The Verge: Ari Graynor

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A night of excessive drinking can lead to hangovers or worse for most people, but for actress Ari Graynor, it's brought nothing but a wealth of career opportunities. After playing the ultimate drunk girl in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Graynor's been booking gigs left and right, including a role as the blond bombshell Eva Destruction in Drew Barrymore's Whip It and a multi-episode arc on Fox's Fringe. Graynor's fall season was originally supposed to get even more crowded with the release of the Michael Cera comedy Youth in Revolt (where she plays the young, bikini-clad girlfriend of Steve Buscemi), but that film's since been bumped to 2010, a year Graynor already has four other films set to bow in.

Finding time to talk to the busy 26-year-old wasn't easy, but Graynor managed to squeeze in some time between shoots to dish with Movieline about tormenting Ellen Page, making out with Steve Buscemi, and attaching herself to the most outlandish plots Hollywood has to offer.

It's interesting that you're in Whip It, Ari, because in a lot of ways, you're kind of like a new Drew Barrymore.

Oh my God. That's the best compliment ever. Thank you!

Well, you both kill in comic roles and you've both got this bubbly, contagious enthusiasm onscreen.

Oh, thank you! Yeah, I mean, getting that call from her...it was the first straight offer that I've ever had, Whip It, and it came from a phone call from Drew while I was out to dinner with my mom and my boyfriend in New York. It was pretty much the most incredible phone call you could ever receive. It had sort of been a film that I'd been tracking for months and months -- not for any particular role, I just loved the script. I thought it was a great story, I loved the message, I thought the idea of having an almost all-female cast was incredible, and obviously, I have so much respect for Drew. Her calling me was an absolute dream come true.

From what I can gather, Drew cast a lot of the roles that way, in that she had very specific people in mind and zeroed in on them. Do you know what it was that made her come after you?

I think a lot of "small world" stuff happened around that time. I was working on Youth in Revolt at the time with [director] Miguel Arteta, who's one of Drew's best friends, and I think Miguel was probably very instrumental in me being in Whip It. Also, Mandate Pictures produced Nick and Norah and they also produced Whip It, and I had met with the casting people ages ago but I had heard Drew had already got a cast together. Then I got a call from Miguel after July 4 saying he had been with Drew and she had this one role left, and he was speaking to her about me and the casting directors were talking to her about me...it was just all these things coming together. So she saw some tapes, and it happened. It was sort of amazing.

Were you a good skater before this? Would I find a pair of fuchsia rollerblades in Ari Graynor's closet, circa 1995?

Oh my God, absolutely not! I do not have an athletic bone in my body. I had maybe been on roller skates once in seventh grade, at a roller skating birthday party. I definitely had my work cut out for me [on Whip It]. When Drew called, she called to offer me the role on a Monday, and that was the Monday that derby training was beginning. It took four days for me to get out there, so I had just a little over two weeks of training. The first day, I literally couldn't even stand in skates, so me getting on that big track and attempting to skate around and do any of the fun derby hits or blocks was a bonus.

Did you nail it by the time you started shooting?

There was a moment by the end of shooting where I felt I was having fun up there, for sure. It's an amazing feeling when you get your skate legs and you're going really fast with all these women around you. I still feel like I could have been better if I'd had a little more time, but that's probably just what I tell myself in my dreams. [Laughs]

You're sort of Drew's rival in the movie, though.

A little bit. I play Eva Destruction, captain of the Black Widows, which is one of the other teams. Juliette [Lewis] is sort of the main rival in the time, but I didn't get to quite thrown down and have any major rivalries with any of the other girls. I think I tried to talk a little smack to Ellen Page's character on the track, but that was about it.

Did that bring back joyous memories of when you tortured her character in An American Crime?

[Laughs] A little! You couldn't find two more different films than An American Crime and Whip It, so it's funny that Ellen and I got reunited in this film. But she's amazing too, and it was so exciting to get off the plane from Michigan and walk out and see her there. American Crime was so heavy and Ellen is such an incredible actor and she really put herself through it for the movie -- I think we all did -- so it was really fun to be able to see each other in a much lighter environment.

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