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How do you prepare for a comedy like SCARY MOVIE 4?

Especially with playing Cindy Campbell I have to do a lot of deep character analysis (jokes). I have to go to a dark place and delve into my past. (Laughs)

Seriously though comedy is one of the toughest things to get right?

In terms of this movie you have to trust in the material and the director. The easiest choice to make as an actor is just to play everything as seriously as possible. Because if you are silly, on top of all the silliness that's going on around you, then it is winking at the audience too much. As far as preparation goes I just have to be prepared to make a bit of a fool of myself. As Cindy Campbell there are a few moments when I get to be funny but most of the time I'm reacting off people. It's important that I know my position in the movie - which is to be a semi straight woman. Now I have had four movies on which to practice.

After four movies does it get any easier to keep a straight face?

I'm pretty good at it. Once I worked with an actor - whom I of course will not name - when it felt like he would laugh just to mess up your take. So I try to be pretty considerate and, as much as possible, I try not to laugh. Regina though kills me. And this is the second time I've worked with Chris Elliot and I have the hardest time not laughing with him. He's very naturally funny and witty and weird and I adore him.

Is physical comedy difficult to do?

Sometimes. Because Cindy is nice and sweet - and a little bit annoying - you have to take her down a bit. When I get hit on the head the way I fall is funnier than if I tumble bum first, which is the natural way to do it. That is really awkward. You have to learn how to fall straight back, which can be a little tough.

Did you ever get hurt?

There is a scene when I am hit by an airplane food cart. It was soft but there was wood in it which made it heavy. When it hit me the first point of contact was my nose and I really thought that I had broken my nose. But it is so frustrating because in the movie that scene happens so fast that it looks as though it could be a stunt double. But no, it was me.

When you did the first SCARY MOVIE did you think it could become this successful series?

When I did the first one I was so new to the whole industry. It was in 1999 and it was my first big role. It was my first audition in Hollywood. I was so out of my mind - I was just so scared. When it became a big hit I had no idea what that meant. It turns out that it just meant that there was going to be another one! I felt really grateful. And I feel really grateful that I am still here. Maybe some actors would feel that it was time to move on but I really enjoy making these movies. It's pretty rare that a woman gets to be funny and so I feel pretty grateful.

Are you a funny person?

No! I really don't think that I am. I was never the class clown or anything like that. When I was growing up and doing theatre in Seattle I was always doing very dramatic work. So it came as a surprise to my family and friends that I was in this comedy. Now I can't get a dramatic role to save my life! I only do comedy now so it's funny how life takes a turn.

You have a very down to earth image.

Thank you. I lead a pretty private life and I probably should go to more events to get more exposure. But I'm lazy and I love being at home and I love my friends and my husband and my life. Being at a premiere for your own movie is like being at your wedding - you feel overwhelmed. You have a bunch of 20-second conversations. Those moments are very surreal. But I have got used to buying a pair of jeans that cost $250, so I don't think that's very down to earth any more! But for the rest of it, I love my job but I like to keep it as my work.

Did Ang Lee say why he cast you in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN?

I auditioned for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. I had read the script and thought it was unbelievable. I had been a fan of Annie Proulx for a while. I auditioned for the role that Anne Hathaway got. Obviously I didn't get it. So Ang offered me the smaller role and my agent said it's just a glorified background actor role, but I remembered that role and thought it was really funny and a kind of a juicy role. So I flew to Calgary and Ang had never seen me perform the role before - so I started acting and I think he probably had me do it 15 to 17 times, somewhere in there. And I was starting to sweat and thinking that this was my opportunity to work with Ang Lee and I was blowing it. I thought my vision was completely wrong. So he had me do it over and over again. He would come up and give me direction but he is so soft spoken and has a thick accent - and I am really terrible with accents - so I had no idea what he was saying. I would just nod. Finally Jake Gyllenhaal leaned over said that Ang regularly did 15 takes and not to worry. I still worried of course and thought I was going to get cut out of the movie, but I'm there...I'm on it. It was really thrilling and I'm glad. I don't know if I'll get my next leading lady role because of that movie but it was a cool thing to be a part of.

But taking a smaller role suggests you see that as part of your process as evolving as an actress?

Yeah, definitely. To me that was an interesting role, even though it was really small. I thought that it was a sympathetic if annoying character.

Do you prefer serious movies over comedies?

No, I enjoy both equally. I can appreciate how difficult comedy is and I like movies that don't take themselves too seriously. But I also really enjoy dramatic pieces.

You must wish they were still writing Judy Holliday type comedies?

There are a lot of great comediennes who have influenced me. But I never ever thought that I would have any comedic ability. My family didn't think so either. My brother said to me the other day, 'What happened to you? You used to be so uptight and anal and serious. Now you're fun-loving and really cool to be around.'

So movies changed you?

I think so, I really do. I think that I'm also at a happier place in my life as I get older. I'm 29 and I just feel happier. When you are younger you battle demons of just growing up. So I'm happier and I also think that the movies have given me more of an ability to laugh at myself.

What do your family think of the SCARY MOVIE series?

My parents were really strict when I was growing up. When we all went to the theatre to see the first SCARY MOVIE I warned my momma when I told her to get up and go and buy popcorn, she had to go and buy popcorn. But I'd like to think that I'd broken my parents in early. At least because I couldn't have been part of a raunchier movie so that when I go on to play a crack whore that's naked all the time my parents won't be so upset.

Do you want to do more serious movies?

People ask that a lot but it's more about just playing interesting roles. I don't necessarily want to be a part of a dramatic movie just because it's dramatic. I think of myself as more of a character actress than probably most young actresses out there think of themselves. That's my passion.

How might your family have coped if you had done Carmen Electra's bathroom scene in SCARY MOVIE 4?

I think my mom would just be happy that I had my corset on. When we were shooting that scene it was just supposed to be a sexy little tinkle!

Did you do any scenes in the SCARY MOVIES that developed into something else?

In the first SCARY MOVIE there is a bit when bats fly out from my nether regions - and I wasn't expecting that! They are pretty straightforward with me, they know I can handle whatever it takes. Now it takes the pressure off a little bit because the movies are PG-13 instead of R.

Did you ever say no to anything?

There was a scene in the first SCARY MOVIE where during a love-making bit when they wanted me to have some of the remnants of love-making all over my body. I said no to that. That's the only thing I can think of that I said no to. I'm pretty game, I roll with the punches.

What's next?

I finished a movie called MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND and I'm currently shooting another movie called SMILEY FACE. So it's cool, I've been busy.

Are you planning time off to chill?

Yeah. We just moved house. I have barely unpacked, I can't find anything.

Do you have children?

Not yet but we have two little pound cats...rescued kittens.

There is plenty of time for a family?

I would hope so. I don't want to wait too long, I'd like to have a kid around 33. But it's so tough because things are kind of happening more for me now and I think that would be a huge chunk of time. You have to strike when the iron's hot as an actress. I'd love to be in a place with my career where I could feel I would afford the luxury of taking time off for children.

Do you still worry about where the next role is coming from?

Definitely, I don't know when you get so you are not worried any more. I'd like to think that I have a slight advantage because I enjoy playing characters and maybe I can keep doing it for long time.

Do you have a favourite scene in SCARY MOVIE 4?

Probably the end scene with Craig Bierko and 'Oprah'.

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