You recognize the blond hair, the slutty outfits and the declarations that she just wants to be taken seriously. When she plants awkwardly lingering kisses on the lips of other girls, complains about losing her “sidekick” or unleashes a diva fit, things become even more familiar. But this is not one of those young women who, say, walk offstage when caught lip synching or seem to enjoy parading their pregnancies and piercings before the world.
This is Samantha James. She’s a scantily clad tart whose music can’t be found in any store; her reality show won’t be appearing on the tube anytime soon. That’s because, technically, she doesn’t exist — not for a few weeks, at least.
“She’s a little bit of everybody, I guess — a little bit of all the [current] pop icons mashed into one,” said actress Anna Faris, who created the scene-stealing Samantha for “Just Friends,” a Ryan Reynolds-Amy Smart comedy opening November 23. Advance screenings around L.A. have built buzz for the flick about formerly fat Chris Brander (Reynolds) seeking a second chance with his high school crush, Jamie (Smart). But Faris’ over-the-top Samantha has audiences wondering who it is they’re really laughing at.
“It’s the idea of somebody who lives in this tiny bubble,” Faris offered. “Someone who has no sense of reality at all and is very self-absorbed.”
When Reynolds’ Brander, an up-and-coming music executive, finds himself stuck in a small New Jersey town babysitting the uncontrollable pop sensation, Samantha occupies herself by seducing a teenage boy, burning down a house and microwaving tinfoil.
“I don’t know any of them,” Faris said of the pop-culture figures she apparently channeled for the role. “But I imagine most of those people would have a sense of humor about it.”
Faris has similarly poked fun at big celebs in the “Scary Movie” flicks and, for the most part, they’ve been OK with it, she said.
“Well, Jennifer Love Hewitt sent me flowers,” Faris remembered. “She was so sweet. She was, like, ‘I thought you were great imitating me.’ ”
Still, when Samantha lets loose with a line about how she and Brander can be just like Jessica Simpson and her producer/father — but they can also have sex — it’s tough to imagine the “Newlyweds” star sending Faris a bouquet.
“I don’t know,” she said, laughing at the thought of it. “It’s always a little awkward for me to [bump into people]. ‘Hi, sorry I made fun of you in that movie.’ ”
To help publicize her next single, “Forgiveness” — sample lyric: “To forgive is divine/ So let’s have a glass of wine/ And have makeup sex until the end of time” — James appears in the movie in a risqué photo spread reminiscent of Spears’ schoolgirl-outfit videos or Paris’ adventures in car washing. For the character, the photographs were spot on; for the more conservative Faris, however, it was a tough day on set.
“This is a lovely memory,” Farris joked after being handed a photo of her wearing nothing but creatively placed whipped cream and cherries while suggestively brandishing a banana. “This is actually shaving cream because whipped cream, as it turns out, falls right off. So this is shaving cream, and it would sort of slide down into one big blob, and the cherries had to be continually placed, because they would start to go. It was not a fun day; the day was a little bit uncomfortable. This isn’t quite my style as a person.”
“We did some shots where the banana did get pretty close [to my lips],” she said, before handing back the photo and blushing. “I know — you probably want to keep that.”
If early press screenings are any indication, there will soon be a lot of people laughing at the ditzy glory of Samantha James, a breakout character that can garner an actress the kind of attention Isla Fisher earned earlier this year for her similarly off-the-wall “Wedding Crashers” role of Christopher Walken’s character’s daughter, Gloria Cleary.
Faris, meanwhile, insisted that she isn’t afraid of what “those girls” will say when they see her performance, or what audiences will think when they see that banana: She’s too busy worrying about her mother’s reaction.
“No,” she exclaimed, laughing at the thought. “Don’t show her!”
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