The charming star of Into the Woods and Pitch Perfect 2 opens up about the films, her thoughts on feminism in 2014, and getting hacked.
There are few actresses these days that inspire more goodwill than Anna Kendrick. The pint-sized pitch-slapper is currently toplining a beloved franchise as the de facto leader of The Barden Bellas in the Pitch Perfect films, earned a Billboard-charting hit for song “Cups (When I’m Gone),” and is about to star as a classic character in one of the most hotly-anticipated films this holiday season.
That film is Into the Woods. Directed by Rob Marshall, it’s a blockbuster adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Sondheim musical of the same name that sees several of your favorite Grimm fairy tales crossover, and explores what happens after “happily ever after.”
Into the Woods centers on a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), who have a curse placed on them by a vengeful witch (Meryl Streep). In order to break the spell and bear children, they must collect four items from the mysterious woods. Along the way, they cross paths with Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and last but not least, Cinderella, played by Kendrick.
The Daily Beast spoke with the lovely actress about the holiday movie, in theaters Christmas Day, and much more.
This was supposed to be an End of Watch reunion, with Jake Gyllenhaal playing one of the princes.
I know! I was so pissed at Jake, let me tell you. I texted him and said, “You’re abandoning me, and I’m never going to forgive you!” And then I saw the trailer to Nightcrawler and texted him again and said, “Wow, you inspire me every day.” But Billy [Magnussen] is really fantastic.
Did you grow up as a big fan of the Disney flicks?
Sure, but I was more of a musical theater geek than a Disney fan. I did High Society on Broadway when I was 12. I was a little freak. All kid’s sing, and I think it’s the ones who are told not to shut up who keep doing it. I just thought singing was really fun. I did a production of Annie up in Portland and played one of the orphans singing, “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” And my parents just gave and gave and gave of themselves to support this insane ambition that I had when I was a little kid. They drove me to auditions from Portland into New York. I’m actually about to make that drive soon for Thanksgiving…but all I’m bringing them is pumpkin pie.
“Because it happened en masse in that way, it forced people to come around and go, ‘Everybody does this and victim-blaming is not helping.'”
This is a more subversive take on the Disney fairy tales. In the original play, the Big Bad Wolf even had a floppy penis attached to his costume.
I know! It’s sort of like when you see The Simpsons make fun of Fox. In some ways, I was surprised to see Disney do it because it takes their classic tales and skewers them, and says it’s dangerous to tell children these stories and that it’s important to infuse pieces of reality. People talk about how there’s so much tragedy in Pixar movies and questions about whether or not it’s a children’s movie, but it’s important to show kids that that’s what happens; there’s no perfect world to escape to, and tragedy exists in every dimension. Into the Woods takes on the responsibility of saying, “Stuff happens after happily ever after.”
It also gives the female characters more agency. The Disney princesses are really, in a way, seeking validation through men. They don’t even have mothers, are raised by overwhelmed single fathers, and are basically in search of a father figure.
That’s interesting. To me, what’s interesting about this particular Cinderella story is that not only does she say, “Getting a man isn’t everything and I choose something else,” but she’s also saying, “Just because my lot in life improved a bit doesn’t mean I don’t deserve better.” She goes from being the lowest of the low in society to being a princess, and even though she knows people envy her situation, she chooses “the unknown” over the “security” of that situation. And that’s very brave.
That’s also the name of that really great theme song to Rocket Science—Clem Snide’s “I Love the Unknown.”
“I Love the Unknown!” Yeah! God, I love that song. That’s so funny. But there’s something to be said about women standing up for themselves. I know there are women who stay in relationships because they’re afraid of the devil they don’t know, and for somebody who comes from a home of abuse and neglect to marry a prince and then say, “This is not good enough… I want something authentic” is very brave.