After Anna Faris and Chris Pratt break up, her new book becomes a heartfelt epitaph to their marriage

Chris Pratt and Anna Faris attending a premiere of the film Guardians of the galaxy, Vol. 2 in London.
Chris Pratt and Anna Faris attending a premiere of the film Guardians of the galaxy, Vol. 2 in London.PHOTO: REUTERS

(NYTimes) - On the first page of her new memoir, Unqualified, Anna Faris confesses that she's not exactly thrilled to be writing a book: "I'm terrified." Considering some of the personal and embarrassing revelations that follow, fear is understandable.

Faris, who stars in the CBS sitcom Mom and has appeared in nearly 40 movies, covers an impressive range of taboo subjects: her plastic surgery, her "crazy masturbation phase", the number - and names - of people she's slept with, and her feelings of jealousy when her husband, actor Chris Pratt, would appear on screen with beautiful co-stars.

But when she sold her memoir to Dutton last year, Faris had no idea how awkward things would get. The book, which was out on Tuesday, blends relationship advice with Faris' reflections on her romantic follies - yet it comes just a couple of months after the announcement of her separation from Pratt, after eight years of marriage.

She decided, as she often does when she's feeling uncertain, to plunge ahead, despite the fact that her book casts an idealistic light on their marriage and barely alludes to its demise.

"At first, I was really nervous about the idea of the book coming out and coinciding with these major life changes we were having, but Chris is amazing," Faris said in an interview, noting that she made minor revisions but decided not to drastically alter or postpone the publication.

For Faris, the breakup creates an added wrinkle for an already anxiety-inducing moment in her career, as she prepares to promote the book in television appearances and bookstore events where, inevitably, the subject of her marriage and separation will come up.

"The book release would have been terrifying regardless," she said, adding that it was even more so "with the new complications in my life".

"I've never done anything like this," she added. "I get to hide behind characters."

She's resigned herself to fielding questions about the split and says that if she had published the memoir a year from now, she would have had time to reflect on and address their separation in the book. "The story is kind of dull," she said. "It's a little bit like, two incredibly busy people that care a lot for each other got really busy."

Faris' editor at Dutton, Jill Schwartzman, said she was confident that the memoir wouldn't be overshadowed by Faris' separation because it's ultimately a funny and revealing look at Faris, through the lens of her relationships.

Unqualified, which grew out of Faris' popular podcast, is goofily self-deprecating, casually profane and occasionally raw, earnest and blunt, like Faris herself. She seems determined to catalogue her own flaws and foibles - an offensive tactic, she admits, against critics who would gladly pile on. She concedes that she can be heedless and impulsive in love.

But coming on the heels of her separation from Pratt, the book often reads like a love letter - or now, a heartfelt epitaph - to a marriage.

Faris chronicles the highs and lows, but mostly the highs, of their courtship and marriage. In a chapter titled, "Take Me Home Tonight. Literally", Faris recalls developing a crush on Pratt while working on the comedy Take Me Home Tonight, when she was still married to actor Ben Indra. After realising she was attracted to Pratt, Faris told Indra over the phone that she wanted a divorce, then announced to everyone on set that she had left her husband.

Later on, she describes how, on one of her first dates with Pratt, she ate a fly to impress him. She also reveals trying moments, like the wrenching weeks after their son Jack was born prematurely and had to spend about a month in the neonatal intensive care unit. In what would have been a stressful time for any parents, Faris and Pratt had the additional burden of facing paparazzi who stalked them at the hospital entrance.

With characteristic self-effacement, Faris also addresses the downsides of being a famous Hollywood couple, including her feelings of insecurity when Pratt starred with Jennifer Lawrence in the sci-fi epic Passengers and the tabloids speculated that they were a couple: "Of course it's hurtful and also embarrassing when people are saying your husband is cheating on you - even if it's patently untrue," Faris writes.

 

Pratt - who went from playing a lovable, dimwitted side character on the NBC sitcom Parks And Recreation to full-blown movie stardom, with leading roles in blockbusters like Guardians Of The Galaxy and Jurassic World - is a looming presence in Unqualified, from the first page to the acknowledgments.

Faris dedicated the book to him and thanks him for "being just about the best person I know". In his foreword to the book, Pratt obliquely references the separation, and intentionally butchers the spelling of "foreword", as part of a running joke that he doesn't know what the word means. "When I was asked to write the forward for Unqualified, Anna's memoir, I immediately said yes without even thinking about it," he writes. "And boy did a lot happen between then and now. So much. Like … soooo much."

Pratt also makes an extended guest appearance later in the book, in a chapter titled, "She Said, He Said: What It's Like to Be a Couple in Hollywood", which consists entirely of dialogue between them. (A publicist for Pratt said he was unable to comment for this article because "his schedule is completely overcommitted at this point.")