Anna Kendrick was born in Portland, Maine on August 9, 1985 to Janice, an accountant, and William K. Kendrick, a history teacher and financer. Anna had a passion for performing from an early age, starting with dancing lessons and starring in “Annie” at her local community theater at age five. Anna fondly recalls taking the bus with her brother (two-years-older actor Michael Cooke Kendrick) into New York City at age ten, where the two auditioned for various commercials and she landed her first talent agent. Anna recalls her child-actress self as “one of those hyperactive kids who wanted to jump around and sing and dance and scream and be on stage.” By twelve, Anna had auditioned her way to Broadway, and was playing precocious burlesque child Dinah in “High Society.”
Anna moved to New York for the Broadway-span and lived with her now divorced father. She was tutored between rehearsals, working hard hours with the all-adult cast. Critics were so impressed by Anna’s singing, dancing, and acting in the role that she landed a Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award and was even nominated for the “Best Actress in a Musical” Tony in 1998. Although Audra McDonald took the trophy, Anna went down in history as being the third youngest Tony nominee of all time (after Frankie Michaels and Daisy Eagen).
Yet despite Anna’s thriving theater accolades, she was eager to return to normal life in Maine. At her public middle school in Portland, Anna claims to have received some teasing because of her Broadway-status, but continued her Broadway involvement through her teen years, workshopping “Jane Eyre”, “The Little Princess” and “A Little Night Music”.When she was 17, Anna’s High Society co-star Randy Graff recommended Anna for her director-brothers coming of age musical film, and in 2003 Anna landed a supporting role in her first feature film: Camp. Anna plays Fritzi Wagner — a manipulative, socially-awkward theater geek with a stage-stealing solo covering Steven Sodheim’s “Ladies Who Lunch”. After a Sundance opening, Anna received a 2004 Independent Spirit Award.
Anna also participated in the drama club in Deering High School, where she is remembered as being ‘sweet and kind’, ‘always in the moment’, and ‘extremely dedicated’ by her former acting coach. Besides acting, Anna was known for her proficiency with the accordion. Anna graduated Deering in 2003 with honor role grades and headed to the West coast to further pursue her talent.
Moving to L.A.
It took some time for Anna to find work in Los Angeles. After some unsuccessful TV pilots, Anna auditioned for Jeff Blitz’s coming of age indie film Rocket Science for the role of motor-mouthed high school debater Ginny Ryerson. During the casting, Blitz recalls jotting down “Anna Kendrick is Ginny Ryerson,” because of her striking similarities with the brainy high school overacheiver. The critics noticed Anna’s spot on performance as well, and Anna was awarded Best Supporting Actress at the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards. Anna’s Rocket Science performance would be what continued to awe directors and launch Anna into the mainstream.
One director who happened to be wowed by Anna’s Rocket Science performance was Catherine Hardewick, who directed the first two “Twilight” films. Hardewick personally requested Anna for the role of the Forks High School chatterbox Jessica Stanley in 2008. Despite Anna’s role being small, critics claimed that Anna stole all her scenes in the insanely popular vampire franchise, and Anna reprised her role for the sequels.
In 2009, Anna had starring roles in the little-released films Elsewhere and The Marc Pease Experience. Elsewhere, a thriller about a girl whose best friend goes missing in a small Indiana town, was Anna’s first lead role. The Marc Pease Experience saw Anna act alongside big name cast like Ben Stiller and Jason Schwartzman – which was enough to make her feel nautious on her first day of filming. Yet Anna was a natural at playing high school musical theater star Meg Brickman (not a far stretch for Ms. Kendrick at all)!
Making it Big
However, Anna garnered national attention starring in Up In the Air. Anna “just nailed the part,” beating out well-known starlets such as Ellen Page and Emily Blunt for the coveted role of the headstrong Ivy-league grad entrepreneur Natalie Keener. Although Anna claims the audition process was a disaster and she thought writer-direcor Jason Reitman ‘hated’ her, Jason later admitted that he wrote the award winning script with Anna in mind, after also being impressed with her Rocket Science performance. Jason has said that Anna reminds him of strong female actresses in the 1930’s that are just not seen in modern film anymore. Ironic, considering Anna’s favorite film character to date is Sylvia Fowler (played by Rosalind Russel) in the 1939 film The Women. After finding out that George Clooney and Vera Farmiga were attached to Up in the Air, Anna was nervous the weeks that led up to shooting, and thought the studio would decide to replace her ‘at any moment with Scarlet Johanssen’. But Anna’s nerves quickly subsided after befriending her famous co-stars who joked with Anna on and off-set from everything about working on Twilight to relationship rules.
With the overwhelmingly positive reviews for the December 2009 opening of Up in the Air came talk show appearances such as Jay Leno, Letterman, and Good Morning America — not to mention a spot on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and hundreds of press interviews and media events. As for awards season, Anna was a hot commodity with the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild , and eventually nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award along with Up in the Air co-star Vera Farmiga. Anna lost most of the 2010 awards season to ‘Precious’ supporting actress Mo’nique, yet made quite the name for herself.
After Anna’s success in Up in the Air, she tried to turn away from being type cast in a similar role and played everything from a naive psychiatrist in 50/50 (2010), to voicing a surly teenager in the stop-animation feature ParaNorman (2011). Anna loves being on set and in 2012 Anna had 6 movies released, including What to Expect When You’re Expecting, End of Watch, and The Company You Keep.
The surprise hit comedy Pitch Perfect (2012) showed off Anna’s singing chops when she starred as Beca, an emo college Freshsmen who joins an Accapella group. In an audition scene in the movie, Anna sings what has been known as “The Cup Song,” singing a cover of “When I’m Gone” originally a bluegrass song written by A.P. Carter and recorded in 1931 by The Carter Family. She sings while making a rhythmic pattern with a plastic cup, something Anna had taught herself off of a Youtube video. The song was given some different background music and was released by Republic and UMe.The single received radio time, something almost unheard of for a movie soundtrack. When Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore decided to make a music video based on one of the soundtracks, he chose this iconic scene in the movie. In March 2013 Anna shot the video, acting as a waitress performing the signature cups moves and clapping with extras who were real fans of the song. The song reached number 21 in the Billboard Hot 100, and has a huge fan following, with legions of kids trying to replicate the song and signature moves.
Anna starred in some more music videos, viral videos, and TV show spots after that, as well as indie movies including Sundance favorite Drinking Buddies (2013). Anna has six movies lined up for 2014, including two musicals: The Last Five Years, and Into the Woods. The Last Five Years, based off the Broadway production sees Anna as Cathy, and Anna plays Cinderella in the highly anticipated Into the Woods, which also stars Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. Anna has joked that she is sick of musicals now!
In April 2012 Anna bought a $1 million home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Beachwood Canyon. The 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home boasts a state of the art all white kitchen – perfect for Anna’s love of baking!
Anna is very quiet about her love life and would frequently defend her Twilight co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s relationship from the press. However, Anna was linked with her Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (2010) director Edgar Wright from 2009 – 2013.
She is a big gay-rights activist and has been known to campaign for anti-bullying as well.
When Anna isn’t busy acting, singing, dancing, she likes to be on the one on the other side of the screen, relaxing and watching TV from home!