character that had a little bit more bite to her, more brassiness. She’s complicated. I think she’s also really deeply unhappy.

You and Topher play twins in this, how did you work on that relationship?

We weirdly have a combative energy that’s kind of sibling-like naturally. I don’t know where it came from but we tease each other a lot. We have a know-it-all, bossy attitude about us, I think.

You met your husband Chris Pratt on this movie, was it love at first sight?

Yeah, but we didn’t start dating until after the movie was wrapped. We were both from the same hometown [in Washington state] and I was really impressed with his acting and we all because really close as a cast. I think he dated a couple of the background actresses at the same time during the making of the movie.

How do you feel about Chris’ crying scene at the end of the movie when you break up with him?

There was a point when he was having trouble. Mike [Dowse, the writer/director of the movie] really wanted him to break down and it was like six o’clock in the morning and we were so exhausted. He was having some trouble getting there. Then the craziest thing happened. We took a break, he came back and he just was slobbering.

I think everyone on the crew, including myself, was just like, ‘What is this? This is so confusing. What we’re seeing is hysterical and tragic and it’s disgusting and amazing.’ I don’t know. It was love (she laughs).

Did you find out what he did during the break?

Take Me Home Tonight - Anna Faris
Wendy Franklin (Anna Faris) and Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt) © 2011 Relativity Jackson

No. I think he just really put the pressure on himself. I think everyone’s process is different. Some actors can do it immediately and some actors need a minute or two.

Is there a genre or a director that you would love to work with?

I hope I keep continuing to do comedy. I’m really interested in playing messy women as opposed to the type ‘A’ women we’ve seen a lot in the romantic comedy zone. I want to play the loser (she laughs) and I hope there is an audience for her.

What word represents the ‘80’s for you?

Excess. I feel like there was something very naïve wrapped up in the excess.

Do you think this could have been set in modern times or did it need to be the ‘80’s?

I think Topher talks a lot about how he wanted to make sure this wasn’t a spoof of the ‘80’s, because I think it’s hard to be invested in the characters’ journey if you are also mocking them. I think it’s a timeless story over the last four decades.

There was a delay in getting this movie released.

There was a fear at the time, but the climate has changed so much with something like The Hangover that changed the whole climate in Hollywood. Before that I think drugs were a little scary and the boobs in the ‘80’s weren’t back yet.

We had a few uphill struggles so it’s great it’s found a home with a lot of enthusiasm behind it. It feels like it’s a good time for R-rated comedies right now.