Cindy returns for Scary Movie 4

By Daniel Fienberg (KRT)

LOS ANGELES – There were more than a few moments back five years ago when Anna Faris was ready to bid farewell to the “Scary Movie” franchise.

“Scary Movie,” the Wayans brothers’ slasher parody, was a smash hit, but the hastily made “Scary Movie 2” chilled that momentum in a flash, earning savage reviews and less than half of the box office of the original.

“I think after the second one, it was just really one day at a time – I never really imagined even when we were shooting the second one that there would be a third,” Faris admits. “I was kept very much out of the loop. I still am. I can’t even believe that I’m here, because I can’t believe that I’ve survived. Regina (Hall) and I are the only ones who have been in all four and I keep thinking, ‘It’s because probably I’m pretty reasonable still, cheap for the studio to hire back.'”

After giving the franchise a year to go fallow, “Scary Movie 3” was entrusted to spoofing legend David Zucker (“Airplane!”) and brought viewers back to the theaters. With the Wayans family off pursuing “White Chicks,” Faris suddenly became the series’ centerpiece as Cindy Campbell. Originally just a winking take on Neve Campbell’s “Scream” character, Cindy has become her own blissfully brainless entity, Faris’ creation.

“With Cindy, it’s really important to play her very sincerely, and she obviously has no sense of humor, which I think is funny in itself,” Faris smiles.

She continues, “The main difficulty in playing a character that’s not the brightest girl is just the sense of vanity. There are people out there who think that I’m very much like my character and that’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow, but I really do have a great time and I think that doing comedy in general is having a lack of vanity and trying not to have too much of an ego. Especially for a young woman, it’s easy to be like, ‘Oh, I really want to look good. I wish I could look sexy.’ But that’s not very funny.”

Faris is, in fact, obviously funny and not just when she’s playing dumb, though that’s usually all that’s asked of her. Outside of the “Scary Movie” films, she’s done a lot of small parts, though some have magically grown. A case in point would be this winter’s “Just Friends,” in which Faris’ goofy pop star became the centerpiece of commercials after audiences responded to the character.

“There just aren’t that many roles written for young women that are character-y kind of roles, especially in comedies,” Faris says with some regret.