The Performers‘ Ari Graynor Is Ready For a Good Time

The young star offers her frank opinions on women and sex, Barbra Streisand, and the perils of stage fright.

Ari Graynor
(© David Gordon)
Ari Graynor
(© David Gordon)

Although she is only 29, Ari Graynor is already a familiar face to theater, television, and film audiences. She made her Broadway debut in Brooklyn Boy, co-starred in The Little Dog Laughed and Relatively Speaking, and her many television and film credits include The Sopranos, Veronica Mars, Fringe , and Celeste and Jesse Forever.

Graynor can now be seen on the big screen in the Sundance favorite For A Good Time Call… about two “frenemies” who move into a fabulous Gramercy Park apartment and start a phone sex line business, and will co-star with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand this Christmas in The Guilt Trip. She also returns to Broadway this fall in The Performers, a new comedy about romance in the adult film industry, alongside Henry Winkler, Alicia Silverstone, and Cheyenne Jackson. She recently talked to TheaterMania about simulating phone sex, working with Barbra Streisand, and why she’s scared to go back to the theater.

THEATERMANIA:For A Good Time Call… is really about female friendship. How do you think men will react to the movie?
ARI GRAYNOR: It’s remarkable how many men have responded to the film. Certainly there is some female behavior that’s baffling to men, but at the same time there’s something interesting to them about being a fly on the wall. And while female and male friendships differ in many ways, friendship intimacy is universal. So hopefully with the added scintillating phone sex part of it men will give it a shot.

TM: How important was it to show how women really talk to each other, especially about sex?
AG: It is how we talk. There’s a sense of fun and freedom. Women talk about sex and I think there’s something really nice about taking the shame out of that. I think people get so afraid of female sexuality and it felt really freeing to talk about it in a way that we already do.

TM: What was it like to shoot the phone sex scenes?
AG: What we were saying in the phone sex scenes was so outrageous it was easier to do than the more intimate scenes. When things felt real is when we got blushy.

TM: Were there any moments where you thought ‘Oh my god, my parents will see this!”?
AG: I’ve already put my parents through the wringer with a number of my jobs! I don’t know if you saw The Sitter, but both my parents saw that! Throughout the years there have been a lot of awkward things for them to see!

TM: You co-star with Barbra Streisand in The Guilt Trip. What was that experience like?
AG: I can’t talk too much about it, but I will just say that there isn’t a bigger dream come true than being in the same zip code as Barbra Streisand! The script for that movie is genius. Nothing could better.

TM: You’re heading back to Broadway at a time when your film career is really taking off. Why is that an important thing to do?
AG: I started doing theater when I was seven. The theater is a sense of home for me. On stage you have nothing to hide behind. It allows the work to live in a more organic place. It’s almost like a meditation. You have to go on that stage and be as present as possible. It’s an incredible thing when you are creating something in a moment with the other people on stage and with an audience and you are all experiencing it together,as it exists in that one night. It’s a magical feeling.

TM: Is there something different about doing theater now after you’ve done so much work on camera?
AG: I’ve started to get more stage fright the older I get. I think part of it is when I started to do movies I was really nervous and not sure how to negotiate that world. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become more comfortable in that world, or there’s more fear in being in front of an audience, or if it’s just a certain amount of self-doubt, as you get older. But it’s interesting that it’s come up. I find myself terrified to do the next play. It’s scary — but it’s also worth it.

Featured In This Story

The Performers

Closed: November 18, 2012