Anna Faris can thank 2000’s "Scary Movie" for launching her film career; she’s starred as the sweet, clueless Cindy Campbell in every subsequent sequel, and made numerous comic appearances in films like "Lost in Translation," "Waiting…" and "Just Friends." Find out what Anna shared about doing comedy, starring in a franchise, and working with David Zucker.
Q: You’ve been in "Scary Movie" 1, 2, 3, and now 4; how has shooting this film been different than making the other three?
Anna Faris: With this one it was a little bit different because we came to it with a little more of the script intact, more of a finished product. With the third one, they were writing as we went along, there was a lot of additional photography, and we had to change some of the plot all around — a lot of changing every day.
Q: Can the "Scary Movie" franchise keep going after this fourth film?
Faris: You know, I wouldn’t put it past those guys. I think because we’re a series, we can continue to reinvent ourselves. It’s almost a new task every time; there are no storylines that we need to follow, there aren’t any rules in terms of plot structures. There’s nothing that we need to stick to…so I think that as long as we continue to make money, we’re gonna keep on going.
I like to say that I like to do fun, silly movies like "Brokeback Mountain," so…I’m surprised that they kept me around, I’m flattered. I think if you had told me back when I was doing the first "Scary Movie" that I would be doing the fourth one, I don’t know if I’d be happy or depressed!
Honestly, if I’m in "Scary Movie 10" I think I’ll be pretty happy. I never really imagined that I’d be able to make a living doing this, in any way, so I’m really grateful.
Faris: I’m always pretty game, especially because I think Cindy’s so sweet, and it gets a little bit annoying so it’s fun to take me down every now and then. There was that one shot where I get hit in the face with an airplane food cart…that, I didn’t want to do more than twice. That hurt pretty bad, and they saved that for my last shot.
Q: Do you watch the films you parody so you can mimic the performances?
Faris: I would see them anyway, for "Scary Movie," but not necessarily because my character imitates anybody anymore. I don’t really think I’m doing an impersonation of anybody, but I think it’s important to understand the feel and mood of a particular movie.
[On channeling Sarah Michelle Gellar in the "Grudge" scene] I do think it’s a little bit unconscious of a performance, because a lot of my lines are very similar to what she’s saying. But I wouldn’t say that I’m trying to do an imitation. Cindy’s now sort of evolved from…she’s not so bright…she’s a nurse — I’m scared. And she has to save humanity!
Q: Can you tell us more about Zucker’s direction to use "The Landry" look?
Faris: He sent me a picture of Tom Landry doing that [makes squishy face], so he calls that "The Landry." He has a few more expressions like, "Who Farted?" and he has "Downward Chomping," so it’s a really great acting process, working on these movies…everything’s broken down into a series of four basic expressions…
Q: Do you watch the box office numbers, like Regina does?
Faris: The first couple of years I was here, I had no idea what anything meant. I didn’t realize that when "Scary Movie" opened at like $43 million or whatever, I had no idea if that was good or bad. I had never looked at box office numbers before — I grew up in Seattle, there was no reason to. But now, of course, I’m a little bit more savvy.
Q: You’ve played a lot of comedic characters during your career…
Faris: I grew up doing really dramatic work; I’d never done comedy before so I don’t really think that I’m the funny girl, I never really thought I could be…I think I took myself really seriously for a really long time.
It’s true that I think I’m still working on breaking the idea of being typecast. I was really surprised when I moved out here and started out in "Scary Movie," that this industry thought of people as either comedic or dramatic actresses. I didn’t think that there were two different categories, necessarily.
For a while it was really hard for me get auditions for dramatic work. Now that doors are opening up a lot more for me, I think I’ll just chip away and try to just do good work. And if I do comedy for the rest of my life, I’ll be really happy.
Craig Bierko joins the cast of "Scary Movie 4" with a resume that dates back to 1987 and includes stints on television, in theater, and in movies like "Cinderella Man." "Scary Movie 4" allows him to flex his (very hilarious) comedic chops as working class, single father/Tom Cruise-ish hero, Tom Ryan. Read on to hear Craig’s humorous takes on parodying Tom Cruise, transitioning between the stage and screen, and being recognized, sorta, on the street.
Q: How did you approach your character of Tom Ryan, especially as a parody of Tom Cruise?
Craig Bierko: As far as that stuff’s concerned, I saw the Oprah scene at the end and my one hesitation was that I wanted to make sure we weren’t going to be parodying anyone’s beliefs or personal life, or doing any nasty speculations or anything like that. As long as it was making fun of something that happened in a public forum, I was fine with that.
There’s nobody in the world who looks less like Tom Cruise than me, so I didn’t think they hired me to "do" Tom Cruise. It’s basically a "movie hero guy" who’s in that situation, but I didn’t have any interest, nor did [the filmmakers], in doing an imitation of Tom Cruise.
Q: What was your favorite scene in "Scary Movie 4?"
Bierko: The "Brokeback" stuff really made me laugh, and that was funny because I thought, this is something that is parodied so much, but it’s uniquely "Scary Movie," just the idea of having those two guys [Anthony Anderson and Kevin Hart] is funny.
The bigger laughs are always funny, but I love the little stuff — like the locks, the guy trying to get in and not being able to time the locks — just because that always happens! And that alone is funny but the fact that there are spaceships — it’s so annoying, but it’s more annoying than the spaceships outside — that, I love.
Q: We heard from Zucker that you improvised a lot of that scene…
Bierko: I think we had a few hours to shoot that scene, and David [Zucker] just said, we’re taking the day. We took the day because it was just so enjoyable. We came up with so much of how they [Tom and Marvin] were getting it wrong.
I read the script and it was laugh-out-loud funny; these guys know what they’re doing. You read the script and it actually reads the way the movie looks, with all the sound effects and everything. There wasn’t anything to improve upon, even the improvised stuff was just because there were mostly actions, and [Zucker] said "try something here" or "go crazy with this, we’ll just keep the camera running."
Q: How familiar were you with the movies you were parodying?
I had no idea "Scary Movie 4" would be coming out; I wouldn’t have guessed that ["WOW"] would have been a movie they were parodying, because it didn’t strike me as a horror movie, but I guess it had elements of it — the blood and stuff. But they really were giant vampire machines, so I guess it was a horror movie. But I loved it when I read [the script], I thought this was just the right take on it.
Q: Coming off of "Cinderella Man," did you give Anna Faris any advice on her boxing?
Bierko: That would have been a great way to start. "I’m Craig Bierko; listen, some notes." No, I wasn’t around, but actually the guy who trained her is a kickboxer with the fastest recorded knock-out in boxing history, something like 2 seconds. I wanted to train with him, but I didn’t have the time.
Q: What was the hardest part about shooting "Scary Movie 4?"
Bierko: The one difficult thing about doing this movie is that when I hear David Zucker laugh, it makes me laugh. But the only time you move on to the next sequence is when he laughs, because when he laughs it’s funny. That’s really the barometer.
Q: How different is it acting on stage and acting in the movies?
Bierko: I discovered I don’t have to talk nearly as loud, because I have a microphone right there. They’re both ridiculous situations; in one, you’re standing on an elevated platform, while 1300 people are staring at you during an intimate pretend moment, and in the other there’s a camera right here while you’re trying to have a personal conversation and ignore the fact that there’s a giant machine on your head. They’re both ridiculous, and I think that’s the only thing they really have in common.
Q: Is there a role you’ve done that gets you recognized on the street?
Bierko: I’m that level of fame where they go, it’s either "weren’t you at the wedding of Joyce and…" and the other one is, "what did I just see you in?" and I’m like, I don’t know. "Well, list the things that you have been in." And I’m just like, no, why should this be an exercise in humiliation? So I go, "Sex and the City?" "No, I don’t watch television." "Scary Movie 4?" "No, I don’t go to see scary movies."
There was one time I almost said, but I didn’t, because it would have been just too mean, but it is kind of humiliating — "Do a little chicken dance for me, so I can figure out where I’ve seen you before" — and I almost said to this woman who was with her husband, "I’ll do that, but you have to mention every time you had sex with somebody before you got married to see what that feels like."