Press Update

Anna Kendrick – The tiny actor with big dreams

After a good career so far, Twilight’s Anna Kendrick is about to hit the big time with five high-profile roles coming to cinemas soon. But it’s her mum who’s really excited, she tells Gill Pringle

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart may have hogged the headlines of late. Yet, remarkably, it’s another Twilight star who is enjoying a red-hot career right now, winning a slew of high-profile roles that her better-known co-stars would probably suck blood for.

Not that Anna Kendrick is bragging about her success, even blushing slightly at the mention of the Oscar nod for her performance opposite George Clooney in 2009’s Up In The Air, and her upcoming roles in Robert Redford’s highly anticipated thriller The Company You Keep and cop drama End of Watch where she stars as Jake Gyllenhaal’s wife.

There’s other roles, too – the sort that don’t generate awards but keep things interesting in a career that is already notable for its diversity.

Today, we’re discussing her work in spooky stop-motion movie ParaNorman, voicing a slutty high-school cheerleader, although she’ll also soon be seen in high school horror comedy Rapturepalooza and musical Pitch Perfect, too.

Standing at just 5ft tall, she’s easily able to pass for much younger despite the fact she recently turned 27. “I know. It’s funny. How much longer can I play high-school?” laughs this practical daughter of a history teacher father and accountant mother.

After playing Bella Swan’s [Stewart] best friend for the first four Twilight movies, she’s grateful that the role didn’t define her in the same way as her colleagues. “I rarely get recognised. It’s always a shock when someone notices me. I always think they must be confusing me with someone else,” says the actress who’s not even being modest, given that I’ve often spotted her with her British director boyfriend Edgar Wright at our local grocery store where fellow shoppers browse, oblivious to a star in their presence, amidst the frozen food aisles.

The couple met three years ago when Wright cast her in his comic-book fantasy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Uncomfortable discussing their relationship, she will say that she’s in no hurry to wed: “My parents got married late and they had kids late, so I never felt a social or cultural thing to be married or pregnant or a homeowner by a certain age.”

Growing up in Portland, Maine, she can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to dance or sing, despite the fact she was by no means a Hollywood kid. Taking the bus to New York for auditions, she was just 12 when she won her first acting role as Dinah in the Broadway musical High Society for which she was nominated for numerous awards including a Tony. Going on to appear in other stage productions, her performance in the musical A Little Night Music caught the attention of movie casting directors, leading to her film debut in 2003 musical Camp.

With such a precocious start in the business, there’s nothing remotely blasé about Kendrick who is refreshingly deadpan and self-deprecating, today curled up in a chair at a Los Angeles hotel suite dressed in skinny jeans, flat pumps and floaty blouse.

She still gets a kick out of where her career has taken her: “My mum was so thrilled that I was working with Robert Redford,” she smiles. “And, certainly, End of Watch is something really different from anything I’ve ever done before,” says the actress, who also played a therapist in dark comedy 50/50 opposite Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

If her voice-work on stop-motion film ParaNorman, didn’t call for any deep character research, then she’s intimately acquainted with the film’s themes of schoolyard bullying and feeling like an outsider. “When I did Rocket Science in 2007, the director Jeff Blitz said he thought that most people made the mistake of remembering school as either the best time of their lives or the worst time of their lives and it’s probably neither. Kids are mean to each other and it’s a very strange environment but, for the most part, I was happy that I got to experience that, and getting picked on for being short isn’t the same thing as being bullied,” says Kendrick who was home-schooled by her dad during her stints on Broadway.

Filled with ghouls and zombies, ParaNorman is poised to tap into a pre-Halloween youthful audience, although Kendrick herself is a tough one to scare: “There’s always moments where you creep yourself out, and you think you heard something and you convince yourself that some spirit is in the room with you, but truly, I don’t believe in any of that kind of thing. A lot of my friends really do and, it’s a funny thing that we just don’t like talk about it anymore because it’s a difficult thing to say: ‘I really think that it’s not real and it’s really silly that you think that it is.’ So we just don’t talk about it.”

‘ParaNorman’ opens on 14 September. {independent.co.uk}

Toronto Q&A: Anna Kendrick on The Company You Keep, Civic Virtue, Weed, and Hip-Hop

TORONTO — Adding to a repertoire that is increasingly impossible to pin down, Anna Kendrick has two small roles in two quite different movies showing here at the Toronto International Film Festival this year: the cop drama End of Watch and the Robert Redford political drama The Company You Keep, about a Weather Underground militant on the run from the FBI. We took a break from going to the movies to sit down with the 27-year-old actress the other day and talked about those movies and much more, Beastie Boys included.

ESQUIRE.COM: So you’re from Portland, Maine. And I know a little about the area: Do friends and family understand exactly what you do? Do you have a hard time describing that?

ANNA KENDRICK: They do and they don’t, but, to a degree, absolutely. They are very understanding about the time commitment and the intensity. My family has had to become quite understanding about me not returning phone calls when I’m filming. They also understand that stuff like this is work, and coming and visiting me during a film festival would not be much fun. But other times, they will ask me questions, and I’m not even sure how to answer them, because the question doesn’t even make sense to me.

ESQ: I noticed a similarity between your roles in End of Watch and The Company You Keep. In End of Watch, you’re part of a, well, morally ambiguous group, based on their actions. In The Company You Keep you’re guilty by association. You follow orders from people who aren’t doing enough.

AK: I’m not sure I agree the roles are similar, necessarily. I understand the connection. But I remember seeing this play called The Vertical Hour, and the person I had seen it with felt as though he didn’t enjoy the play as much as I did, because he felt there were no stakes. I felt like the stakes were quite high because it explored the boundaries of when it is you’re wronging another person and at what point you have crossed the line. I can’t speak to what kind of moral standards you have to have to be in law enforcement — to put yourself on the line in that way — but certainly trying to figure out at what point your responsibility to yourself and to other people begins and ends, that’s something I’m interested in.

SA: How much do you think the kind of civic-mindedness you see in The Company You Keep is important for a person to have?

AK: Getting heavy here. I like it. [Laughs] It’s hard to say. The tricky thing with The Company You Keep — it feels so silly to pontificate on that role; I’m in the movie for like thirty seconds — but my feeling was certainly that this is someone who is ambitious. But someone who thinks of herself as having her heart in the same place as the kids in the Weather Underground probably thought their hearts were. You know, actually trying to make a difference. I think she thinks these are bad people. I’m going to catch bad people.

ESQ: Do you empathize with that kind of thinking?

AK: This part is tricky for me. I didn’t have a lot of time to do research for The Company You Keep. This was one where I ended up staying a week for like seventy-two hours, getting on planes so I could make that schedule work. Before I started filming, I remember being on a plane, having my little headphones in, watching The Weather Underground documentary, and I would listen to passages from the manuscript that they read, pausing it, and writing down counter-arguments from the point of view of a conservative. Which I found interesting and challenging, because I am personally not a conservative. But it was a fascinating exercise.

ESQ: That sounds like something your character in Rocket Science would do.

AK: Exactly.

ESQ: Which reminds me, you’ve had a pretty ridiculously varied history of roles. Twilight movies, now a Redford movie, the show Fear Itself. What kind of scripts do you read?

AK: It’s a mixed bag. The most frustrating things is when you read something that has so much potential, but there are other little red flags where you think, I don’t know that I would see eye-to-eye with the people making this film. And that is the worst environment to enter, and absolutely not worth the risk. If you don’t go in with total trust and security, you’ll never be able to be as open as you want.

ESQ: You have that song that you perfectly lip-sync in End of Watch, “Hey Ma.” And because you’re in Pitch Perfect, I’m curious: What’s your favorite rap song or album?

AK: Well, “Hey Ma” just came on Jake [Gyllenhaal]‘s iPod when we were doing that road trip, so we started singing it. It wasn’t planned at all. And we never did another take of it. It’s not like David [Ayer] was like, “Let’s put that song on again.” He just filmed it, and it ended up in the movie. But my favorite rap song is probably “Get It Together.”

ESQ: Do you have a favorite album?

AK: Most of what I know about rap and hip-hop — and that’s basically nothing — is from my brother. I remember, he listened to Cypress Hill, and that was the first time that he explained to me what weed was. I don’t think he had even seen it at that point, but he was acting pretty cool about it. Because there was that lyric, “Inhale, exhale.” At that age, he enjoyed making me feel like an idiot. Older-brother stuff. He was like, “He’s talking about weed, idiot.” But I’m pretty sure, at that point, my brother didn’t know anything about weed, either. {esquire.com}

The Infamous Billy The Kidd Gets A Warrant To Chat With END OF WATCH’s Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick sure does love to work. Just over the past year, she cameoed as Jessica Stanley in the first half of THE TWILIGHT SAGA conclusion, appeared in a supporting role in the romantic comedy WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING and voiced the character of Courtney Babcock in LAIKA’s PARANORMAN… and she’s not done yet. She still has a small role in Robert Redford’s new film THE COMPANY YOU KEEP still to come, in addition to her starring turn in the musically inclined PITCH PERFECT.

Right now though, she’s got END OF WATCH on her docket, playing Janet, the love interest of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Officer Brian Taylor, which allows us to see a personal side to our police officers, giving us a glimpse into the family life that awaits them when they’re off the job. Kendrick’s part helps draw a distinction between cops and the people who are them when they aren’t wearing the badge, and it lends the film a general sense of humanity in showing that there is more to them than just enforcing the law.

I’d spoken with Anna before when she was out promoting 50/50 last year, and for as smart and quick as she is, that makes her a bit of a tough conversation. She’s very careful with her words and extremely succinct, which doesn’t typically lead to too much back and forth. She knows exactly what she wants to say with her answer, and that’s about all you’re going to get. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s just how she rolls.

I was able to get some time with Anna Kendrick while she was up in Canada for the Toronto International Film Festival, which gave me an opportunity to talk END OF WATCH with her, as well as PITCH PERFECT, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, RAPTUREPALOOZA and DRINKING BUDDIES. And, of course, I tried to pry whatever info I could from her regarding the rumors of her potential casting in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. There was plenty of ground to cover with her as her schedule continues to fill up with interesrting projects, so enjoy…

Anna Kendrick – Hello, hello!

The Infamous Billy The Kidd – Well hi, how are you? How’s Toronto treating you?

Anna Kendrick – It’s been great so far! I love it here, I wish I could watch every movie here. I mean… not just… movies I get to be in, just every movie ever.

The Kidd – [Laughs] Alright, well, let me ask you about END OF WATCH, because the film is kind of able to add a layer of humanity to police officers that we typically don’t see in movies, or generally in real life. That they’re not just cops. They’re husbands, they’re wives, they’re fathers, brothers, etc. What did you learn from doing your research for the film about police officers and how they and their families are able to reconcile what they see on a daily basis in order to have some sort of a normal home life?

Anna Kendrick – Well the really interesting thing for me was when I came to the movie, I felt really underprepared because not only had the guys done a little training and a little research, they’d basically become cops. I remember Jake [Gyllenhaal] talking to a traffic cop and describing all the training he’d gone through, and the guy kind of stopped him halfway through and he was like, “So you’re a cop now, like you’re actually… You’ve done everything you have to do.” So, obviously, that level of preparation was kind of intimidating, and when I came in, it actually ended up being this really beautiful thing where it was sort of a life imitating art situation, because we got to shoot chronologically, and when I came in, it really felt like Jake and Michael [Peña] were people who were fully entrenched in this world, and that they had this long standing relationship, and because of the naturalistic style of filmmaking, I got to really just react to that, and feel a little out of place, and feel a little naive, and even envious of the relationship that they had. And I think in turn, that made Jake extra protective of me, that day and the character and as an actor, and that… The way you would be if you were introducing your new girlfriend to some of your best friends, so it created this really great dynamic, and then as we kept shooting, it felt like every day, for me, but then also for my character, it felt like a new lesson in just how strong I was going to have to be to give my heart to somebody who does this and to start a family with somebody who puts their life on the line.

The Kidd – Did you have conversations with cops girlfriends or wives about…?

Anna Kendrick – No, I didn’t get to… that’s what I mean. I was filming two other movies at the time and so I came in feeling like I’d kind of screwed myself, but that’s what I mean, I think it worked out perfectly. Sometimes that kind of thing happens for a reason because I think it just would have gotten me into a different head space where I’d be thinking “Okay, how do I exhibit the qualities that i found to be present in these families,” when actually Janet is just figuring out how to do that herself, and comes in, and is constantly realizing what this is. The scene in the wedding, when Michael Peña is giving this speech about how you have to be strong to be a cop’s wife, and the way that everybody on the force becomes part of your family. You know, I really was feeling that so much, and looking around at the crowd and being kind of humbled by the fact that I was being accepted into this family. All of that felt so real and so immediate. It actually ended up working out really well.

The Kidd – Between END OF WATCH and also PITCH PERFECT which is coming out, we’re getting to see more of your musical skills. I know you have a background in doing musical theatre, but how much preparation went into the singing scene in the car? Did you have a choice as to what it was you wanted to work with?

Anna Kendrick – Well I’ll tell you how much preparation went into that. Zero percent! That was on the… We were doing this road trip to Vegas, and the idea was to shoot something once we got to Vegas. Dave [Ayer] was in the back with his camera, and he was just shooting out the window sometimes, and we’d just have conversations, whatever, just passing the time, like we were on a road trip. It was just Jake driving, me in the passenger seat, Dave in the back, and that song came on Jake’s iPod, and Jake and I realized that we both knew it by heart and we started singing, and Dave very stealthily put up his camera and started filming us. And at a certain point we realized that he was putting us on film, and we were, “Okay, so we’re Janet and Brian now, not Anna and Jake,” and that’s in the movie. It’s not like he said, “Okay, can you guys start the song again and do that again, that was great.” It was just that it happened and now it’s in the movie. The music supervisor was just… breathed a sigh of relief that we could clear that because I think Dave really wanted to use it.

The Kidd – So is hip hop more your forte?

Anna Kendrick – [Laughs] Yeah. Absolutely. You know I’m street.

The Kidd – [Laughs] And with that, too, how much work went into the wedding dance, and how much of that did you just wing?

Anna Kendrick – We had a couple rehearsals for that at lunchtimes, when we were filming other stuff, and Jake kind of pouted his way through those rehearsals. We were a little concerned about it. And it was weird, because David was the one who was like… thought this was a great idea, and it was the only time I thought he’d be really dorky where he thought this was the most adorable thing. But I think that because Dave is such a kind of hard ass, the idea that he could be excited about something like this… That convinced me that somebody like Brian Taylor could be excited about something that’s kind of silly.

The Kidd – You’re pulling double duty at TIFF this year, between END OF WATCH and THE COMPANY THAT YOU KEEP. Can you give me… Or tell me about your experience of working on a Robert Redford film?

Anna Kendrick – Yeah. It’s a really small part, and I… We managed to get the filming period down to something like three days, and at a certain point… Again, because I had this crazy schedule at the time, at a certain point, my agent was like, “You know, you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to kill yourself to make this work.” And I was like, “I do! I do have to kill myself to make this work.” You know, because if Robert Redford had asked me to bring him coffee on a set, you’d fly to do something like that. I was just really thrilled to have that opportunity.

The Kidd – The last time I talked to you was right around the release of 50/50, and I asked you when we might finally get to see RAPTUREPALOOZA, and that was almost a year ago to the day, so my question to you once again is, when might we actually get to see RAPTUREPALOOZA?

Anna Kendrick – Oh no, I have no idea what’s going on with that movie. Yeah, I don’t know. I had a really good time making it, and I met a lot of really fun people on it, but yeah. I have no idea what’s going on.

The Kidd – Have there been any discussions about any progress being made or is it still just kinda trapped in limbo?

Anna Kendrick – I think it’s just kinda trapped right now, and I’m not sure.

The Kidd – I know that you also just finished shooting DRINKING BUDDIES, which has a very improvisational style. How different is it to go into a film like that as opposed to having something completely laid out on the page and is it tough to be able to hang with your cast at times in order to make the material work?

Anna Kendrick – Interestingly enough, I think that END OF WATCH was sort of like my training wheels for DRINKING BUDDIES. Because even though we had a fully script for this, we improvved almost constantly. I think David knew the story that he wanted to tell, and had planned it out really beautifully, so there’s only a couple moments in the finished film of improv. But going into DRINKING BUDDIES, I never saw a single piece of paper, so it was really intimidating to come into, but it was also kinda the perfect blend of really cool, talented people that you knew that you could count on, but also people who’d never done anything like it, so it didn’t feel like I was going into a movie with Greta Gerwig and I was just going to get… you know, get creamed by her. It was like, a lot of people taking a risk together, and that made the environment feel really safe.

The Kidd – One last question for you. I’m sure that you’ve heard all of the rumblings of your potential involvement with CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. How much truth is there to that, and is there any possibility that you’ll be joining the Marvel Movie Universe?

Anna Kendrick – All I know is that I can’t really say anything. Sorry, man.

The Kidd – That’s okay, I have to at least ask. Thank you very much.

Anna Kendrick – Thanks.

END OF WATCH opens in theatres this Friday, September 21. {aintitcool.com}

TIFF 2012: Anna Kendrick has a soft spot for Toronto

TORONTO — Anna Kendrick is becoming something of a regular at the Toronto International Film Festival. Last year, she debuted 50/50, and she’s had a spot in her heart for the city since filming Scott Pilgrim vs. the World here.

This year, Kendrick is pulling double duty with the gritty LAPD drama End of Watch and Robert Redford’s thriller The Company You Keep. And she couldn’t be happier to be back in town. “I’m really excited,” she tells Metro. “I love TIFF.” Here’s her scoop on her double-feature.

On End of Watch
There was a script, but then we were encouraged to do as much improv as we wanted. I was glad to have that under my belt going into Drinking Buddies, [an improvisation-heavy comedy Kendrick just finished shooting]. And “End of Watch” came together in a really nice way. I’m really proud of it. It’s the first movie I’ve been in that’s that kind of dark and violent, so it’s strange to watch it because I’m just like, “How am I in this movie? I should be watching this just as a theatergoer.” It’s very strange.

On The Company You Keep

Yeah, yeah. And I have a really small role in that. It was just one of those things where it’s like, of course I’m going to say yes to that. There’s no way I’m not going to say yes. I basically have a cameo in the film, but it’s a Robert Redford movie, so come on.

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