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 411mania » Movies » Columns

411Mania Interviews: Ari Graynor (Bad Teacher)
Posted by Al Norton on 05.08.2014

Ari Graynor has amassed quite a resume for herself in a relatively short amount of time, with multi-episode runs on The Sopranos and Fringe, guest spots on Veronica Mars, Numb3rs, and CSI: Miami, and voice work on Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and American Dad! She can currently be seen starring in the CBS comedy Bad Teacher, airing Thursdays at 9:30pm.

Al Norton: *You and Mindy Kaling...What are they putting in the water at Buckingham Browne & Nichols to produce such talented, funny, and beautiful women?

Ari Gryanor: A. I think I speak for Mindy when I say thank you. B. I feel like it has something to do with the red sauce and soft Italian bread Sal would serve with lunch on Wednesdays. And C. I just feel so incredibly lucky to have gone to a school with such amazing teachers in an environment where being a confident, smart, unique young woman was encouraged and applauded. If CBS was doing a situational comedy about BB&N it would instead be called The Best Teacher.

Al Norton: How did Cameron Diaz' performance in the movie Bad Teacher influence your work on the show?

Ari Graynor: Well its interesting because it's actually not the same role. The character that I play and the character that Cameron plays are different people, like the characters themselves actually have different names, different histories. The whole set up of the show is different. So if anything, I tried to stay away from the movie so I wouldn't be tempted to needlessly compare myself to her (and probably lose). But I am a big Cameron Diaz fan and am probably influenced by her in my work in general without even realizing it. I've watched My Best Friend's Wedding so many times I don't know how she wouldn't have seeped in there somehow.

Al Norton: Are you at all surprised at some of what CBS has let the show get away with?

Ari Graynor: Yes and no. One of the things I love about our show is that the things that Meredith does and says are completely inappropriate, outrageous and sometimes in bad taste - but all in the best way - and not dirty or so far out there you can't get on board with where the story is taking you.

Al Norton: Not that you don't keep yourself in fantastic shape all the time but did you feel extra pressure after you got cast, knowing what Meredith's wardrobe would be like?

Ari Graynor: How amazing are those clothes!? Kime Buzzelli, our costumer designer, did such an amazing job. I only felt pressure from myself - and not even so much for physical reasons, but for emotional reasons. I can and have spent so much energy in my life towards self-loathing about how I feel about myself, how I feel about how I look. And of course the connection between how you feel and how you eat is massively significant. But, I just wanted to make sure I was focusing all that energy into the show and into Meredith (who is the most confident person alive). And really ask myself - is the binge at craft service at 2am gonna be worth it? Or will the personal toll be too high? And the answer was usually once or twice a week it really was worth it, but definitely not nightly.

Al Norton: How frustrating/maddening was the wait between the pickup and finally getting to air?

Ari Graynor: I was actually sort of relieved to be able to shoot this first season while we weren't on the air. This whole world of being a series regular on a show was so new to me it was nice to be able to just focus on the work rather than also be doing press or tracking the response at the same time. That being said, from pilot to series pickup, on a scale of 1 to nervous breakdown: full nervous breakdown.

Al Norton: Is Ryan Hanson the best comedic actor on TV who's not yet a huge star?

Ari Graynor: Probably yes.

Al Norton: If you were in charge of the world of casting for a day, what current series would you guest on?

Ari Graynor: Please give me a role on the new season of The Comeback!!!

Al Norton: Can you tell me something about Thursday's episode, and also maybe something about the show that might surprise people that haven't tuned in yet?

Ari Graynor: This episode starts with a pancake breakfast for the teachers. For some reason, I thought it would be hilarious if Meredith just kept eating plain butter throughout the whole thing - just licking pats. I think one shot of it is left in, but man, did I go for it that day. Also, for those of you who appreciate my drunk work - Meredith gets pretty hungover at an inopportune time. And the major icing on the cake - David Alan Grier tries to climb a rope.

Don't miss Bad Teacher, Thursdays at 9:30pm on CBS


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