AUGUST 10, 2010
Anna Kendrick shot to fame last year with her Oscar-nominated role opposite George Clooney in “Up in the Air,” but New York theater fans have been familiar with the actress for more than a decade. In 1998, at age 12, Ms. Kendrick was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway production of “High Society,” becoming one of the youngest actresses to achieve the distinction.
At the time, Ms. Kendrick, who is from Maine, lived with her father and older brother in Yonkers. Since then she has grown into a promising adult actress, with roles in the musical theater-inspired “Camp,” the wildly popular “Twilight” franchise and “Up in the Air.’ Her latest role is as the no-nonsense sister to Michael Cera’s dreamy garage-band lothario in “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”
The Journal spoke with Ms. Kendrick, who turned 25 on Monday.
Wall Street Journal: You attended Comic-Con recently to promote “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” which is based on a comic book. What’s the convention like?
Ms. Kendrick: Comic-Con was awesome. It’s like geeks take over the city of San Diego. [They’re] in their element and really shining.
WSJ: Speaking of geeks, movies like “High School Musical” and shows like “Glee” have made musical theater cool among kids in recent years. Was that the case when you were in high school?
Ms. Kendrick: We were total freaks. It was not cool. I did not get any street cred for doing theater at my school.
WSJ: So when you were younger, where did the motivation to act come from?
Ms. Kendrick: Why does a six year old kid want to play soccer? I think it’s the same thing. You just want to be on stage. That’s the only thing that matters. You don’t worry about the motivation for that.
WSJ: What was it like to be a 12-year-old stage actress in New York?
Ms. Kendrick: I went down on the bus with my brother and we would sort of like be running around New York. When I was doing that show and doing auditions, we were staying in New York by ourselves. We thought we were pretty rad. I guess it’s strange, because I get these gasps of horror when I say that I went to New York with my brother or by myself when I was really young from Maine. But kids live in New York. It was like a magical place for us. We didn’t think it was that big a deal.
WSJ: If you were writing a manual for other young actors titled “How to Survive Awards Season,” what would be your advice?
Ms. Kendrick: To not worry about the fact that the thing you probably care most about in the world—your performance and your work—is being reduced to a soundbite about lip gloss. You’re going to be on red carpets and the only thing they’re going to ask you about are your shoes.
WSJ: When you’re involved in a cultural phenomenon like “Twilight,” does someone from the movie studio sit you down and prepare you?
Ms. Kendrick: Nobody ever really sat me down. I understand that, because people react differently to that kind of thing. I’m glad that the paparazzi haven’t followed me. It’s amazing the way from the outside you can think that there must be something kind of cool or glamorous about it. The very few times it’s happened to me, it’s so terrifying.