By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Anna Kendrick got her start in musical theater, earning a Tony nomination at the tender age of 12 for her role as Dinah Lord in the 1997 Broadway musical production of “High Society.” One of her earliest film roles was playing a musical theater student in “Camp.” With “Pitch Perfect,” she returns to her roots, playing a college student, who reluctantly gets involved in an a cappella group, comprised of an odd assortment of outcasts, and ends up becoming it’s star performer.
The comedy is a mash up of “Bring it On” and “Glee,” only with the performers singing without musical instruments. Directed by “Avenue Q’s” Jason Moore, “Pitch Perfect” was written by “The New Girl” writer Kay Cannon, and based on Mickey Rapkin’s book documenting the fascinating world of competitive a cappella singing. She stars alongside Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp and Skylar Astin.
Kendrick arrives for an interview wearing a lacy brown print blouse and short black skirt ensemble, and five-inch black heels, which she insists are comfortable.
At just 27, the petite brunette is one of the most in-demand young actresses in Hollywood, following her standout performance as George Clooney’s tightly wound assistant in 2009’s “Up in the Air,” in which she earned an Academy Award nomination.
Besides her comedic turn in “Pitch Perfect,” Kendrick has two other movies currently in theaters. She plays Jake Gyllenhaal’s sexy girlfriend in the hit police drama “End of Watch,” and she provides the voice of the monster-fighting schoolboy’s sister Courtney in the animated horror comedy “ParaNorman.”
It’s no wonder filmmakers want to work with her. She not only is a versatile actress, she also is charming, witty and unafraid to act girly.
Q: Having started out in musical theater, do you any horror stories from those early days?
Kendrick: I forgot the lyrics to “Good Ship Lollipop” when I was five at a dance recital and I decided to sit on stage and cry and then I went off stage. That was scarring.
Q: What was your favorite song in “Pitch Perfect,” and why?
Kendrick: “No Diggity,” because it’s the best song ever.
Q: Did Jason bring any of his “Avenue Q” puppets to the set? And what was he like to work with?
Kendrick: Yes, and we played with them. (She chuckles.) Not really. But Jason is amazing. He’s really smart. He’s really on. I think he sees everything from every angle and he has such amazing taste. He makes you feel safe when you’re in a pool singing “No Diggity” and wondering, is this going to come across well, or am I just going to come across like this tiny white girl singing “No Diggity.” He was a great guy to have as the captain of the ship.
Q: What were the most fun sequences to shoot for musical numbers and what was the most challenging?
Kendrick: The final number was both the most challenging and the most fun. That was a moment where it really felt like it was just the 10 of us girls supporting each other. The crew was there, but they weren’t really close to us and the audience was full of (extras). It felt like we really had to rely on each other and support each other and feed off each other’s energy in a way that I think is exclusive to theatrical performance. I thought that was a really beautiful thing to look around at all these girls and know that they’re my co-workers and my friends and that we’re kind of in it for each other. We’re not really thinking about the cameras; we were just trying to be there to support each other.
Q: What is your go-to karaoke song?
Kendrick: (She gets out her smart phone and starts scrolling through her songs.) I’m looking to see if there’s a song that I can start pretending is my karaoke song. (After a moment, she finds one.) I just realized what it is and I don’t even know how I memorized it, but I did, which is Jay-Z’s “99 Problems.” I know that song by heart.
Q: You’ve you got three films out at the same time. How did you juggle doing them? Was there one project more challenging than the others?
Kendrick: They’re all so different, but this was more of a time commitment so I worked a lot more on this one. But, obviously, each one presented its individual challenges. This one was hard and I remember saying to Jason, when I was kind of debating whether or not I was up for it, I remember saying to him I’m not actually 18. At some point, I’m going to get really sick and I’m going to be like singing and dancing and acting my face off all over this movie. So it made me feel like such an old lady, because it really wore me down—in the best way. I was shooting (the Robert Redford directed thriller “The Company You Keep”) and trying to promote the drama “50/50” at the same time. So, I was tired but it was also so much fun. It wasn’t like I was playing someone with cancer the entire time. It was like I got to go to work and mess around with these girls all the time, which was really great.
Q: Was there anything cut that might show up on the DVD when it’s released?
Kendrick: I’ve seen a version from a couple of months ago and I think things have changed since then, and I was just like approving the deleted scenes or whatever and I was like, THAT got cut? So there’s going to be a lot of great stuff on the outtakes, which is great, I guess, but I’d rather it was in the movie.
Q: Were there any song numbers that you did that were cut, that you wish weren’t?
Kendrick: No. There’s only one song that got cut, and it was performed by one of the more minor a cappella groups.
Q: After a long day of filming, what’s your routine when you leave the set? What’s best way to get rid of all that caked on makeup?
Kendrick: So much caked on makeup, just caked on. (She says this with mock exasperation). Because I wear a lot of eye makeup in this movie, I would actually go to the trailer after work and our makeup artist had a couple of hot washcloths ready for me, which felt really good to just get in there. But it’s really just the basic stuff: a dermatological cleanser and a washcloth.
Q: With all the dancing you do in this film, did you have to adhere to a strict diet?
Kendrick: Well, sort of. We started out so healthy. We were getting lunch from (organic supermarket) Whole Foods every day and we were dancing three hours a day and I felt really alive. Then, about halfway through the actual shoot, I was just like, “can I please get home and eat raw cookie dough? Please?”
Q: Did you have any say in the wardrobe?
Kendrick: I designed everything I wore. I made it by hand on a sewing machine that I rented. (She laughs.) No. It’s obviously the wardrobe designer’s job, and Sal (Perez) is a really talented guy, so we were respectful of that, but certainly our input was welcome. It’s give and take.
Q: Did you have a specific clique that you were in when you were in school?
Kendrick: (She deadpans.) I was in the Super Mean Girl clique. I was really popular and tall and skinny. No, really, I was in the Drama Geek clique—if that’s even considered a clique. I don’t know if that warrants a name, but yes, I hung out in the auditorium at lunch and stuff, and we were aggressively dorky.
Q: How aware are you that this film is likely to have a large gay following?
Kendrick: It’s pretty exciting. I’m aware. A guy came up to me in Santa Monica (California), and said, “excuse me, did you play Fritzi in (the 2003’s musical) ‘Camp?’ I just wanted you to know that I do a drag version of you?” And I thought that was the most amazing thing I had ever heard. I was like, “I know I’ve made it when somebody does me as a drag queen.”