Newcomer Anna Kendrick of the “Twilight” saga shines opposite George Clooney in “Up in the Air.”

Brian Truitt • November 29, 2009

Anna Kendrick’s trips between film festivals and movie sets have included lots of jet lag, frequent flier miles (when she actually remembers to register for them) and travel snafus. “I’m always the one with the scissors in my carry-on or the belt that sets off the metal detectors,” laments the 24-year-old actress. “I’m usually falling apart in the middle of an airport.”

She’s the picture of professionalism, though, when she isn’t hopping on all those connecting flights. Her breakthrough role in “Up in the Air,” opening Dec. 4 in some cities, has the newcomer and superstar George Clooney playing a pair of traveling corporate downsizers. Kendrick managed to squeeze her star-making turn with Clooney into an already packed movie season: The actress also can be found in the “Twilight” films “New Moon” (in theaters now) and “Eclipse” (due next summer), in which she spends quality screen time with another famous heartthrob, Robert Pattinson.

Although those two guys are tabloid regulars, the “Up in the Air” star is just fine with flying, so to speak, under the radar. Getting gussied up for premieres isn’t quite her style. The good news: She can get back to “my Converse-wearing, video-store existence right after I’m doing something really glamorous,” she says.

Awards and good reviews already are piling up for Kendrick — including an upcoming Rising Star Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival — and there is increasing buzz that she could be up for a best supporting actress Oscar. But then, that sort of acclaim isn’t new. A native of Portland, Maine, Kendrick became the second-youngest Tony nominee when she starred on Broadway in “High Society” at 12.

Theater took her to New York, but “Up in the Air” has landed her several more places with Clooney, including Omaha. “The first day I showed up on set, I was sick, and he was telling me to eat chicken soup. I questioned him because I thought it was just an old wives’ tale,” she recalls. “He told me that I should trust him because he played a doctor on TV.” (Remember “ER?”)

From what she has gathered working with the likes of Clooney, Pattinson and other A-listers, there isn’t one formula for success. “If there were, then anybody could do it,” she says. Kendrick’s secret? A lot of luck. And she considers herself just as fortunate that, whenever a flight home lands, she can resume her low-key lifestyle in West Hollywood. “For a few days in certain cities, I get treated like I’m a big deal, and then I get to go back and feel totally normal again.”
Who else is getting best supporting actress buzz?

These three actresses also could be in the thick of things when Oscar nominations are handed out in January.

Mo’Nique (“Precious”): She’s best known for her comedic roles, but most critics think she’s a lock to get a nod for playing the abusive mother of an illiterate Harlem teenager.

Melanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”): The French actress is the competition’s dark horse. But her character, who plots revenge against the Nazis, is one of the most memorable from Quentin Tarantino’s World War II flick.

Rachel Weisz (“The Lovely Bones”): The British actress won this category for “The Constant Gardener.” Playing a grieving mom mourning the loss of her daughter is the kind of tear-jerking performance the Academy loves.