From a booth at the restaurant Birds, actress Anna Kendrick eyes a TV commercial across the room. “How about that pocket hose, huh? It’s a little tiny hose and it gets big. It’s a real space-saver,” she says. “If you have a yard that needs watering, I think you’ve got enough space for a hose. Sorry.”
In addition to ridiculing infomercials over lunch in Franklin Village, Kendrick does many other things that adorkable, 27-year-old Angelenos are supposed to do — not because they’re cool but simply because she wants to. She frequents hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurants and art-house theaters like Cinefamily and the New Beverly, sometimes by herself. She uses Instagram, and Snapchat, the latter of which is perfect for celebrities since the images disappear in seconds. She obsesses over the hoarding phenomenon, even hanging out in the Reddit community devoted to discussing the gory details.
She’s done most things right in her career, too, rising to a level of welcome ubiquity that rivals Neil Patrick Harris and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fellow actor-singer-dancer-comedians who are so likable and of-the-moment that they can do no wrong. Kendrick effortlessly bounces from a Twilight sequel to Joe Swanberg’s upcoming micro-brewing indie, Drinking Buddies, to the in-production film version of the cult musical The Last Five Years. Her solo in the a cappella movie Pitch Perfect — which involved a 75-year-old Appalachian folk song and a cup used as a percussion instrument, a trick she discovered via a video posted on, yes, Reddit — hit No. 64 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Still, Kendrick has a broad self-deprecating streak, which she’s channeled into her million-plus-follower Twitter account. Her most famous tweet implied she masturbated to Ryan Gosling movies (a joke, she clarifies). She sends consistently funny lines like, “Fuck you, recipes that list something chopped, covered in olive oil and baked for 20 minutes as an ‘ingredient.’ I am not Wonder Woman.”
“It’s nice to be able to check in with the universe,” she says. “Like, ‘Hey, I feel this way sometimes — does anybody else? You do? Great.’ ”
Growing up in Portland, Maine, Kendrick’s comedic sensibility was influenced by her father’s gallows Irish humor, which included taking her at age 12 to see Martin McDonagh’s Broadway play The Beauty Queen of Leenane. “We just spent the rest of the night doing quotes from, you know, a funny play about matricide,” she recalls.
At the time, Kendrick was working a few blocks away, starring in the musical High Society and becoming one of the youngest Tony Award nominees ever. She moved to L.A. at 19 and slowly built a career that took off seemingly overnight when she played a pushy consultant in Up in the Air. Her performance was so memorable that she’s had to work hard to keep things fresh. “I actively decided to look for things that were not feisty,” she says of the aftermath. “As recently as this month, I got this script that was, you know, no-nonsense, wearing a business suit, and I was immediately, like, I can’t even bother reading this.”
Despite her stardom, Kendrick shares her home in the Hollywood Dell with roommates, including one she’s had for eight years. Back when they lived in West Hollywood, things were harder — the electricity was turned off, and they were almost evicted.
Recently, she says, “After watching an episode of Hoarders, I was going through my closet and really trying to get rid of stuff.” Kendrick saw black pants and a white button-down she used in the past for catering jobs. “I finally threw them out, like, this month. It was a big step.”