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The Dictator - Anna Faris interview

The Dictator

Compiled by Jack Foley

ANNA Faris talks about the making of The Dictator with Sacha Baron Cohen and why she decided to grow real armpit hair rather than opting for CGI.

She also talks about the continued mystery behind her leading man and why he remained in character for the shoot. The Dictator is released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, September 24, 2012.

Q: You’re back as a blonde. In The Dictator we see you with short brunette hair and you are almost unrecognizable…
Anna Faris: Yes, it was a whole new me.

Q: Was your brunette hair a wig or your real hair?
Anna Faris: It was a wig. But, the hair in my armpits was real [laughs].

Q: What? I thought your armpit hair was digitally put in there. I thought it was CGI arm pit hair. I’m impressed…
Anna Faris: [Laughs] I wanted to save the production money so instead of CGI armpit hair I grew it out myself.

Q: How was the armpit hair? Did you enjoy it?
Anna Faris: It defined my summer. It grew so much thicker and coarser than what I ever imagined it would. I’m not going to lie. It was a little rough [laughs].

Q: When the director Larry Charles said “cut” on the final scene did you go and grab a razor and quickly shave it off?
Anna Faris: Yes I did. Then they called me later and said: “Can you keep your armpit hair? We need to do some re-shoots.” I was like: “Sorry, already done!” [laughs].

Q: Oh no. What a dilemma. I guess we should explain why the character you play in The Dictator has armpit hair and is a brunette…
Anna Faris: Yeah. I play Zoe and she runs a health food store in Brooklyn. It’s a co-op type of business. She is very passionate about a lot of political issues. She’s very liberal and honest, but she is not so concerned with her own aesthetic. She has an androgynous look. You know, she doesn’t have time to shave her armpits [laughs]. She’s running the store.

Q: Who does have time to shave their armpits?
Anna Faris: That’s right. Who does? She’s running a store and is very busy.

Q: Let’s talk about Sacha Baron Cohen. He plays the dictator Admiral General Aladeen of the north African republic of Wadiya. Through a series of events in New York, General Aladeen ends up at the Brooklyn store and there’s a bit of an unlikely relationship with Zoe…
Anna Faris: Yeah, they become a bit of an odd couple.

Q: What’s Sacha like? He’s very secretive when it comes to the media. He largely conducts media interviews only as the characters he plays. What’s he like with the other actors on set?
Anna Faris: He’s secretive with the actors on set too. He’s in character a lot of the time. Actually most of the time he’s in character. About 99 per cent of the time. He’s playing a dictator so when he’s waiting around on set to shoot we called him ‘supreme leader’ or ‘dictator’. You know: “Hey dictator. You want some coffee?” But, seriously, he’s still kind of a mysterious person to me as well. He’s lovely. I know that. He’s a family man. But, who knows who the real Sacha Baron Cohen is?

Q: I find it interesting that you could spend weeks on set with him, he plays your love interest, but you still don’t really know who he is…
Anna Faris: When we met, before I got the job, he did tell me he was going to be in character most of the time. He said for Borat and Bruno he was in character for more than a year to really know the character so for The Dictator he said it would be the same. It’s his process to be in character when the cameras are on and off.

Q: In the movie General Aladeen can be quite vicious. You don’t want to get on his bad side. With Sacha in character, you wouldn’t want to get on his bad side on the set. He may order you to go in front of a firing squad…
Anna Faris: [Laughs] Yes. I steered clear of him. It was awkward because my character doesn’t know he is a dictator, so when we were on set I didn’t offer him any coffee or donuts.

Read our interview with General Aladeen

The Dictator is released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, September 24, 2012.