Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow Discuss Making Pitch Perfect

Although Pitch Perfect co-stars Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow appear at home on stage as members of a competitive a cappella group in Universal Pictures’ new musical comedy, they confess that wasn’t always the case.

“I forgot the lyrics to ‘The Good Ship Lollypop’ when I was 5 at a dance recital,” Kendrick (The Twilight Saga, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) told a group of reporters last week. “I decided to sit on stage and cry. I learn my lines now much better.”

Snow (Prom Night, Hairspray) recalled a similar tear-filled experience. “When I was 8 or 9, I was in ‘Pirate of Penzance’ and I had to wear this really long fake wig and I had to come across the stage, tiptoeing,” she said, “and the wig fell off and the boy that I really liked was laughing at me. I cried, too. And I had to sing.”

Directed by Jason Moore, Pitch Perfect follows Kendrick as Beca, who has dreams of becoming a radio DJ but is forced to go to college. There, she joins an all-girls a capella group called The Bellas, which is determined to defeat the reigning Treble Makers in an international competition. Snow plays Chloe, the group’s eager-to-please morale booster.

With their early stage frights now only memories, Kendrick and Snow faced the more specific challenge of mastering the film’s musical mash-up numbers. In one such scene, a Riff-Off between the Bellas and rival Barton groups, Snow faced the odd challenge of not singing during the Bellas’ rendition of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.”

Brittany Snow

“I loved that song from long ago,” she explained. “It’s always been my karaoke song and I was really jealous that Anna got to do the rap part.” Snow and the other Bellas, a group that includes Rebel Wilson, Esther Dean and Anna Camp, found the mood on set that day infectious, but fought the urge to do more than their assigned roles in the song — except for one moment that Snow simply couldn’t resist.

“There’s a part at the very end where [Anna’s character] goes ‘We out!’ and nobody else was supposed to say that, but I was so caught up in the song that I say it, too,” Snow said. During post-production, director Moore called her on that exuberance, but her enthusiasm can be seen briefly in the final cut.

The actresses praised Moore, a first-time director, for his ability to command the complicated production. “It was a huge task to have all the Bellas, all the other a cappella groups who were there, all the extras, and wrangle everybody and make sure they were in sync and focused,” Snow said.

“[He] makes you feel safe singing ‘No Diggity’ in a pool [when you’re] wondering if this is going to come across well,” Kendrick added. “He sees everything from every angle, and he’s a smart enough person and has such amazing taste.”

They said Moore kept his cool, although Kendrick picked up on a telling gesture. “Every now and then, he’d play with the front of his hair and it was like, ‘Okay, Jason’s tripping. Come back! Come on, Captain!’” she recalled with a laugh.

Another challenge Kendrick and Snow faced was keeping their composure during the rehearsal scenes shot toward the end of production. In particular, Kendrick remembered filming a scene in which the girls confess secrets to one another.

Anna Kendrick

“It was like maybe one of the second-to-last days for the girls and it was late and we’re all just sitting around staring at each other and it’s just like … you get too comfortable,” she said. The adrenaline of the performance scenes kept everybody focused and on task, but this scene, itself a pretty funny moment, led to on-set silliness. “Just sitting in a circle with these girls that I’ve gotten to know over three months was jus, ‘I can’t take you guys seriously,’” Kendrick continued.

That sense of camaraderie came in handy while filming the finale, which employs a number of song selections and full choreography. The director had the Bellas perform the whole sequence from start to finish nearly 40 times, creating what Kendrick and Snow believe was the toughest — and best — time on set.

“That was a moment where it really felt like it was just the ten of us supporting each other,” Kendrick said. “It felt like we really had to rely on each other and feed off of each other’s energy in way that is exclusive to theatrical performance.”

The director and producers stood at the back of the auditorium, and the audience was packed with extras, creating a feeling that the finale was a real situation and not simply a movie. “It was a really beautiful thing to look around at these girls and know that they’re my co-workers and my friends and that we’re in it for each other,” Kendrick said. “We’re not thinking about the camera, we’re just trying to be there to support each other.”

Asked if there was something more to the return of musical films, a form that had been dormant at the turn of the century, Kendrick quipped, “[It’s] a government conspiracy. You are all now Manchurian candidates.”

Snow offered a more thoughtful answer. “I think that what’s happening now is a surge of people passionate about musicals. I think it started 10 years ago and it’s getting more and more prevalent,” she said. “People want to go to the movies and watch shows on TV or in theaters that make them feel good and music really does that. It’s not only that you watch something and connect to dialogue, but when you listen to a song, it gives a whole other element of connection.”

“That’s the difference between us in those two answers,” Kendrick added. “I refuse to be sincere and you’re amazing.”

Pitch Perfect opens Friday nationwide. {}

Anna Kendrick On ‘Pitch Perfect,’ Singing Onscreen, And How Being ‘Aggressively Dorky’ Paid Off

Anna Kendrick Pitch Perfect Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (Twilight, Up in the Air) got her start on Broadway — nabbing a Tony nomination at the age of 12, no less — before making her film debut in 2003’s musical Camp. In this week’s infectiously fun college-set comedy Pitch Perfect she comes full circle playing Beca, an antisocial college freshman who reluctantly joins a ragtag campus a capella group as they attempt to pop song-warble their way to the top. Kendrick rang Movieline to discuss the crowd-pleasing Pitch Perfect, her initial resistance to doing a musical, how one afternoon’s worth of YouTube obsessing paid off (and led to one of the neatest performances in the film, and the undeniable power of Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA.”

Beca is an audience surrogate of sorts, a loner entering this strange world of college a cappella from the outside.
She is kind of an audience stand-in, and you get to be kind of repulsed by this aggressively geeky world at the beginning of the movie and then fall in love with it while Beca does. The interesting thing to me about the idea of a character that on paper is supposed to be really “cool” is, when you bring it to life, breaking her down and making her seem less cool, because that’s when I think the audience really connects with her. I don’t think you can just say, “Hey audience, this is a cool character so you’re supposed to like her.” For me, I fall in love with characters when they’re out of their element or are uncomfortable and you really feel for them in a knee-jerk sympathetic way. So I had a lot of fun trying to make Beca less cool. It’s fun to take a girl who fancies herself a little bad-ass and kind of embarrass her.

That is a lesson she learns — that she’s not too cool for a cappella and she really does need these friends in her life.
Yes — she has a secret love of pop music that she pretends to not have, but she lets her freak flag fly.

She’s also probably the first mash-up DJ protagonist we’ve seen in the movies.
To be perfectly honest, I was really nervous about that because I know friends who are into that kind of stuff and I didn’t want to put anything across onscreen that felt inauthentic. By the time we started filming I was like, “But really — when are you guys going to show me how to do this?” And we kind of ran out of time so I kind of refused to have them explicitly show too much of what Beca was doing because I didn’t know what I was doing. So it’s all alluded to but I didn’t want to have any glaring inaccuracies onscreen.

You probably don’t need to worry too much. I have a feeling Pitch Perfect might inspire a generation of kids to look into this whole mash-up business.
I hope so! That would be pretty sweet.

Your career started on Broadway and in the film Camp, so Pitch Perfect brings you full circle back to music. Were you looking for a musically-oriented project?
I wasn’t looking for this, and in fact I remember reading the script and the thing that made me nervous was the musical aspect. It was almost like I wish Kay Cannon could rewrite the script replacing the a cappella with a chess club because I was worried about it being corny. But I fell in love with the script so much because it was so smart and funny and surprising. I was so charmed by it, I was like, “Okay — guess I’m singing in a movie!”

What gave you pause about singing again?
I knew there’d be comparisons to Glee and there are people who just will not accept a musical as a good movie or automatically think it’s corny, so I knew that would be a little bit of a hurdle. And also it’s making yourself vulnerable in another way, putting yourself on screen singing in a completely sincere fashion.

Which is not a problem for a lot of the characters in this movie, these kids who are so, so into a cappella and these competitions. It makes me happy to know this is based on a real community, that there are people like this out there in the world.
When I was like 18 and I had just moved to L.A., a friend of mine had a crush on a guy who was in the UCLA a cappella group and I got dragged to this competition between UCLA and USC, and I thought it was going to be the most excruciating night of my life. By the end of it I was starstruck and thought these guys were the coolest, I wanted to meet them and hang out with them — and this was years ago, so it was an interesting example of how you can think something’s really dorky, like in the documentary Spellbound, but by the end of it you’re so invested.

Do you see many parallels between the world of musical theater that you started out in and the world of a cappella?
I think there are rock stars within every subgenre, and for people who are obsessed with musical theater Sutton Foster and Audra MacDonald are like Beyonce to them. I’m sure the a cappella world has their own version of that, and that exists in every geeky subculture.

Did you audition for Pitch Perfect with a song?
I met Jason like two years ago about it and they did ask me to sing, so I sang that song with the cups [from the film] that I learned from a YouTube video, and they were like, “Oh my god, that’s going in the movie!”

I loved that routine! What inspired you to use that piece?
Well, I had just learned it because I’m aggressively dorky. [Laughs] When they asked me to sing I was like, as it happened, here’s something I wasted an afternoon learning, so I might as well show them.

That’s pretty impressive. It only took one afternoon?
And from a YouTube video it was hard!

The relationship Beca has with her fellow classmate Jesse (Skylar Adkins) is so adorably John Hughesian, but they bond over Beca’s film illiteracy. How has she never seen The Breakfast Club?
Coming from a film world and living in a film bubble it’s so hard for me to believe that anyone in the world says they don’t like movies and they’ve never seen Breakfast Club, so that was the least plausible thing in the movie in my mind. And I hated every second of pretending I wasn’t a huge film nerd.

I mean, I suppose we all have holes in our film viewing history…
Oh, so many! There are definitely movies I’ve never seen. I’ve never seen the original Heartbreak Kid, I’ve never seen Rome, Open City… obviously thousands upon thousands of films that I wish I could see. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day, but I do the best I can.

In a fairly short period of time you’ve taken on a real variety of roles and projects. How much have the roles you’ve sought out and been offered changed over the years?
I think right after Up in the Air everyone wanted me to play the girl from Up in the Air, and it took a little while for people to think of me as an actress from a film that they liked instead of just that character. So it was weird, a little bit of time had to pass before people like [End of Watch director] David Ayer began thinking of me as the kind of softer, sexier wife character or in this, a kind of rebellious tattooed character. So I’m definitely grateful that those opportunities are coming along.

And in The Company You Keep you play an FBI agent, which is pretty mind-blowing that you can play a college freshman and a government agent back to back.
Yeah! I remember Michelle Monaghan one year played like 34 and 19 within a month of each other. I’m just flattered to have the opportunity to play so many different things, that people see me in different ways.

Another upcoming film of yours is Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies… It was one of those tightrope things where it was really amazing and really scary, but I had an amazing time making it. I’m glad I had the chance to do it, really glad I got to challenge myself in that way.

Given that you had that bit of difficulty getting people to see you differently after Up in the Air this is particularly interesting because the cast of Drinking Buddies were allowed to help shape their characters.
I basically based the character on my sister-in-law, which was fun. I don’t know if she’ll think it’s anything like her but that’s what I had in mind.

Lastly, to bring it back to Pitch Perfect one last time, there’s a scene in the film that I see as a depiction of a universal truth: Nobody can resist singing along to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA.” True or false? [Laughs] I think that scene was brilliant because it’s such a painfully corny song that Beca should hate, but it’s a telling moment. Is she going to pretend to be too cool for school, or is she going to go along with it and bond with these girls? I love that she’s willing to embarrass herself out of love for these new friends that she has.

Pitch Perfect is in theaters Friday. {}

Pitch Perfect: Back to School Isn’t Usually This Much Fun

Anna Kendrick is cast against type as a girl too cool for school in director Jason Moore’s Pitch Perfect, a spirited, irreverent and hugely fun comedy set in the competitive world of collegiate a cappella. Beca wears fierce boots, no pastels and multiple earrings in the non-fleshy part of the ear that suggests a high pain threshold and a dedication to projecting a tough image. Her goal is to become a music producer, but her professor father, a fan of academics, has negotiated a deal with her. She spends her freshman year at the college where he teaches and if she doesn’t like it, then he’ll help her move to LA.

The lone condition is, Beca has to join a club at the fictional Barden College, located somewhere in the Southeast. That way dad will know she’s participating in campus life, rather than just enduring it while doing as she pleases, which is mainly mixing music on her laptop. Between this paternal pressure and some peer pressure from a girl who hears her singing in the shower—Kendrick has a very pleasant voice—Beca ends up in an a cappella group called “The Bellas.” Natalie Keener, Anna Kendrick’s character from Up in the Air, would have dug the Bellas, but few others would. They dress like flight attendants, right down to the jaunty scarves, and are run by a snooty prom queen type named Aubrey (Anna Camp, who maybe the Nellie Olesen of the 21st century). Normally the Bellas wouldn’t lower their standards to anyone as “alternative” as Beca, but graduation rates and a mini-scandal have left them desperate for new members. They even take on Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), who calls herself that so that “twig bitches” like Aubrey and her sidekick Chloe (a delightful Brittany Snow) “don’t do it behind my back.”

Beca is adamantly not a joiner, but Pitch Perfect is a tale of conversion, of rigid people on both sides of the fence—that is, traditional and alternative—loosening up and coming together for the sake of…musical victory. The Bellas want to win the national championship of a cappella. That’s really what it’s about. Yes, there’s some business about friendship, but that shimmies into the plot too late to take seriously. Especially since the movie has been so resolutely raunchy (vomit has never been used so extensively) and politically incorrect. Screenwriter Kay Cannon, who adapted Mickey Rapkin’s nonfiction book about a cappella competitions, makes everyone a target: Germans, lesbians, magicians and especially Asian Americans, represented by Beca’s unfriendly, anal roommate and a hilariously soft spoken member of the Bellas (Hana Mae Lee). Unlike television’s Glee, which it does bear comparison to, Pitch Perfect is free of earnestness and messages of social responsibility. You leave it wanting to sing and dance. I’m not sure of the individual talents of the performers, but the point is the way they sound collectively, harmonizing, whether on stage or in a friendly a cappella-off on a Saturday night on campus, which is never less than delightful.

There’s a love interest for Beca, Jesse (Skylar Astin), who also sings and dances but in the Treblemakers, a much hipper, boy version of the Bellas. Jess is appealing in a refreshingly nice guy kind of way, not alpha, kind and warm. There’s a sense of decency about his attraction to Beca; he’s a little bit Andy Hardy and Pitch Perfect is at its core an old fashioned let’s-put-on-a-show story. That’s echoed by the sense of the movie as something spontaneously but smartly thrown together by born performers. Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse shows up to lead the auditions for Barden’s four a cappella teams, shot montage-style. Otherwise, Mintz-Plasse has no scenes, suggesting he was doing a favor for someone by showing up on set for a day. Ditto for Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, who play Gail and John, the Christopher Guest-style deadly serious commentators following the competition, and nearly steal the show without interacting with anyone but each other (Banks produced, so technically she was doing herself a favor).

Under Beca’s influence the rebooted Bellas slowly creep toward breaking their ladylike traditions (like Glee‘s Mr. Schuester, Aubrey favors old-school hits, not quite at the “Going to the Chapel” level, but their version of Ace of Base’s “The Sign” is very staid), incorporating hybrids of older hits and contemporary music. They do great things with a remix of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” and even let Fat Amy be front and center. If you saw Bridesmaids or Bachelorette, you know what to expect from Wilson; if not, try to keep up; the woman is a comic savant. She’s so cheerily impish that even when it’s not entirely clear what she’s saying—which is often, between a tendency to mumble and her Aussie accent—she gets a laugh. There’s a running joke involving the first two syllables of “a cappella” being folded into other phrases—Aubrey favors “aca’scuse me”—and it’s the kind of thing that could get old very fast. But Wilson, chiming in with a wry “aca-ward” and “aca-believe it,” has such great delivery that allows the joke to soar when it could so easily flail. Her timing is, please forgive me, aca’wesome.

So is Kendrick’s. She has a history of providing snappy comic relief in supporting roles, starting with her mean girl turn way back when in her film debut in 2003’s Camp, another movie involving singing and dancing (skills she’d honed on Broadway as a tween). She brought a very specific hard edge to perkiness in Up in the Air, a performance that netted her an Oscar nomination at a time when she was mostly known for her role as Bella’s funny friend in the Twilight franchise. She was so convincing as the chilly little efficiency expert Natalie that in 2009 it would have been considered a leap for her to play someone as sexy and cool as Beca, who can rap and deck a guy. But she’s been working her way to this kind of stardom, from 50/50, where she showed a softer side, and even the dreadful What to Expect When You’re Expecting, where she had the most thankless role but still brought a little zip to it. In her other fall release, End of Watch, she’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s dream girl. Kendrick is one to watch; there may be no limit to her versatility. {}

Anna Kendrick fits perfectly in a cappella movie ‘Pitch Perfect’

Anna Kendrick is a bit tired. She’s been doing interviews most of the day for her new film, “Pitch Perfect,” a fun, funny musical riff on the crazy world of college a cappella groups. Yes, the same ones that were featured in the now canceled NBC show “The Sing-Off,” which had as judges Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles, who had been in an a cappella group at UCLA.

Coincidentally, Kendrick, 27, just did a music video for Folds’ new album, which also featured the characters from “Fraggle Rock.”

“I’m a fan of Ben Folds and I’m a fan of the Fraggles; so it was really a dream job that it fell in my lap,” she says. “I grew up watching `Muppet Family Christmas,’ which had the Muppets, the Fraggles and the characters from Sesame Street.”

Folds had gotten interested in college a cappella groups when he discovered YouTube videos of them singing his songs. Kendrick, who received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of George Clooney’s character’s feisty co-worker in “Up in the Air,” says she first learned about them when she moved to Los Angeles.

“I was 18 or 19 and I had a friend who had a crush on a guy who was either in the USC or UCLA a cappella group and she dragged me along to a competition between the schools,” Kendrick remembers. “I thought it would be the most painful experience of my life. But by the end of the evening I was thinking these people are rock stars. So even if it is a sort of a dorky sort of subgenre of performance, they are stars within their own little world,” she says.

Kendrick admits to coming from her own “dorky little world” – Broadway, where she was the second-youngest Tony nominee ever for her role in the 1998 musical “High Society” and appeared in the New York City Opera production of “A Little Night Music” with Jeremy Irons in 2003.

Her career might be seen as sort of unexpected. Her father was a teacher and mother an accountant in Maine when Kendrick got the performing bug at age 5. She says her parents didn’t know anything about getting her into show business but were willing to help her, and by age 10 she was auditioning in New York City.

Broadway is, of course, bigger than the college a cappella world, but it’s not as big as film or television. Kendrick points out that people like Sutton Foster and Audra McDonald – who have respectable TV and film careers – are like the musical theater’s version of Beyonce.

“I think the a cappella world has its own Beyonces,” Kendrick says.

One of them could well be her character in “Pitch Perfect,” which is the first feature film from stage director Jason Moore (“Avenue Q”). Kendrick plays Beca, a sort of too hip for her own good university freshman who is recruited for an all-female a cappella group named the Bellas. It’s run by an uptight Aubrey (Anna Camp) and her looser pal Chloe (Brittany Snow), who discovers Beca’s singing talents when she confronts her in the shower.

The film is based on the nonfiction book “Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory” by Mickey Rapkin. One of its producers is actress Elizabeth Banks, who plays a caustic commentator – a la “Best in Show” – at the competitions.

“The character of Beca needed to be someone who was grounded … funny and empathetic and who we all can relate to and root for,” Banks says. “Anna is all of those things.”

Kendrick also can be seen in a very different role opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the gritty cop drama “End of Watch,” which opened last week. The New York Times review called her “sexily cast against type.” “I have no idea how to take that, but I’ll take it. I guess,” Kendrick says.

The actress says filming “Pitch Perfect” proved hard work. That was partly because the songs in the film kept changing. And though the dancing was a little out of her comfort zone, she says, “The other girls really inspired me to work hard. It was great to have everybody’s energy.”

She also insisted that whenever she was singing on her own in the movie that it was live. Ensemble pieces, though, were another matter. “Too many moving pieces,” she says.

One of the songs she does as part of a riff-off – an impromptu competition between groups – is “No Diggity,” originally by Blackstreet with a rap by Dr. Dre.

“I really love that song,” she says. “It was fun, but at the same time I had never done the rap before. When I used to listen to it in my car or wherever, I used to wait for the melody to start and then I would start singing along to it. So doing the rap was – a little humiliating but funny.”

Kendrick says her character is someone who thinks she’s really cool and secretly isn’t.

“She thinks she’s above these dorky a cappella girls,” the actress says. “So I liked those situations where she was kind of embarrassed and out of her element.”

Does she have anything in common with Beca?

“Well, I know that I’m not cool,” she says with a smile. “So that’s pretty easy.” {}

‘Pitch Perfect’s’ Anna Kendrick had a busy 2011 making seven films

ANNA KENDRICK has been a very busy woman.

This year she’s been pregnant in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” she was the voice of Nora in “Family Guy” and the voice of Courtney in “ParaNorman.” She played Jake Gyllenhaal’s wife in “End of Watch,” and in “Pitch Perfect,” she’s a college freshman who wants to be a mash-up music producer but begrudgingly joins an a cappella singing group.

Oh, she also has four films in the can awaiting release.

“I filmed seven movies in 2011 and I think that was a mistake,” she said by phone from New York this week. “I pushed myself too hard and I want to be able to come to work each day and give 100 percent. I guess I found out what my boundaries are.”

Kendrick said she won’t undertake a schedule like that again, but . . . “If there are seven [great] opportunities in one year, it’s hard to say no and not want to push yourself.”

As for going back to college after a number of more adult roles (she memorably played a corporate downsizer in 2009’s “Up in the Air” and a psychologist in 2011’s “50/50”), she said, “I guess as long as people think of me for different ages, I’ll trust their opinion. I remember noticing one year that Michelle Monaghan played 34 and 19, so I’ve kind of clung to that as my justification that I can be Jake Gyllenhaal’s wife and a freshman in college in the same year.

“Just today at the airport somebody asked me if I was traveling with a guardian.

“Yeah, I wish that was a joke.”

Kendrick, who sang on Broadway and on screen in the underrated “Camp,” would seem to be a natural for a comedy/musical like “Pitch Perfect,” but, she said, “the music isn’t what drew me in at all.”

“If anything, the singing element was a deterrent, because you’re just making yourself more vulnerable. Although I’ve sung on screen before, I haven’t done it as the face of a studio movie and it would have been a lot easier if the script were terrible. But every page by Kay Cannon, our writer, just blew me away. So I was willing to deal with the fact that people were going to be asking me for the next year, ‘Oh, is it like ‘Glee’?’

“I almost wished that we could replace a cappella with chess or something equally dorky, because I knew that the singing part was going to be an added stress.”

Kendrick said the lead actresses got about a month of rehearsal – “choreography and music and trying to make guitar sounds with your mouth.” {}

Kendrick comes calling

Anna Kendrick looks even smaller than usual sitting at a conference table in a hotel boardroom with a fluffy white bathrobe over her clothes. “I was freezing,” she apologizes. The air conditioning finally got the best of her.

Kendrick’s at the Toronto Film Festival with End Of Watch, the latest testosterone thriller from writer/director David Ayer. As the girlfriend of Jake Gyllenhaal’s film student cop, Kendrick’s intelligence and warmth serve as counterbalance to the swaggering and posturing of his hours on the job.

The movie was conceived as a project being shot and edited by Gyllenhaal’s character, which meant Ayer could position cameras in all sorts of unlikely places.

“You never really knew where the camera was,” Kendrick says. “There are cameras everywhere. Some of the actors were using hand-held cameras, and then there were some more traditional camera operators working, and when those were reloading Jake or Michael [Peña] would pick up a camera and film something. There wasn’t a second of the day where we weren’t putting something on film. It feels like you’re doing theatre in the round. You’re just so present, and forced to be in this world and in this character. So improv bled into scripted dialogue, and vice versa.”

Kendrick says the shoot made her feel like more of a collaborator in the filmmaking process than usual.

“A lot of people feel as though it’s a detriment to their art to ever be thinking about the camera – where the lens is, what the composition is,” she says. “Some people don’t think that that’s very pure, but I love that. In movies like Sullivan’s Travels or, you know, His Girl Friday, those women were very aware of the camera and think of themselves as though they’re posing for portraits in some way. I don’t think that’s a negative thing; they understood composition.”

Kendrick’s Oscar nomination for Up In The Air and her role in the Twilight saga raised her profile considerably higher than she’d ever imagined. Perhaps as a corrective, she’s spent most of her time since then avoiding big studio pictures and building a resumé as a character actor, turning up as Michael Cera’s sister in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s untested therapist in 50/50, and an FBI agent in Robert Redford’s TIFF 2012 entry The Company You Keep.

But she’s playing a far larger role in the glee club comedy Pitch Perfect, which opens next week. Kendrick says she couldn’t resist the screenplay by 30 Rock writer/producer Kay Cannon.

“It’s that voice that I loved,” she says. “Part of me was really hesitant about doing it – it’s a tricky thing to get right. But when I’d reread the script, you know, just her voice and her humour was the thing that made me go, ‘This is really special {}

Q&A: Anna Kendrick on ‘End of Watch,’ Bald Heads & Scruffy Beards

Over the span of her relatively young career, Anna Kendrick’s been known as a few things in pigeonhole-happy Hollywood: the musically talented, Tony award nominee who crossed over to movies with “Camp”; the Oscar nominee who held her own against George Clooney in “Up in the Air”; the coolest cast member in the “Twilight” series.

And that’s exactly how she likes it.

The funny and charismatic 27-year-old doesn’t want to play the same role twice; it’s why the Anna Kendrick you see in “End of Watch,” where she plays the laid-back girlfriend to Jake Gyllenhaal’s cliché-busting, bald-headed LAPD officer, won’t seem anything like the Anna Kendrick you saw in last year’s “50/50” or next week’s “Pitch Perfect.”

Kendrick told us all about her new role in “Watch” and how her Oscar nomination for “Air” put her strategy of choosing diverse roles to the test.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick in End of Watch

Most times when we see LAPD in movies, they’re usually portrayed as …  d-bags.
I was just going to say douchebag, that is so weird! But I was like, keep it classy.

These guys played by Jake and [his partner/BFF] Michael Pena actually seem to pretty cool. Or like regular guys, at least.
Yeah, I think it’s a good balance … A lot of people have come out of it and talked about how it’s nice to finally see cops portrayed in a positive light. I think there are plenty of times in the movie where you are definitely on their side and you definitely root for them, but there are moments where you as an audience member are thinking, like, guys I’m not sure that that’s the right judgment call.  And you forgive them because they are human and I think that’s the most important thing.

It doesn’t portray them as villains and it doesn’t portray them as supermen. They are human beings and their hearts are in the right places but they make some maybe questionable decisions. But I’m sure those are the things that keep them up at night, too.

Could you ever see yourself dating a cop in real life?
I don’t know, man. I worry over people who have the most boring jobs in the world, so I can’t imagine how strong you have to be to do that.

Jake Gyllenhaal is great in this movie. He’s also got a great bald head. Did you touch his head a lot?
I touched his head a lot. There is this scene at the end of the movie where I found myself touching his head a lot. I was like what is happening, why am I doing that? I like to see him all hairy again, it looks like a completely different person, but I like him scruffy.

Yeah, what is it about bald heads that makes them so touchable?
I don’t know. I was doing it in that one scene but actually when I saw him at the premiere, the first thing I did was scratch his beard. I think I am more of a beard girl myself.

You and Jake rap Cam’ron’s “Hey Ma” in this movie, and it’s one of the most memorable moments.
We were doing this road trip to Vegas and [writer-director David Ayers] was just [occasionally] filming. We spent five hours in the car so there were plenty of times when it was just the three of us talking. Then that song came on Jake’s iPod and we just started singing and David very stealthily brought out his camera … It’s not like he asked us to play that song again and do it again, it just happened, he filmed it, and now it’s in the movie. And luckily they could clear that song. The music supervisor was sweating it for a second.

You also rap in your other new movie this month, “Pitch Perfect.” Considering a side career in hip-hop?
Yeah, I could see myself going that way.

So what are you jamming out to these days?
I mean it’s funny because it’s not really my wheelhouse, obviously, but I do get down to some Nicki Minaj and some Azaelia Banks.  I definitely like a catchy hip-hop tune.

How did earning an Oscar nomination affect your career?
I don’t know, how do you think it affected my career?

I’d imagine it’s lead to some better scripts and better offers.
I mean I think a good script is a rare thing, and I think no matter who you are you have to fight for the good ones. It’s a hard question to answer partially because, and I have been warned about this, that after you do a part that people really like, whenever somebody has a part just like that in a movie, they are like, ‘We should get that girl who already did that to do it in our movie.’ That was a weird time because they were good scripts but I was like, ‘I just did this, why would I do this again? So that people can turn around and be like, oh she only does that one thing?’

Weirdly a little bit of distance and time going by after the Oscars actually helped people to just kind of send me a variety of things because they just thought of me as an actress they remembered liking and not as that girl that did that one thing. Weirdly like a year later things got a lot more interesting than the year following the Oscars. I wish there was a concise way to answer that question. {}

IAR Press Conference Coverage: ‘Pitch Perfect’

In bygone eras, a cappella singing may have been the province of the hopelessly square, those unfortunate and lovely souls whose sweater vests and high pants betrayed an utter lack of cool. Even a cursory glance at contemporary pop-culture provides a look at an apparently insatiable American hunger to hear familiar pop songs redone in infectious styles, and a cappella is about to benefit from that hunger in a major way.

On Friday, September 28th, Pitch Perfect hits select theaters before expanding nationwide on October 5th. The new musical comedy aims to prove that a capella need no longer be associated exclusively with nerdlingers singing fuzzy old standards. Instead, the film, written by 30 Rock’s Kay Cannon and directed by Jason Moore, features mashups aplenty and songs including “No Diggity,” “Party in the U.S.A.,” and “Let’s Talk About Sex.”

Anna Kendrick (Up In the Air) stars as Beca, a college freshman who would much rather be in Los Angeles pursuing her dream of becoming a DJ. When seniors Chloe and Aubrey, played by Brittany Snow (The Vicious Kind) and Anna Camp (True Blood) recruit Beca for the all-female a cappella team The Bellas, she finds herself composing innovative mashups, expressing herself in entirely new way, and possibly falling for a member of The Bellas’ rival all-male a cappella group The Treblemakers.

IAR was on hand for the Los Angeles press day promoting Pitch Perfect, where Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, and Rebel Wilson discussed their musical backgrounds, the often arduous process of singing on camera, improvising, working with Jason Moore, and the current music climate.

Though she leads the cast and has been praised for her vocal abilities, the Oscar nominated Kendrick had the smallest amount of musical experience, recalling with a laugh, “I forgot the lyrics to the ‘Good Ship Lollipop’ when I was five at a dance recital and I decided to sit on stage and cry and then I went off stage. And that was scarring and that’s the end of that story.”

Snow, meanwhile, had a bit more singing in her past, but was still more less a stranger to the dark arts of a cappella. “I guess I was like eight or nine, I was in Pirates of Penzance,” she said. “And I had to wear this like really long big wig and I had to like come across the stage, tip-toeing and the wig fell off and so, and the boy that I really liked was laughing at me and yea, I cried too. And then, I had to sing and so I couldn’t really sing. But like, I think later on in musical theater, I’m not really sure of anything crazy happened. Just kid stuff. Just kid stuff.”

“I was actually part of an a cappella group,” Wilson revealed. “It was called Twelve Voice because there were twelve girls in it. I was like, ‘Yeah, how original.’ And I went to a Christian school and so we’d sing church songs at people’s weddings and funerals and stuff. And they were kind of really pretty, but we’d have to wear like these peasant gloves and these disgusting velvet long skirts, we were just fifteen year-old girls and we’d have to stand like this, kind of like what we do in the movie in the Ace of Base song, and we’d just be belting out these songs in the churches. At least it was good for singing! You got good practice, and I was an alto in that group which is and in the movie, I’m playing alto as well, which is good.”

Despite directing many episodes of popular television series and the irreverent, Sesame Street-inspired musical Avenue Q, Jason Moore makes his feature directorial debut with Pitch Perfect. According to Snow, however, his experience made him was well-suited for the material, as she said, “It was a huge task to have, you know, all the Bellas, all the Treblemakers, all of the other a cappella groups that were there, extras and like wrangle every body and make sure that everybody was, you know, in sync and was focused. And there were times that I was looking around and I was like, ‘I can’t believe that he’s doing this.’ Because it was a huge production, it was basically a Broadway play that was happening every day, for, you know, two months. So, I was really amazed how well he handled things and was completely calm throughout. I don’t think he ever even had a freak out.”

“Jason is amazing,” Kendrick agreed. “He’s really smart. He’s really on it, you know. I think he sees everything from every angle and, you know, he’s, he’s a smart enough person and has such amazing taste that, you know, it feels like that’s the guy that makes you feel safe when you’re in a pool singing “No Diggity,” wondering, like, ‘Is this going to come across well, or am I just going to come across like this tiny white girl singing “No Diggity” and is it going to be a disaster?’ So, he was a great guy to have as like the captain of the ship.”

A native Australian, Wilson initially intended to use an American accent in the film, but Moore encouraged her to stick with her genuine inflection. Wilson explained, “What happened is that because we had the four weeks of rehearsals and usually if I’m doing an accent in a movie I’ll keep the accent and the character the whole time. But because we were doing like nine am to six pm rehearsals every day, I just couldn’t keep it up. It was too exhausting so I started talking like this how I am now and Jason Moore heard me and he’s like – because I didn’t even know whether he knew I was Australian at first and then he heard me talking like this – and he’s like, ‘You’ve got to use that voice in the movie! You’ve got to!’ And I’m like, ‘No I want to be an actor and do acting, I don’t want to use my real voice.’ And he’s like, ‘Trust me, it’ll be great.'”

Special attention is being paid to Wilson’s performance as Fat Amy, a moniker the character gives herself so that “twig bitches” won’t use it behind it her back. The actress’s style is heavily improvisational, resulting in many a casual one-liner making the final cut, as she said, “My style is to see what’s she’s got on the page and take that as a starting point and then just go ‘la la la la la’ for as long as Jason will let me and also because I’m partnered with Adam DeVine and he’s a really great improviser as well.”

Her tendency towards improvisation caused some issues. One shot in which she drops into a wild, oddly The Little Mermaid-inspired dance was funny enough to end up in the film, but its inclusion in the film caused some issues. “That cost them a lot of money because they didn’t know, obviously, I was going go on the ground and start dancing,” she explained. “So in the original shot they had the tape because when you’re filming and you have the tape marks, they’re usually like fluorescent tape, they were all over the concrete, so they didn’t know and so I went down and did dancing and Jason wanted to use it in the movie, but with all these tapes so they had to digital effect the tape out of the shot to be able to use it. I think it cost them like thousands and thousands of dollars just to use that joke.”

With a game cast, a script from a proven comedy force, and the ability to improvise when appropriate, some scenes could be difficult to complete without laughing, as Kendrick recalled, “I think the scene where we’re all kind of confessing stuff was hard, you know. It was towards the end of the shoot, it was like maybe one of the second to last days for the girls and it was late and like we’re all just sitting around staring at each other and it’s just like, you get too relaxed. It’s like you get too comfortable, like in a scene like the riff-off, there’s kind of so much at stake and so many moving parts that parts of your brain is working overtime. And I think just sitting in a circle with these girls that I had gotten to know over three months, was it’s just like, ‘I can’t take you guys seriously.'”

The most technically challenging sequence, however, was the climactic scene. “The finale number was both the most challenging and the most fun,” Kendrick said. “I think, that was a moment, where it really felt like it was just the ten of us supporting each other and, you know, the crew was there, but they weren’t really close to us and the audience was full of people. And Jason and Elizabeth and Max and everybody are in the back of the theater and it felt like we really had to rely on each other and support each other and feed off of each others’ energy in a way that I think is exclusive to theatrical performance. So, I thought that was a really beautiful thing to look around at all these girls and, you know, know that they’re my co-workers and my friends and that we’re kind of in it for each other, you know, we’re not really thinking about the cameras, it’s like, we’re just trying to be there to support each other.”

“My favorite scene was probably the finale,” Wilson agreed. “Which was super tough because I think that routine, it’s about three and half minutes, four minutes and we always thought, ‘Oh, when you film movie musicals you don’t do the full number throughout. Jason will cut it up into different shots.’ But he made us do that number full out I think about forty times and after each [version] because we were giving it every single take because there was a real crowd there so didn’t want to bore them. So we were really giving it every single day and singing along. But it was just so much fun and we were all working so well together, all the girls, and the crowd was loving it.”

The time for Pitch Perfect is right, as any number of upcoming theatrical musicals and the popular of television shows such as Glee prove the current appetite for musicality on film is indeed a hearty one. Just why have musically-inclined movies and series been enjoying a resurgence in popularity? “I think that what’s happening now, is there’s been like a surge of people really interested in and passionate about musicals,” Snow said. “I think it started, you know, ten years ago and then now it’s getting more and more prevalent and I think that people want to go to the movies and watch shows on TV or in theaters that make them feel good. And music really does that. Not only can you watch something and connect to dialogue, but when you listen to a song, it gives a whole other element of connection and you get that feeling like you want to, you know, stand up and dance and sing and I think that people need that and want that to watch that.”

She continued, “And I think that with these musicals that are out and the shows that are out, I think that people are just getting further and further into what’s really out there musically. A cappella’s been around for a really long time, but I think now, people are like, ‘Oh wow, that’s out there and that is actually, you know, people who are very talented and it actually makes you feel really good when you listen to it. And I think it’s just time and people are discovering this and people are enjoying it, so I’m grateful, because we get to sing and dance.”

Pitch Perfect hits select theaters on Friday, September 28th before expanding into wide release on October 5th. {}