LOS ANGELES — In Hollywood, everything's relative. Anna Faris landed the lead in the new CBS comedy "Mom" just after she had become a mom.
The film actress was in no hurry to get back to work after her son was born just over a year ago. She was flirting with the idea of staying at home and letting her husband, actor Chris Pratt, work. Her priorities had shifted.
It was Pratt who got her to go back to work.
"I'd left the script on the kitchen counter and my husband picked it up. He read the first page, and said, 'Whatever you're doing, put it down right now.' He's like, 'This is you.' And it felt like that," Faris says.
"Every once in a while, you get fortunate enough to play a role that kind of feels like Cinderella's shoe. And this felt like she's so dimensional. She's a mess, which very much is like me.
"And it's a story about relationships and character. I've played a lot of one-dimensional characters in my career that haven't been so bright."
It's interesting that this script would be the one that changed her mind. She plays Christy, a single mother trying to get along the best she can despite having a mother (Allison Janney) who has been a total bust (and busted several times). When mom comes back into her life, Christy, must adjust to life with her mother's horrible influence.
The series launches Monday night in the time slot previously home for "Mike & Molly." The Melissa McCarthy/Billy Gardell sitcom will return as a mid-season replacement.
Taking on her first leading role in a TV series means Faris is leaving behind a film career that has included "The House Bunny," "Scary Movie," "Yogi Bear" and "The Hot Chick."
"Something strange happens. Playing those one-dimensional characters is actually really difficult because you're not dealing with somebody you would ever really know. I don't think anybody here sort of could imagine actually knowing Cindy Campbell from 'Scary Movie.' So in a way, your job is so much easier when you're playing a person that you really understand, that seems very relatable," Faris says. "I think I was coming to a place in my career where I was like, 'I'd like to do something a little more rewarding.' "
It was just the opposite for Janney.
Most of the roles the actress has played have been serious career women, such as her work in "West Wing" or "Struck By Lightning."
Now, she is playing a woman who has dealt with every addiction known to woman, man or beast and lived to tell the tale. She loves characters who are rooted in some kind of tragic sadness and dysfunction, a perfect way to describe this TV mom.
Faris is excited to work with Janney.
"I feel so honored that she came onto this project because she's such an incredible actress. She's also such an amazing person, and it is truly a joy to work," Faris says. "I think the relationship, mother-daughter thing is very, very relatable. She's sort of my biggest champion and my harshest critic and very, very critical of me, just like all moms are."
Monday, Sept. 23
"Mom," 9:30 p.m. , KGPE (Channel 47.1); "Hostages," 10 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1); "The Blacklist," 10 p.m. KSEE (Channel 24.1)
Returning shows: "How I Met Your Mother," 8 p.m. KGPE; "2 Broke Girls," 9 p.m. KGPE; "Castle," 10 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1)
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.