Since her new comedy series is titled “Bad Teacher,” Ari Graynor can be as “bad” as she wants. Within broadcast network standards, anyway.
Noted for sassy performances in such films as “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” and “For a Good Time, Call … ,” the actress assumes Cameron Diaz’s spot as the 2011 movie yields a CBS show starting Thursday (April 24).
Graynor’s Meredith is a materially minded divorcee seeking another mate, and a school where single dads pick up their kids for the weekend seems choice territory. Her educating skills are nil, so attitude-infused Meredith fakes a resume and persuades the principal (David Alan Grier) to hire her.
The good-humored Graynor tells Zap2it she finds it “endlessly fascinating” to play characters who, “to me, are all very different on the inside, but they all have a certain swagger and humor and confidence. Not that I don’t relate to those things, but personally, I feel so far away from them. Maybe that’s why I keep finding these roles, because it’s tapping into a whole other thing.”
Diaz is an executive producer of “Bad Teacher,” as are the film’s writers, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky. Graynor still hasn’t seen the movie, “which I’m ultimately glad I didn’t. My character and Cameron’s in the movie have different names and different histories and different reasons for being at the school, so it is very much my own character.”
With TV comedy veterans Sara Gilbert (“Roseanne”) and Kristin Davis (“Sex and the City”) playing fellow instructors, “Bad Teacher” marks what Graynor deems her first “big commitment” to series work.
“I read the pilot script,” she explains, “and it was so smart and the character was just so alive and fun, I was like, ‘How could anyone else do this? I have to do this!’ “