Time Out New York: Anna Kendrick

Last year’s breakout star talks about surviving Twilight and coddling Michael Cera. By Audrey Tempelsman
Photograph: Art Streiber/August

Anna Kendrick has worked with both of our imaginary boyfriends, George Clooney and Robert Pattinson. But despite her costars’ scene-stealing good looks, the 25-year-old actor from Portland, Maine, grabs our attention every time—whether as Jessica Stanley, the best friend of Bella (Kristen Stewart) in the Twilight films, or as high-strung company upstart Natalie Keener in Jason Reitman’s 2009 film, Up in the Air, a supporting role for which she garnered an Academy Award nomination. (Reitman wrote the part for her after seeing Rocket Science, in which she played a domineering high-school-debate-team leader.) Starting Friday 13, you can see her in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as the bossy older sister of unlikely heartthrob Michael Cera, who spends the film slaying his dream girl’s murderous exes. We caught up with her the morning after the world premiere in L.A.

How would you describe your character, Stacey Pilgrim?
She’s sort of like Jiminy Cricket. She’s basically the voice in the back of your head that you know is right, but that you know you’re not going to listen to. The little voice that goes, “I told you so” when things go to shit.

Seems you speak from experience. What does your reproachful inner voice sound like?
I guess mine is like the disapproving look of my dad. And you’re like, Whatever. You’re not even here. You’re, like, 3,000 miles away. I can do what I want.

So your inner voice is just angry silence?
Yeah, just stone cold. You know, like, “You should know better, young lady.”

Didn’t your dad have a penchant for winter camping? In Maine?
I guess however you grow up, you think that’s normal. But now I think about that and I’m like, Why would you take your wife and kids out into the middle of a mountain with snow, and then just pitch a tent? At the time, it was like, Okay, that’s what families do, right? And it wasn’t until much later that I was like, Oh my God, my dad was an insane person.

You must have a hardy immune system now.
My brother got a lot more sick than I did. There was one time when he got so dehydrated, he was throwing up and stuff. That was the last time we ever went.

Family bonding at its finest. Think you’ll pass the tradition on to your children?
Very warm camping only. Or we can make a tent in the living room.

Speaking of siblings, did you have fun bossing Michael Cera around?
I had the urge to boss Scott Pilgrim around, but Michael, I’m just like, “Do you want cookies and milk or something? You’re so sweet.” Maybe I have a mom complex. I just want to tuck him in.

What was the cast dynamic like?
It’s a good thing that we all got along, ’cause those fight scenes take like three weeks to shoot. There’s a lot of standing around, so you have to find a way to pass the time. So you end up doing impressions.

Who’d you imitate?
Well, we were trying to do impressions of [director] Edgar [Wright], and it’s impossible. He’s got this crazy hybrid accent; he sounds like he’s from everywhere. Mary [Elizabeth Winstead] was okay at it, I was not very good.

We were bummed you didn’t get your own ass-kicking scene. If you could write one in, who would you fight?
I’d take on Superman. You know, go big or go home.

While we’re on this topic, do you play for Team Edward or Team Jacob?
I’m Team Jacob. I read Twilight, and then I read New Moon, and when Edward left, I was like, Okay. Bye. Then he [came back and] was all controlling. And I was like, Whatever. Fuck you, man, you left.

You were recently at Comic-Con for Scott Pilgrim. Was it different from your experience there for Twilight?
When I went with New Moon, they didn’t really let us experience Comic-Con at all. They kind of had to keep us sequestered in Twilight world, so that none of us would be torn to pieces.

Was this time around equally terrifying?
When you’re being escorted through a crowd, and there’s that really high energy, you definitely feel like you’re about to be assassinated. And watching the way people get around Michael is a little scary. But I’m short, so maybe I just stay under the radar.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World opens Fri 13.

August 9, 2010

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