Anna Kay Faris was born on November 29, 1976, in Baltimore, Maryland, the second child of Jack, a sociology professor, and Karen Faris, a special education teacher. Both her parents, natives of Seattle, Washington, were living in Baltimore at the time of Faris' birth, as her father had accepted a professorship at Towson University. When Faris was six years old, the family relocated from Baltimore to Edmonds, Washington. Her father worked at the University of Washington as a vice president of internal communications, and later headed the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association, while her mother taught at Seaview Elementary School in Edmonds. Faris has an older brother, Robert, who is also a sociologist and professor at the University of California, Davis. In interviews, Faris has described her parents as "ultra liberal" and said that she and her brother were raised in an irreligious but "very conservative," traditional atmosphere. At age six, her parents enrolled her in a community drama class for kids as they usually encouraged her to act. She enjoyed watching plays and eventually produced her own material in her bedroom with friends who lived in her neighborhood. Faris has said in interviews she often imagined her retainer talking to her, remarking that she would picture herself "on talk shows to talk about [her] talking retainer".
Faris attended Edmonds-Woodway High School (from where she graduated in 1994), and while studying, she performed onstage with a Seattle repertory company and in nationally broadcast radio plays. She once described herself as a drama-club "dork", stating that she used to wear a Christmas-tree skirt in school and did not date until senior year. "I liked guys, but no one really liked me", she recalled. She then attended the University of Washington and earned a degree in English literature in 1999. Despite her love for acting, Faris admitted she "never really thought [she] wanted to become a movie star" and continued to act "just to make some extra money", hoping one day to publish a novel. After graduating college, Faris was going to travel to London, where she had a receptionist job lined up at an ad agency. However, she ended up living in Los Angeles "at the last minute", once she committed to the idea of pursuing mainstream acting, eventually getting the starring role in Scary Movie. At 22, she lived on her own in a studio apartment located at the Ravenswood in Hancock Park.
Her parents encouraged her to pursue acting when she was young, and she gave her first professional acting performance when she was 9 years old in a three-month run of Arthur Miller's play Danger: Memory! at the Seattle Repertory Theater. For her work, Faris was paid US$250, which was "huge" for her at the time. "I felt like I was rolling in the dough", she recalled. She went on to play Scout in a production of To Kill a Mockingbird at the Issaquah, Washington, Village Theatre, and played the title character in Heidi and Rebecca in Our Town. While attending high school, Faris appeared in a frozen yogurt TV commercial. Around this time, "my third or fourth job was a training video for Red Robin, which is a burger chain out West. I play, like, the perfect hostess. And I think they still use it", she said in May 2012. Faris had a small role in the made-for-TV movie Deception: A Mother's Secret, where she played a character named Liz, and later was cast in a supporting role in the indie drama Eden, which was screened at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. Faris' first major film role came shortly after college with her indie slasher film, Lovers Lane (1999), in which she played an ill-fated cheerleader. A B-movie, it was released directly to video, going largely unnoticed commercially. Critical reception towards the feature was mixed, but for her part, Faris got her early acting reviews by writers; website efilmcritic.com's Greg Muskewitz found her to be "the one center of interest" of the movie.
Faris' break-out role came in 2000 when she starred in the horror-comedy parody film Scary Movie, portraying Cindy Campbell, a play on the character of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) in the slasher thriller Scream. It marked her first starring credit, as she had only appeared in small and supporting parts in theater plays and low-budgeted features until then. Faris saw the experience of working on the movie as a "great boot camp" for her, as she told UK's The Guardian in 2009, explaining that she "hadn't done much before that. With those movies, you have to be so exact with your props and the physical comedy and everything, so it was a great training ground". The movie was a major commercial success, ranking atop the box office charts with a US$42 million opening weekend gross. It went on to earn US$278 million worldwide. For her performance, she received nominations for the Breakthrough Female Performance and Best Kiss Awards at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards. Faris subsequently reprised her role in Scary Movie 2, released on July 4, 2001.
Her next film appearance was in a supporting role in the indie horror May, playing Polly, the lesbian colleague of a lonely and traumatized young woman who desperately attempts to connect with people. The movie premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and received a release in selected theaters. In its review for May, The Digital Fix found the production to be "one of the finest examples of independent American genre filmmaking" and asserted that Faris played her role "with an infectious level of enthusiasm, frequently skirting the border between a believable performance and one that is completely over the top, but always managing to come down on the right side". Later in 2002, she starred alongside Rob Schneider and Rachel McAdams in the comedy The Hot Chick, about a teenage girl whose mind is magically swapped with that of a 30-year-old criminal.
In 2003, she was "cast last-minute" opposite Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Sofia Coppola's drama Lost in Translation, where she played an actress promoting an action movie. Faris felt the film gave her the chance to get people know her body of work a "little more", and called it "the best experience of [her] life". The same year, she portrayed Cindy Campbell for the third time in Scary Movie 3. Afterward, Faris debuted on the last season of the sitcom Friends in the recurring role of Erica, the mother whose twin babies are adopted by Chandler and Monica.
She filmed a small part in Ang Lee's drama Brokeback Mountain (2005) in the summer of 2004. As her character had just "one scene in the movie", she only spent two days on set in Calgary. For the film, Faris, along with her co-stars, received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. In 2005, she also appeared in the comedies Waiting... and Just Friends, both alongside Ryan Reynolds. Waiting... was a low-budget indie about several restaurant employees who collectively stave off boredom and adulthood with their antics. In the Christmas romantic feature Just Friends, Faris portrayed Samantha James, an emerging, self-obsessed pop singer. The film follows a formerly overweight nerd (played by co-star Reynolds) who reconnects with his lifelong romantic crush after arriving home in New Jersey with Faris' character in his company. The role earned her nominations for one MTV Movie Award and two Teen Choice Awards.
She played Cindy Campbell for the fourth and final time in Scary Movie 4, which opened on April 14, 2006. It was initially intended to be the final chapter in the Scary Movie franchise but a fifth feature was released by The Weinstein Company on April 12, 2013. She did not return to appear in the film. Later in 2006, she appeared opposite Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson in Ivan Reitman's superhero romantic comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend, playing Hannah, the co-worker of Wilson's character, who is secretly in love with him. She and Thurman both got an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Fight.
Faris headlined Gregg Araki's indie black comedy Smiley Face, where she played Jane F, a young woman who has a series of misadventures after eating a large number of cupcakes laced with cannabis. Danny Masterson, John Krasinski and Adam Brody co-starred in the picture, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival before it was given a very small theatrical release in Los Angeles. As for the movie itself, reviews were largely positive for Anna's part; according to the film-critics aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, writers agreed the actress' "bright performance and Gregg Araki's sharp direction" made the film "more than [the] average stoner comedy." Her role earned her the "Stonette of the Year" prize at High Times magazine's Stony Awards.
She was cast opposite Diane Keaton and Jon Heder in the indie comedy Mama's Boy, which came out theatrically on November 30, 2007. Distributed for a limited release to certain parts of the United States only, the movie was a commercial and critical failure. She followed this appearance with a starring part in a mainstream feature; Fred Wolf's comedy The House Bunny. She appeared as Shelley, a former Playboy bunny who signs up to be the "house mother" of an unpopular university sorority after finding out she must leave the Playboy Mansion. Although the movie received average reviews, critics' reactions towards Anna's part were unanimously favorable, most of them agreeing, according to website Rotten Tomatoes, that she was "game" in what they called a "middling, formulaic comedy". The film was released on August 22, 2008 in the US, and made US$70 million in its global theatrical run.
Faris' first movie of 2009 was the British science fiction-comedy Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, which follows two social outcasts and their cynical friend as they attempt to navigate a time travel conundrum in the middle of a British pub. Faris played Cassie, a girl from the future who sets the adventure in motion. The Guardian described her appearance as a "bewildered cameo". The picture only received a theatrical release in the UK, and later had several television premiere airings across Europe.
In the black comedy Observe and Report (2009), Faris co-starred opposite Seth Rogen, portraying a bitchy cosmetic counter employee on whom Rogen has a crush. She was drawn to appear in the movie, as it gave Faris the opportunity to play an "awful character", rather than the usual "roles where you have to win the audience over or win the guy over, and be charming". Controversy arose regarding a scene where Rogen is having sex with Faris' intoxicated character, with various advocacy groups commenting that the part of the film constituted date rape. Budgeted at US$18 million, Observe and Report made US$26 million.
She next lent her voice to the animated Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the live-action hybrid Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, both of which were highly profitable. She appeared in the computer-animated live action film Yogi Bear, that was released by Warner Bros. on December 17, 2010. It received largely negative reviews, with many critics unimpressed by the film's screenplay. The Hollywood Reporter, while admitting to find her "very talented" in its verdict, wondered "what on earth" made her agree to play her role. The film, however, made US201 million worldwide.
Faris' following movie, the retro comedy Take Me Home Tonight, received a wide theatrical release on March 4, 2011, four years after it was made. It was panned by critics and flopped at the box office. She then obtained a Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice Movie Actress – Comedy. She next had the starring part and served as executive producer of What's Your Number?, where she co-appeared alongside Chris Evans. In the movie, she played a woman who looks back at the past nineteen men she's had relationships with in her life and wonders if one of them might be her one true love. It garnered generally mediocre reviews from writers, who concluded that the "comic timing" of Faris was "sharp as always", but felt it was wasted in "this predictable, boilerplate comedy". The film was released on September 30, 2011, and made US$30 million worldwide. She followed this movie with voice-over work in the sequel Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (released in December 2011) where she reprised the role of Jeanette.
Her next on-screen appearance was the following year, playing Zoey in the political satire The Dictator (2012), co-starring Sacha Baron Cohen. Faris was eager to work with Baron Cohen as she had been a fan of his "for years". She found the experience of acting with him "really hard, but also really exciting" as it was "90 percent" improvised. Upon its premiere, critics gave the film moderately positive reviews, with Faris' role garnering a similar reception; Los Angeles Times called her "the film's standout" and stated that when "she opens her mouth, that rasp that has made her so much fun to watch (the "Scary Movie" franchise most memorably) takes hold and turns the dialogue inside out. The kind of true-believer purity she brings to Zoey's eco-terrorizing rants comes close to stealing Baron Cohen's comic thunder". The picture was a box office success, grossing US$179 million globally, and earned Faris the Star of the Year Award at the National Association of Theatre Owners.
Her first 2013 release was Movie 43, an independent anthology black comedy that featured 14 different storylines, with each segment having a different director. Faris' segment, titled The Proposition, was directed by Steve Carr and revolves around a man who attempts to propose to his girlfriend, but she reveals to him that she is a coprophiliac. This marked Faris' third collaboration with husband Chris Pratt, following the 2011 comedies Take Me Home Tonight and What's Your Number?. The portmanteau film saw modest box office receipts and was universally panned by critics, with the Chicago Sun-Times calling it "the Citizen Kane of awful". In the British romantic-comedy I Give It a Year (2013), Faris had the supporting role of Chloe, an old flame of Rafe Spall's character, who just hastily tied the knot with Nat (Rose Byrne). Released shortly after Movie 43, the film received mixed reviews and was a commercial success in the UK.
In January 2013, she was cast in the main role of the CBS sitcom series Mom, which debuted later that year on September 23. Her character is Christy, a newly-sober single mom who tries to pull her life together in Napa Valley. As she landed the part, the show gave Faris, who had guest-starred in various television programs until then, her first full-time television role. Besides being a ratings success, the sitcom has received generally favorable reviews; Vulture called her "the most talented comic actress of her generation", and Boston Herald critic, Mark A. Perigard wrote in his verdit: "This is dark material, yet Faris balances it with a genuine winsomeness, able to wring laughs out of the most innocuous lines". She has been nominated for one Prism Award and two People's Choice Awards.
Faris reprised her voice role as weather intern Sam Sparks in the animated science-fiction comedy sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, that was released on September 27, 2013. The film was highly profitable, with sales of US$274.3 million. The following year, she had an uncredited cameo in the closing-credits sequence of the action-comedy 22 Jump Street, appearing in a segment called 30 Jump Street: Flight Academy.
She launched Unqualified, a free-form advice podcast, in November 2015; she is the host of the show, which features human interest stories and interviews with celebrities as they offer relationship advices to callers. She reprised the voice-over role of Jeanette in The Road Chip, the fourth installment in the Alvin and the Chipmunks film series. The movie was released on December 18, 2015 by 20th Century Fox. In the 2016 action-comedy Keanu, Faris had a brief appearance as an exaggerated version of herself.
Released in April 2016, Faris stars in the music video for the song "Hold On To Me" by Mondo Cozmo.
Faris is the voice of a principal character, "Jailbreak", in the Summer 2017 Sony/Columbia Pictures animation release The Emoji Movie.
During her career, Faris has become notable for her prevalent comedic work and has been called one of the "most talented comic actresses" of her generation by several publications. Cosmopolitan magazine named her "the Cosmo’s Fun Fearless Female of the Year" in 2010, and Tad Friend described her in The New Yorker as "Hollywood's most original comic actress". A Vulture article called Faris "her generation's Goldie Hawn" and she has been often compared to comedian Lucille Ball. The Wrap likening her to Ball asserted the actress "has impeccable timing and isn't afraid to cast dignity aside in pursuit of a hardy laugh".
Although various of her movies have fared badly with film critics and audiences, Faris remains often acclaimed for her portrayals in most of them; The A.V. Club once stated it was a "pleasure to watch" Faris on screen and described her as "a gifted, likeable comedian who tends to be the best element of many terrible movies". Slant magazine's Dana Stevens wrote in her review for Faris' vehicle What's Your Number?: "More than any contemporary comedienne I can think of [...] Faris demonstrates this fearless anything-for-a-laugh quality. It would be wonderful to see her in a movie that tested the limits of that audacity, rather than forcing her to tamp it down". Most critics agree that her 2007 indie comedy Smiley Face remains one of her best films; Los Angeles Times remarked that this film was "an opportunity for the actress to show that she can carry a movie composed of often hilarious nonstop misadventures. No matter how outrageously or foolishly Faris' Jane behaves, she remains blissfully appealing—such are Faris' fearless comedic skills and the freshness of her radiant blond beauty".
Faris has appeared on the covers and photo sessions of several magazines throughout her career; she graced the September 2000 cover of Raygun, and in subsequent years the list has included Playboy, Self, Cosmopolitan, among others. She was featured in GQ UK's June 2001 pictorial of "Young Hollywood". She has been listed as No. 57, No. 39, No. 42 and No. 44 in Maxim magazine's "Hot 100" in 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively. In 2009, she was ranked No. 60 in FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World", and ranked No. 96 on the same list in 2010. Ask Men also featured her as No. 78 on its 2009 "100 Most Desirable Women in the World" list.
Faris started dating actor Ben Indra shortly after they met on the set of the 1999 indie slasher Lovers Lane. They married in June 2004. Faris filed for divorce in April 2007 citing irreconcilable differences. As part of their divorce agreement, which was finalized in February 2008, she agreed to pay Indra $900,000 in addition to other property and acting royalties.
Faris met actor Chris Pratt in early 2007 at the table read in Los Angeles for the film Take Me Home Tonight; in the film, their characters were love interests. They started dating shortly after, became engaged in late 2008, and married on July 9, 2009, in a small ceremony in Bali, Indonesia, eloping on a whim after a friend's wedding. The couple have a son, Jack, who was born in August 2012; he was nine weeks premature and spent a month in the NICU before going home. The family lived in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles.
On August 6, 2017, the couple announced their legal separation.