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Quick Interview: Scott Pilgrim’s Michael Cera & Anna Kendrick
In a crowded summer movie season several movies are putting their best foot forward to get your attention and have you part with your money. The last few months have seen many disappointments in what is one of the worst summers ever. But as the season winds down, one of this year’s dark horses has finally emerged – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Based on Brian Lee O’Malley’s comics, Scott Pilgrim is a totally different kind of superhero movie, relying on wit and nostalgia instead of explosions and secret lairs. Our own Marco caught up with two of the stars of the movie – Michael Cera and Anna Kendrick – for a quick interview.
The following is a brief conversation Michael and Anna had with FirstShowing’s Marco Cerritos while in San Francisco discussing the intense experience of bringing the comic book to life in a hyper-realistic way.
You’re obviously doing all these interviews back-to-back. Is that something you can get used to?
Cera: I think it gets easier. Having people ask you the same questions gets easier.
Kendrick: I have to say I like doing it with Michael, doing it alone is taxing. It’s a sad, lonely, dark place.
How familiar were you with the source material prior to the movie?
Cera: I’d never read comics but I had read this one for some reason. A friend of mine was describing it to me one day and it sounded really good so I went and got it. The first two volumes had been out and I loved them. And I’m from Toronto.
Kendrick: Not me. I’m a loser.
There’s always the question of how likeable or unlikeable the character of Scott Pilgrim is. What kinds of discussions did you have with Edgar Wright prior to shooting to find the right balance for the character?
Cera: Nothing that I was involved in, but I’m sure Edgar was involved in that a lot. I was surprised when I saw the movie how heartless he is at certain times.
Kendrick: But I feel like he’s that way in the books. I just read Vol. 6 and he’s definitely the hero of his own story but that’s what makes you relate to him.
How was your working relationship with Edgar Wright?
Cera: Really amazing. It was different from anything I had ever done. It was a different actor-director relationship as far as what he was asking of people, because he knew what he wanted and knew exactly what he was making. But at the same time I always felt like I had ownership of the character. His choices in shot design and look of the film works really well.
How much did Edgar present to you visually before the shoot began, since there are a lot of effects-heavy shots and stunt work?
Cera: He showed us a lot, every test that he did.
Kendrick: He certainly wasn’t trying to keep us in the dark even though some directors do that which I think is strange.
Cera: And that made total sense because the more he showed us the more we knew what we were making which was very helpful. For example, we would be shooting for a few weeks and he’d show us some cut footage which gave us a good sense of tone for the comedy.
How physically demanding was the role and were you excited to kick some ass?
Cera: I was excited and it was physically demanding because we did training so we could do basic things so we wouldn’t get sick. If we hadn’t done that I think it would’ve been disastrous. Moving your body that much take after take is exhausting even if you’re just doing basic moves.
When you’re on set what kinds of things do you look for in a director to make you feel more comfortable as an actor?
Kendrick: Honestly, I feel there’s no good way to put this because it’s so obvious, but it’s just the feeling that someone gives a shit. It’s the only thing I ask for and the only time I clam up is when I don’t get that.
Cera: That’s a good way to put it, someone that has your back. And also it’s very comforting for me that someone knows what they’re doing and what kind of movie they’re making. You don’t have to worry about doing something that isn’t going to work because they care so much that they would never let that happen.
What directors fall into those categories?
Kendrick: I’ve been lucky. Most, most, most, most directors. That’s all I’m saying. Everyone except that one director.
Anna, what draws you to certain roles because you seem to have movies like Up in the Air in one corner and the Twilight series in the other.
Kendrick: I don’t have a strategy. If I knew how to do that I’d be a super-agent instead of doing this. The movie I just finished, I wanted to play someone really soft and vulnerable because I was coming off Up in the Air and had no idea what I was doing. I was at awards shows and felt really lost so it was good to play someone who was really lost.
Then how did the experience of playing this character match up for you?
Kendrick: I don’t want to say challenging, but it was tricky. I hope the audience doesn’t see this but whenever I watch it all I see is me counting in my head. I feel like I’m the girl on the dance floor going one, two, three, one, two, three.
How do you feel about the audience reaction to the film especially at Comic-Con?
Cera: That was overwhelmingly positive, all the screenings and events were fun. It felt like playing a rock concert. I think we’re a bit spoiled by that because now every time we see it if they’re not cheering it’s going to seem dead.
How different or similar was shooting this film to your previous work?
Cera: There was a lot of blue screen stuff, I hadn’t done that before. Wire-work, there was a lot of that too.
Anna, do you wish you had done some of the more physical stuff, too?
Kendrick: Since it’s over I can safely say yes, but I’m pretty lazy.
Is there one question that keeps coming up you wish would go away? I’m guessing it’s “Arrested Development” stuff for you, Michael.
Cera: I don’t mind it so much. But when people say “What’s going on? Michael what’s going on?” I get really tired of that.
The opposite of that is what question do you think people should ask but they never do?
Cera: I can’t think of a question I want to be asked. I’m sure there’s a good one.
Kendrick: I’m done talking about George Clooney and Robert Pattinson. That’s all. I’m done. I’ve said all there is to say.
Rope of Silicon – INTERVIEW: Edgar Wright, Michael Cera and Anna Kendrick Talk ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’
Have you read the Variety review where Peter Debruge insinuates there’s a 25-year-old cutoff for this film and anyone over that age isn’t going to be into it.
Anna Kendrick (AK): My mom’s 60 and she fucking loved it.
We’re in our 30s and loved it.
EW: I’m 36.
And you didn’t like it from what I understand.
EW: That’s the irony of it. I directed the whole film, but watching it thought, “Eh, it’s not for me.”
Michael Cera (MC): I’m not the target demographic.
Do you see that breaking off point? I’m in my 30s and grew up part of the Nintendo generation, which has an obvious influence on the style, look and feel of this film and I loved it. Then she [pointing at Anna] says her mother loved it, and it –
AK: She says? She says? My mom did love it.
You’re mom’s got a bias though… I didn’t want to bring it up…
[Everyone is laughing at this point]
So Bryan O’Malley gave you ten characteristics about each character and Anna, yours is actually based on his sister.
AK: Yeah, I didn’t get a list but I met Stacey in real life.
EW: You got the human list.
AK: Yeah, I got the human experience. It was cool. She actually worked at Second Cup, which I do in the movie, and she gave me her name tag to wear in the movie. So the “Stacey” name tag is actually her name tag.
Did you do any barista method acting? Did you go work at a Starbucks for a year or anything like that?
EW: Like Daniel Day-Lewis. [Laughing]
AK: No, but … In Canada… I’m such an idiot. I didn’t even know Second Cup was a real place. I just knew it from reading the books. I went to rehearsals and in our hotel was a Second Cup, and I was like, “Oh my god! This is the Second Cup! I found it. I didn’t even know it was real!” I was asking for coffee, and I tasted it and I was like, “This is really great!” And it’s like Starbucks over there. It’s like going into a Starbucks and going, “Oh my god, I didn’t even know this place was real.” And I was like, “This is really good coffee you guys!” Ugh!
Well it’s like I always say, Canada only exists in our mind anyway. So you’re kind of off the hook with that.
MC: That’s kind of the comment that the film makes. In a roundabout way.
EW: We’re planning on going into the theater showing Inception and splice Scott Pilgrim vs. the World onto the end of it so it seems like the final dream.
MC: I thought you were saying Splice was going to be in it? The film Splice.
EW: It’s a triple-feature with Splice in the middle…
The fake trailer for Don’t directed by Edgar Wright as one of the trailers included in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse
Or Don’t right in the middle…
EW: [Laughing] Oh my god. You just come up with the craziest triple-bill of all-time.
Michael Cera and Anna Kendrick in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Anna, do you look at 2010 and say “This is a joke that I’m not getting an Oscar Nomination” or do you expect one for Scott Pilgrim too? I mean, you were pretty supporting here.
AK: The weird thing is I met Edgar for the first time before I even knew what Up in the Air was and before I shot the first Twilight film. And somebody, a journalist at a roundtable, said to me “Oh, you must have done this before Up in the Air and Twilight because you wouldn’t have done it otherwise.” But I absolutely would have done it otherwise.
Journalists are the worst.
AK: Yeah, like what is wrong with you guys? I don’t know, she was being kind of snarky or whatever. I’m sort of floored by everyone else’s performance here, and envious in the sweetest way that I can think of in terms of how well everybody does in the movie. I’m just really happy to be grouped in with these people. These actors might not be people that my mom and dad know, but I’ve known who Alison Pill and Mark Webber are for years. It’s such a seasoned and professional cast, especially for a young cast.
EW: That’s what’s funny to me, people saying “All these new young faces” and I’m thinking most of these people have been working for ten years even if they’re twenty.
The thing that was great about making this film was creating this universe, and so much of that is the casting. I couldn’t ask for a more amazing ensemble. One of the things that’s great about the books is you get a great sense of a Greek chorus in Scott’s life, all the people trying to advise him. So it was amazing having a killer ensemble of comic actors even before you get to the seven exes. I really wanted to create world and to have Anna and Allison and Kieran Culkin in supporting roles is amazing.
Edgar, what’s up next for you? Is Them still on your slate?
EW: I think Them might be on the backburner, I’m not really sure what’s happening with that one. But just to clarify that’s not a remake of the ants film it’s an adaptation of the Jon Ronson book.
MC: Is [Them] a filmic version of the TV show Totally Hidden Extreme Magic?
EW: [Laughs] I’ve never even heard of that show!
MC: It’s on the SyFy Channel.
EW: I’m going to say “yes.”
MC: It was a great show. A great show.
AK: Can we make that movie?
EW: You’ve got the exclusive now, the three of us are making a big screen adaptation of Totally Hidden Extreme Magic.
And Anna, you’ve just completed a cancer comedy, right?
AK: Yeah, we finished what is now an untitled film (tentatively titled Live With It) that I think is going to be pretty good. Look at that!
You obviously did that one for a paycheck.
AK: Awww, man! I wish.
And Michael, you’re replacing Robert Pattinson in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, correct?
MC: I think so, yeah. But I’m going to change my character’s name to Edgar so there will be a “Team Edgar.”
J 14: Exclusive Q&A With Anna Kendrick
Anna Kendrick stars in Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World alongside Michael Cera in theaters today! The movie is based off of the Scott Pilgrim comic books, and with stars like Anna and Michael it’s sure to be hilarious! J-14 caught up with Anna to find out more about the movie and what’s next for her.
J-14: Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World has tons of great action scenes in it. Are you involved in any of them?
Anna Kendrick: I was sitting in the background of an action scene once. But unfortunately I don’t get to do any fighting. But the training was really intense, and I was shooting Up in the Air and New Moon and you know kind of Eclipse right afterwards, so I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I had to do the fight training. So I’m kind of grateful that it just worked out that way.
J-14: Do you relate to Stacey, your character in the film?
Anna: I mean I am definitely a snarky little sister and I tell my older brother what to do all the time. So his line is that I have been preparing for this role my entire life. Stacy is a little sister who thinks of herself as the older sister and I guess I feel the same way.
J-14: Stacey helps her brother Scott fight off his exes. Have you ever dealt with ex drama in your own life?
Anna: I end up being friends with my ex-boyfriends and then realizing that they are way better friends than they were boyfriends or I was a girlfriend.
J-14: You have become great friends with your Twilight Saga castmates. Do you turn to each through all the craziness?
Anna: Yeah, I mean there are certain cast members who are dealing with a lot more than others and I don’t pretend to completely understand what you know Kristen [Stewart] is going through or Rob [Pattinson] is going through, or Taylor [Lautner] is going through. But I’m really glad that we kind of go back and shoot these movies because we all have each other to lean on. I guess I don’t necessarily include myself in that equation but I think it’s a good supportive group of people.
J-14: What’s next for you? Breaking Dawn?
Anna: Oh absolutely, yeah. I mean, I don’t have a script so I don’t know if I’m in them, but obviously I have been there from the beginning and would love to do it, but I’m just waiting to find out.
You can view all press in the newly updated 2010 PRESS ARCHIVES.