Now in its second season, the CBS comedy series Mom is an irreverent and outrageous take on true family love and dysfunction. Single mom Christy (Anna Faris) has been sober for a year now, and is still struggling to raise two children in a world full of temptations and pitfalls. Testing her sobriety on a daily basis is her formerly estranged mother, Bonnie (Allison Janney), who is now back in Christy’s life and eager to share insights into her daughter’s many mistakes.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Anna Faris talked about what it was like to return for Season 2, how much she’s enjoyed sharing this experience with Allison Janney, learning the world of a multi-cam series, what’s most surprised her about the journey that she’s taken with this character, the fun of dream sequences, and what’s still to come for Christy and her loving but dysfunctional family. She also talked about how awesome it would be, if they could find a way for her character to be a part of the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs TV series that’s being developed, developing a comedy called Vacation Friends that she hopes to shoot with her husband, Chris Pratt, next summer, and why she’s interested in playing characters who are messes and losers. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
ANNA FARIS: I feel like I’ve learned not very much. I’ve learned a little bit. In terms of the practical stuff, like line memorization and certain technical things, I feel like I’ve learned to really trust in the process and trust that, by Friday, I’ll sort of know what I’m doing, to some degree. It’s crazy! Our hours are fantastic, but the intensity of the work itself is like nothing I’ve ever done before. I’ve learned to know that the lines will come. Our writers, who are so brilliant, will see if there’s problems. Specifically, if I haven’t figure out how to say a joke, they’ll rewrite it for me. They’re so generous. I feel like I’ve settled in, the tiniest bit. I’m so nervous to say that I’m settled in because I still have no idea what I’m doing. The biggest thing I’ve learned is how rare getting picked up is, as well as our support from the network and Chuck [Lorre], especially being a comedy about two women who are dealing with really serious and real issues. For a comedy, the whole show feels rare and special. I’m just so grateful. Last year, I felt incredibly grateful, as well. It was such an amazing feeling to even be going, but this year, it hit home even more. It’s not common that people’s shows get picked up these days, especially the comedies. I get to drive to work with a smile on my face. I’ve learned to take it in stride and appreciate every moments.
I had no idea how awesome it would be to watch you and Allison Janney together, until I watched this show. How much have you enjoyed sharing this experience with her?
FARIS: I really love her so much. My love for her is so genuine. I know that, when you’re doing press stuff or talking to journalists, actors have to sometimes say things that they don’t necessarily feel. But with her, I feel so lucky that I get to work with my best friend. I truly feel so fortunate. As women, you don’t necessarily get to work with each other very often. When you do, oftentimes, you’re pitted against each other. We just are very fortunate.
When you first came to this show, being a part of a series ensemble was a new experience for you. How has that been?
FARIS: I feel like we are all held accountable. On a movie set, I guess you’re not fully conscious of the idea that these relationships are somewhat temporary, but somewhere it’s lingering in the back of your mind. You keep people at a little bit of an arm’s length, emotionally. The movie may come out a year later and you don’t know how it’s going to be edited. You’re not as fully engaged in the process, as you are with a show. I have such respect for people that are great at this format because there are so many specific challenges, technically and personality wise, that you have to overcome to be good at this. There’s nowhere to hide in multi-cam, in the sense that, if you don’t commit to a line or a joke, it is painful for the audience. It requires a lack of vanity, even more so than other comedies. I feel like all comedy does require a lack of vanity, but multi-cam, especially. If you don’t believe in a line, then you come off as the loser.
What’s most surprised you about the journey that this character has taken, from who you signed on to play to where she is now?
FARIS: I love that we get to play very full, very dimensional, real characters that are really flawed. I love the constant shifting of dynamic between Bonnie and Christy. I feel like I spent a lot of last season being the mom to her, and this season, we change positions a little bit. I’m still in flux. I’m still a mom to her and she’s a mom to me, and I love that changing dynamic. They’re letting me be a little messier, in a way I really love ‘cause I feel that way in real life. I really relate to the idea of this character being less than perfect.
FARIS: Yes! She’s had this incredible struggle and journey with not just sobriety, but all kinds of issues, and I love it when we get a glimpse of who she used to me. I keep waiting more. I want to see Christy’s stripper days. I want to see all that stuff. So, it was really fun to see Christy have her gambling addiction surface again. I don’t know if they’ll ever really let her fall off the wagon, but I hope they do. I think Roscoe and Violet will have to be out of the house, otherwise than we’ll get Child Protective Services involved, and I don’t know how far you can push that comedy.
Do you ever find yourself torn between wanting good things for your character, but it’s just such good drama to play her when she’s as messed up as possible?
FARIS: Oh, yeah! I always want her to be super messed up, more than anybody else. I love it! It’s such a guilty pleasure, but I love it when Christy is lying or cheating or being mischievous or messy. I find it so fun. I love it when they let me do that. It’s not too often that your leading women get to be so flawed. There’s always been this pressure to be a character that constantly does the right thing, and that is lovable and charming. You can only be so flawed, for the most part, as an actress in Hollywood. You can sometimes be clumsy, or maybe have something stuck in your teeth, but that’s about as far as we can go. So, it feels really liberating, getting to play somebody like this, at the risk that people won’t like her. It’s a pretty big risk, but I love that we take it.
FARIS: Oddly, I rarely break. I think that came from the Scary Movie stuff, working with a lot of actors who were constantly cracking up and finding it really frustrating. We have such amazingly talented people who are hysterical, but most of the actors on the show are serious actors. Another thing about the multi-cam world is how precise it is. Going into it, I thought that there was a looseness to it, or maybe even room for improv, but it’s actually the most precise job I’ve ever had. It’s very surgical, and I love that about it. It makes me feel secure, in a way. Most of us don’t break, unless we mess up ourselves. And then, I think you start laughing because it’s so painful. It’s like, “Oh, my god, I can’t believe I blew that line in front of the audience.” And the audience is so generous and lovely. Part of the fun for the audience is getting to see us messing up. But for us, we’re like, “Oh, no!” And then, you laugh out of embarrassment and pain. At least, I do. So no, I don’t tend to break too much.
What can you say to tease what’s to come for this family and for Christy, specifically?
FARIS: I think we get funnier. I was really proud of last season, but I’m even more proud of this season, in terms of the kind of show that we’re making. We deal with more serious topics, but things also get a little ridiculous, in the best way. My character gambled away our rent money, so we’re homeless. We bop around from home to home for a little while. We’ve also got this amazing guest stars, with Colin Hanks, Beverly D’Angelo, Kevin Pollock and Sara Rue. I don’t know how much I’m allowed to tell you about, but I’m really, really proud. I think that we are making, as Chuck would say, a really dense show. There’s a lot that happens in every episode. I feel like most shows would take one of our episodes and make six shows out of it because there’s just so much going on, with many sets, a lot of storylines and a thick plot. It’s awesome. Thematically, we run deep, and I love that. Hopefully, people will continue to come on our journey with us.
It’s not like you aren’t already busy enough as it is, with a TV show, a kid, and movies, but now that it’s been announced that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is being developed as a TV series, focused on Flint’s high school years as a young scientist, is that something you’d want to be a part of?
FARIS: Oh, my god, I had no idea! That’s so cool! I would love to be a part of that. I love doing voice work. It sounds so corny when actors say, “Oh, I did this animated movie, so I could finally do a movie that my child could see,” but there’s something really nice about that. My son doesn’t have the attention span yet for a movie, but Chris was in The Lego Movie, and we’re excited to show him. It sounds really fun. I don’t know if Sam and Flint knew each other then, though. But, it would be awesome.
Do you have any films in development, that you’d like to do once you get a break from the show?
FARIS: Yeah, Chris and I have a project called Vacation Friends, that we’re developing with Fox. That is a comedy. I would not call it a romantic comedy. It’s more of a raunchy comedy. That’s really fun. We’re constantly spit-balling ideas. But, it’s definitely more complicated now that we have a little boy. It feels really crazy right now. We’re still always going to do stuff on the side, and hopefully stuff together. Chris and I would love to make films together, and also produce films. I think that’s always a part of it. Especially in the world of comedy, it feels like you have to be proactive, in terms of pitching and trying to sell and being a part of the creation of the stuff that you do.
When would you like to shoot that movie?
FARIS: I would love to do it next summer. I think our season ends in March, and then I’m free. That would be fantastic, if we could get that together in time. That would be awesome! So, we’re working on that.
It’s interesting to hear you say that it’s not a romantic comedy, but it’s more of a raunchy comedy. Do you feel like that’s more in your wheelhouse, to lean more towards the raunchy side than the romantic side, when it comes to comedy?
FARIS: Not necessarily, but I do feel like there aren’t as many rules for women. In the last 15 or 20 years of romantic comedies, which I love and am crazy about, I feel like there are a lot of rules that you have to follow. I don’t know. I feel like it’s a little more liberating to not define something as a romantic comedy. I don’t know if I’m right about that. That’s the first time I’ve said those words.
It makes sense that you’d have a little more lee-way.
FARIS: Yeah! I’m interested in playing messes and losers, and I don’t know if those are the people in romantic comedies. The biggest defining factor is whether you fully root for this person to get the guy and whether you want to put yourself in that person’s shoes. I love the idea of feeling a lot of empathy and emotional investment in a character, but it’s also restrictive. It’s a double-edged sword, I guess. One of my most favorite characters that I’ve played was in this independent movie called Smiley Face, and the character was named Jane. She was a huge stoner who wears her pajamas and has no interests, except for weed. That was just so transformative for me. I was like, “I can’t believe they let a woman play this. I just want to do more of this character that’s bizarre and not hung up on career and guys. She just wants her bed, and she wants to lay down.”
Mom airs on Thursday nights on CBS.