What Phonesex Taught Ari Graynor About Life
I became obsessed with actress Ari Graynor after "discovering" her in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Since then I've followed her to stellar (Whip It) and less than amazing (The Sitter) projects -- but the one constant, regardless of quality, has been Ari's ability to make every scene matter.
That's why I'm doubly excited the world can finally experience her new movie, For A Good Time, Call... Not only does the absurdly genius comedy give Ari the star-making role she's been deserving since she drunkenly stumbled into our hearts with 2008's Infinite Playlist, but it manages to simultaneously be bawdy and brilliant yet heartwarming and empowering. It's that dynamic duality that made signing on a no-brainer for Ari!
TheInsider.com: What was your first thought upon reading the script?
Ari Graynor: I loved it. Lauren [Miller, who also co-stars] and Katie [Anne Naylon] wrote this script that was, off the bat, so funny and so smart. It's crazy to me that there are not more movies about female friendship. I've never read one where the friendship wasn't competitive or jealous or just had somebody being the sassy best friend. I went crazy for it and was so honored they wanted me to star in it and produce it. I feel like we've formed this incredible creative coalition with Jamie Travis, our insanely talented director. We worked so closely to make this film what it is. I honestly can not believe where we are with it now.
Insider.com: How much did the film allow for improvisation?
Ari: We shot this in 16 days, so we did not have a lot of time to fool around. But because the four of us worked so closely on the script, by the time we got to shooting, all of us had spent every day together and re-worked so many thing sin the script, we pretty much knew what we were going to say. We left a lot of room for phone sex vamping – just general, "Oh yea! You like that?" There was a lot of that.
Insider.com: What about with the sex line caller cameos?
Ari: We just let the cameras roll and let them do whatever they wanted to do essentially. We didn't even know that Seth [Rogen] would be an airplane pilot until we found our location a few days before shooting, which we realized could pass for an airplane bathroom.
Insider.com: The movie's tagline is "Lose Your Hang-ups," did making it help you lose any sexual hang-ups you might have had?
Ari: I'm pretty open-minded but I did relate to Katie hiding behind the phone and presenting herself as incredibly confident, self-assured and sexual [person] despite the fact her inner life is very different. It's not exactly my story, but I certainly related to presenting a more confident front. I can feel really insecure and vulnerable sometimes, but letting go of the parts of yourself that don't really serve you, and getting to a place of honesty through your friends, is part of losing your hang-ups too. That's definitely been helpful for me. I love that this movie is so sex positive and it's so important for women to not feel shameful about their sexuality. We live in a culture where people have no problem with violence in film, but God forbid a woman talks about having an orgasm. It incenses me.
Insider.com: The film includes over-the-top sexual situations and intimate encounters as well. Which is tougher to shoot?
Ari: I thought it was crazy that no one would bat an eye the wilder things we said, but everyone started to blush during the intimate scenes that felt more real. That's where people felt uncomfortable, and that is so fascinating to me.
Insider.com: Once filming wraps, there's still lots of post-production work to be done. Was it strange to be in a sound booth doing filthy ADR once you were out of the flow of filming?
Ari: Totally! We had to record messages for a phoneline and, you know the keyboard we use in the movie? We released an R-rated version on our website. We had to record all the sounds for every key, and my mom was there when I was doing it [laughs]. This is a funny job, sometimes, but it also drives home how difficult it is to be funny and not sexual in an icky way. It's such a hard line to walk, sometimes I wonder how we ever made this movie [laughs].
Insider.com: Research-wise, how do you go about preparing for the part?
Ari: Well, I have a lot of personal phonesex in my real life, so I didn't do much research [laughs]. I'm just kidding. I YouTube'd some stuff, but it was all so jokey. Truly, if anything, I needed to turn down the overly realistic side of my brain when thinking about what the other side of those conversations is actually like. We always wanted it to be funny and not too titillating. It was more about being unselfconscious and free and open-minded – all the things you should be in real life anyway. You'd be surprised how much having phonesex can teach you about life.
For A Good Time, Call... is now playing in theaters.