Anna Faris came close to leaving Hollywood in the rearview mirror.
In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, the star of the new movie The Estate says she contemplated retiring after she left the hit CBS sitcom Mother in 2020. Faris, 45, played recovering alcoholic Christy Plunkett on creator Chuck Lorre’s show for seven seasons starting in 2013.
Following her departure, “it felt like the first time that I didn’t have my foot on the gas,” says Faris, who rose to fame in 2000 with Scary Movie and spent the next two decades chasing job after job while “feeling competitive, feeling comparative.”
Stepping away from that was a relief — so much, in fact, that Faris contemplated walking away from her career entirely: “I was like, ‘Do I have enough [money] to retire?'”
Rather than do that, Faris simply decided to slow down and reevaluate. “I really started to think about where I wanted to go in terms of career,” she continues. “And I definitely was enjoying all that free time.”
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Faris and cinematographer Michael Barrett, 52, eloped last summer, and she spent more time with family — including Jack, the 10-year-old son she shares with ex-husband Chris Pratt and Barrett’s two children from a previous marriage — before turning back to acting earlier this year.
“For The Estate to come along, it felt like Cinderella’s shoe a little bit in terms of a job. We got to shoot in New Orleans, a city that I love, with this incredible cast. And we got to play. It reminded me of my love for performing,” she says.
The Estate is a very adult comedy about scheming sisters Savanna (Faris) and Macey (Toni Collette) competing with their cousins (David Duchovny and Rosemarie DeWitt) in a quest to worm their way into the will of their mean, terminally ill aunt Hilda (Kathleen Turner ).
After her many turns portraying sweet, bubbly blondes in fan favorites like 2008’s The House Bunny“there’s such liberation in getting to play kind of atrocious people,” says Faris. “The emphasis for so much of my career felt like the likability factor: ‘Is she likable?’ That always felt like the mantra. So I had a blast playing Savanna. It nurtured something in me.”
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Working with Collette was a draw, too. “It was such a dream to work with Toni, and a lifelong goal,” says Faris. “So when the script came in and Toni was attached, I was like, how can I be a part of this? How can I be a part of this?”
Her experience on the movie was “refreshing” she says. “On Mother, which was really rewarding in a very different way, everything is very precise. Sitcoms are incredibly surgical, and there’s no room for that kind of play. Everything is very choreographed. The dialogue is incredibly precise. And so from my first project out of that experience, to me it felt just completely rejuvenating. It made me really excited, and I hadn’t felt that way in a while.”
Faris shocked fans when she announced her departure from Mother just days before the show entered production on its eighth (and what would be final) season two years ago. “The past seven years on Mother have been some of the most fulfilling and rewarding of my career. I’m so thankful to Chuck, the writers, and my amazing castmates for creating a truly wonderful work experience,” she said in a statement at the time. “While my journey as Christy has come to an end, allowing me to pursue new opportunities, I’ll be watching next season and rooting for my TV family.”
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The Estate premieres in theaters Nov. 4.