Bad Teacher, the new half hour comedy series based on the Cameron Diaz movie of the same name, premieres on CBS this Thursday, April 24th. Nerdist had a chance to speak with Ari Graynor and her co-star Sara Gilbert to discuss re-imagining the popular film on the small screen, how the show differs from the movie, and what it’s like for the actresses to play a bunch of girls behaving badly.
When I sat down with Ari Graynor, the star and co-producer of the series, I started by asking her if she had seen the 2011 film. “Have not seen the movie. Accidentally didn’t see it and then when I knew this was happening, consciously didn’t see it because this is so its own thing.” Graynor explained, “Cameron’s character and my character have different names, have different backstories, and I was just too worried that I would get in my head and in my own way, and who wants to compare themselves to Cameron Diaz? You’re going to lose that battle.”
Taking a popular movie from the big screen to the small screen is no easy task. What drew Graynor to the project in the first place? “I think one of the things, not one of the things, the major thing that appealed to me when I read the script after years of saying no to television was really feeling the dearth of female characters in film and TV. There was a recent study that came out and in the top 300 movies in 2013, either 15% or 19% were female protagonists. That is an unbelievably small number, and then [I started] thinking how many of those are any kind of strong women.” Graynor continued, “[E]specially seeing this role and seeing someone who is so confident and so unapologetic and not a victim and not someone who is sitting in her uncertainty and in her past but taking charge and looking forward and pulling herself up by her boot straps and saying, ‘I’m going to get what I want,’ I think is incredibly important and a fun thing to see… ”
Television alum Sara Gilbert was also happy to get to be a part of a project that was so fearless. Gilbert had seen the film and recalled her excitement to be involved with the adaptation. “I love the way that women get to be the strong, central characters in it,” said Gilbert. “I mean, in my own life I’m always drawn to rule breakers, and I love watching it, I love being around it. I probably have a little bit of a rebellious side, but I’m drawn to people that have even more rebellious.”
Her character doesn’t seem to be much like the actress in real life. Was she at all hesitant about playing a role so far from herself? “I was nervous playing such a heightened character because I don’t usually do that and I didn’t know if it would just look crazy or if it would work, and it’s really fun. I love doing it. I have such a passion for playing something so extreme now. It’s definitely a change and it’s great to get to do both.”
Bad Teacher, starring Ari Graynor, Sara Gilbert, Kristin Davis, Ryan Hansen, David Alan Grier, and Caitlin Kimball premieres this Thursday, April 24 on CBS.