Anna Faris on Divorce, Giving Relationship Advice, and Her ‘Overboard’ Remake

ANNA FARIS
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Now starring in a remake of the ’80s comedy Overboard, the comedian and podcaster talks breakups, gender roles, and the strange appeal of dead insects.

Are you a fan of the original Overboard?
I’ve seen it, I don’t know, maybe 473 times. It was my favorite movie growing up, so it was terrifying to take on a movie that’s so beloved.

It’s an ’80s classic! In the original, Goldie Hawn is a spoiled yacht owner who’s a jerk to hardworking single dad Kurt Russell. In this remake, the gender roles are reversed. Was that interesting to you?
It was important to make sure this was a story about social issues, even though it’s a comedy, because of the current rise in feminist expression. I was worried she’s not likeable, because it’s easy not to like a character who’s getting revenge by completely taking advantage of somebody. But I think it’s important in this narrative that my character is a woman who takes control. Maybe there’s satisfaction these days in seeing that.

Is it important to you to play redeemable or likeable characters?
Actually, I love playing atrocious characters.

You’ve also portrayed a lot of sexualized characters, but in a comedic way.
My approach is not necessarily sexuality, even though I joke about sex and my body. I think I find common ground through self-deprecation. I felt like an ass growing up. I was a quiet, weird kid who wore headgear, and I think most people can relate to that awkwardness.

The film is also about getting to start over in a completely different life. What would your do-over be if you weren’t an actress?
Oh, God. I am not qualified to do much at this point. I haven’t had a normal job in a long time, so I’m completely out of touch with everything.

You have a degree in English literature—maybe something with that?
I come from a family of academics, and I taught a podcasting class [at the University of Southern California]. When I was going to school, I decided to give up acting because I didn’t think I could ever make it. I worked at an ad agency as a receptionist and thought, “Maybe I’ll work in advertising, and one day I could maybe publish a short story.” But now I think I’m too far gone, too unqualified, to actually make a living doing anything else.

You have a podcast, Unqualified, in which you and a celebrity co-host offer relationship advice. Why did you start it? And why the name?
I definitely think that I’m unqualified to give anybody advice because I constantly feel like a mess. But maybe the one realm where I do have strength is compassion. You know, I would consider myself an introvert, but I wanted to be able to talk to people without having the whole Hollywood scene around it, to have more meaningful conversations. There have been moments when my co-hosts have really surprised me, especially a lot of the men, with their humanity and how empathetic they are toward female callers talking about a boss who made them feel small, or how it feels to be dumped, problems I can very much relate to.

You got into an interesting conversation when Sharon Stone was on. A young woman caller was complaining about being pursued by a co-worker. Stone asked the caller if she was attractive, pointing out that looks have a way of affecting the relationships between men and women. What’s your take?
I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s a tricky thing to want to feel desired but also to feel empowered. Maybe when you get older, you miss being desired in that way.

Does it scare you to think about aging and not being desired?
It scares me that I would be scared of it, yes. It’s easy for a celebrity to say, “Oh, God, the paparazzi are so annoying.” But then what happens when it’s all gone and you’re no longer visible? I would like to think that I’m secure enough that I wouldn’t worry.

You recently went through a public split. [Faris and Chris Pratt filed for divorce late last year.] Do you have any advice about dealing with a breakup?
Just recognizing that heartbreaks make you a stronger person with more empathy. I am so grateful for all of the relationships I’ve had. There haven’t been that many, but all of them taught me something. Generosity of spirit is something that I try to think about.

I’ve read that you and Pratt both collect dead bugs. Is that like a taxidermy thing?
My mom used to be afraid of bugs. Relatives told her to never pass that along to her daughter, and so I grew up holding spiders and snakes. My brother and I had a collection of bugs and reptiles. My son Jack came home yesterday with praying mantis eggs, so we’re raising them. I love the idea of reframing in Jack’s mind the things we’ve been conditioned to fear.

And now you have a collection of dead bugs in your home?
I always wanted a natural history museum feeling to my house, which would sort of freak people out. But I like beauty in unexpected places. I like the connection to mortality, in a fucked-up way, to being presented with nature in raw form. I’d like to be a beekeeper or make goat cheese when I retire.

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