The Movieline Interview || by Kyle Buchanan || 08 12 2010 2:00 PM
After earning a supporting actress nomination at the Oscars last year for her work in Up in the Air, Anna Kendrick again provides valuable support as part of the ensemble cast of Edgar Wright’s hyper-caffeinated comic book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs the World. So how does the 25-year-old actress feel about shooting her role as Scott’s sister Stacey, her part in the upcoming cancer comedy Live With It, and the rigors of an Oscar season she’s finally put to bed? She told Movieline.
I’ve heard that Edgar was a big fan of your work in Rocket Science. Did he get in touch with you based on that?
Yeah, I think so. We had a meeting — God, it was a couple years ago, now — and it was actually at 6:30 in the morning before my flight to go shoot the first Twilight film. [Much later], I went in to read for Stacey and got hired. Standard stuff, really.
A 6:30am meeting sounds less than ideal.
Yeah, I was basically falling asleep. It was so early, and food sounded so gross to me, that I thought I was going to throw up at the breakfast table. It went good, though. It was a good enough impression, I guess.
What is Edgar’s shooting process like? There are all these brief setups and half-second shots…was it a hectic filming experience?
It was not without its new challenges. [Laughs] It was definitely a way that I’d never worked before, so it was kind of like a trial by fire. You’re doing a crash-zoom and by the time that it’s, like, the twenty-fifth take, you’re getting embarrassed in front of all the other cast members. At one point, Mary Elizabeth Winstead turned to me and said, “Don’t even worry about it. This is like a rite of passage. You’re not really a Scott Pilgrim cast member until you’ve done thirty takes of a crash-zoom.”
Now, a lot of the actors in the movie spent over seven months training and shooting, but you have a smaller role where you breeze in and out and don;t have to do any fighting. Was your shoot more of an “I’ll come in for a few days and eat whatever I want at craft services, la la la” experience?
[Laughs] I came in late and I was definitely nervous about the prospect of feeling like I wouldn’t be part of the Scott Pilgrim family. But I was just overwhelmed by how friendly everyone was. It’s such a young cast, but I think it’s a cast of professionals, so there was no clique atmosphere by any means. These are hard-working actors and actresses, and they were just happy to have some fresh blood.
It’s a young cast, and a movie that’s perfectly executed for young people who grew up with all these videogame and comic book influences. Do you think older audiences will have any problems with it, though?
Not at all, actually. My mom saw it and she thought it was amazing. I think when people hear “It’s a videogame-inspired movie,” they kind of bristle, but I don’t think that any of the references in the film leave anyone out. Actually, I think people think the movie is more reference-heavy than it actually is, because it’s so smart and fast and funny. I’m surprised by how many times people will say, “That part with that thing was so funny, what was that a reference to?” And I’m like, “It wasn’t a reference to anything. More importantly, you thought it was funny in the first place, so it doesn’t really matter.”
Are you the sort of person who catches those references? If there’s a Legend of Zelda music cue, will you pick up on that?
No, actually. People talk about these music cues from Sonic the Hedgehog and Legend of Zelda, and I’m in the movie, and I have no idea what song cues they’re talking about. It doesn’t affect the way I enjoy the film, obviously.
Now, Comic-Con this year…was that your first time going?
It was my first time going and getting to have the full experience. I’d been with New Moon, but that was more of a Twilight-centric thing and we were sort of sequestered in Twilight world. This was the first time I got to go on the convention center floor, which was amazing.
The fans of Twilight and Scott Pilgrim are both very specific about what they want to see adapted onscreen.
Honestly, I think that in both cases, we’re lucky to have fans who are happy to get a full twenty minutes in the film to just be kind of referenced. There are certain lines in Scott Pilgrim that don’t come from the same scene or even the same character [as in the comic books], but they make sense in the story and I think the fans are the kind of people who will be glad that line or moment got into the movie. They won’t be nitpicking, like, “Well actually, that line was in Volume 3, and Envy Adams said it.”
You’re in the upcoming cancer comedy Live With It, with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tell me a little bit how you got involved, because I know there was a director shakeup early on. Were you attached before Nicole Holofcener left the movie?
No, I’d met with [producer] Nathan Kahane before Up in the Air came out, and I thought that was a pretty good meeting, but I wasn’t officially attached at all until Jonathan Levine came on board. He’d seen Rocket Science and Up in the Air, and I really wanted to be a part of this film. My meeting with Nathan had been months and months before, and I was sort of disappointed that I hadn’t heard anything over time, but over Christmas, they offered it to me and I was so excited.
Now, I wouldn’t usually think of Nicole and Jonathan having much in common as directors. What has he brought to the table?
I don’t know Nicole personally, so I can’t really speak to that, but I think Jonathan is one of those amazing souls who’s smart and sensitivity and funny, and the film has to be all of those things. It’s great to have a director who strikes that balance between having really strong, amazing ideas, but also has an openness toward contribution. Having Seth and Joe and [producer] Evan Goldberg and our incredible screenwriter Will Reiser on set…it’s a really good creative collaboration.
And who do you play in that?
I play a sort of well-meaning but inexperienced — and maybe not very talented — social worker to Joe’s character, who has cancer. She’s definitely supposed to be helping him, but she ends up being more of an obstacle than a helping hand at certain points. She’s very enthusiastic, but she’s maybe not the help that he’s looking for.
Now, I had thought that you’re done with the Twilight films, but IMDb lists you as being part of Breaking Dawn. Is that an error?
IMDb never lies, so… [Laughs] I honestly don’t know. The honest-to-God truth is that I have not talked to [screenwriter] Melissa Rosenberg about it.
How does it feel to be done with that franchise?
I feel like I got to go in and do my little silliness and try to be funny in the time that I was given. It was cool to be a part of something from the beginning when we had no idea what it was going to become, but it’s not really my movie, it’s not my experience. I’m just happy to have been along for the ride.
“I did press for, like, six months, and it started to feel like my job was to talk about Up in the Air and not to be an actress.”
For that matter, how does it feel to be done with the ride that was the Oscar gauntlet? I interviewed you before Up in the Air came out, and you said you were worried that you’d have to do so much press that you’d have to fight your answers from becoming mechanical. How did you fight that? Was it draining?
Yeah, it was really draining. I did press for, like, six months, and it started to feel like my job was to talk about Up in the Air and not to be an actress. [Laughs]
Six months…that’s probably double the amount of time it took to shoot the actual movie.
It absolutely was, yeah. It was definitely a weird time. I’m sort of glad that it all happened — I mean, obviously I’m glad it happened — but I sort of got thrown in the deep end, and now I feel confident about press and events. I feel like I should have a T-shirt that says, “I survived Up in the Air press.” [Laughs]
[Main Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/WireImage]