Anna Faris: From High School Geek to House Bunny to Meatball Meteorologist

Anna Faris voicing the character of Sam Sparks in Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.

Anna Faris voicing the character
of reporter Sam Sparks in
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.
(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick.)

Anna Faris is best known to moviegoers for her comedic turns in the Scary Movie quadrilogy and more adult fare like The House Bunny and the controversial Observe and Report. Her parody of the infamous Ring phone call in Scary Movie 3 is classic. Now she has lent her voice to the family-friendly, 3D animated film Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, in which she plays aspiring TV meteorologist Sam Sparks, who stumbles upon the story of a lifetime when she visits the town of Swallow Falls, where food literally rains from the sky. While in New York to promote her latest movie, she spoke about her character, working in animation, memories from her childhood and her geeky high school years. With her film career continuing to grow, she is indeed proof that geeks are inheriting the earth — and that many are cuter than people think.

How did you develop your character? Did you get a chance to go back in and do more voiceover work once you saw the renderings?
They showed us a drawing of our character before we started recording, and that was all we had. They wrote pretty specific characters, so it wasn’t a huge search [to find her]. We worked for about a year and went back in to tweak all the animation. It was pretty incredible to see it all come to life.

What do you find appealing about voice acting that is different than being in front of the camera?
It is incredibly challenging. They asked me to do this movie, and I was so excited because it was a book that I grew up with. I felt really honored to be asked to do what I love doing. I did some voice work early on in Seattle when I was growing up, and I loved the idea of doing it again. It’s finally a movie that I’ve done that people under 10 can see.  My parents are happy.

Do you recall your first acting job?
I was nine and did an Arthur Miller play called Danger: Memory! at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. I got paid $250, which was huge. I was rolling in the dough. I think I’m still living off of that. Then I went out and bought a piano phone. It was pretty awesome.

What was Comic-Con like this past summer?
I had never been to Comic-Con before, and I had a fantastic time. I mean, it’s a show. What surprised me was how happy everybody is there. They’re looking forward to this all year, so you’re in an environment that for the most part is really supportive and really joyous. I can relate to the idea of escaping through a character, so it was really cool to see all of these people doing the same thing.

Sam Sparks in action.

Sam Sparks in action.
(Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation.)

What message did you get from making this film, and what message do you want the audience to get from seeing it?
For me, there are a number of themes and messages in the movie. As far as my character, she suppresses her intelligence a little bit because she feels pressure by society, whether it’s through her work or being a woman, to play a certain kind of role. Through meeting Flint [Lockwood] she finally lets her guard down and is accepted for who she really is. I also think there’s a really entertaining idea about excessiveness and what we wish for, how indulgence and excessiveness can be quite harmful, which I think is appropriate for this time.

What is your relationship with food like?
My mom is an incredible cook, and cooking is probably my favorite hobby and pastime. I love to try new things. If I wasn’t an actress I would like to be a restaurant critic. We’ll see how that goes.

The protagonist of this movie is an inventor. Have you ever attempted to invent something?
I wasn’t too mechanical – I’m still not – but I was really into bugs, and I still do love bumblebees and bees in general. Honey bees, not carnivorous bees. I managed to capture the queen bumblebee when she just left her nest in the winter. They’re a little drowsy at that point, so I was able to capture her and attempted to make a bumblebee hive, but she died. That’s pretty geeky, I think. I was 14 or 15 years old.

Faris with her Meatballs co-stars Bill Hader and Bobbe J. Thompson.

Faris with her Meatballs
co-stars Bill Hader and Bobb'e J. Thompson.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

As we’re doing a junket in a candy store, what are your favorite sweets?
My indulgence sweet-wise is definitely donuts. I’m definitely a bit of a salty, savory kind of gal. Chips are trouble. I raided the mini-bar in my hotel.

Did any dialogue from this film stick with you?
We did a session together for when the cheeseburgers were falling [out of the sky], and they actually got us In-N-Out burgers. They wanted us to talk with our mouths full, and it was a great excuse to eat an In-N-Out burger.

Your role is a reversal of a lot of Hollywood stereotypes where the geeky girl is transformed into somebody more chic. Did you relate to the idea of bringing your geekiness out?
Bill [Hader] and I talked a little bit about this. We were both geeks in high school. I used to wear a Christmas tree skirt as a cape. [laughs] Now I’m comfortable enough to talk about it.

Check out the interview with Cloudy… co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

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