Anna Kendrick's managed to pull off a musical trifecta this year. First came her turn as Cinderella in the film adaptation of Into the Woods. Then she starred in The Last Five Years, as one half of a couple singing the events of their five-year relationship. Finally, she's a capp-ing it all off with Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to the original blockbuster film about an underdog, all-female a cappella group.
How many musicals will it take to satisfy her seemingly insatiable appetite for song?
"It's hard for me to turn down anything where I get to sing," Kendrick says. "I have such a deep love for music that in a way it will always be closer to my heart than anything else I do. Acting is my profession, but sometimes I will be performing a song and I feel like weeping, that's how emotional I get about music."
In Pitch Perfect 2, Kendrick reprises her role as Beca, the fearless leader of the Bellas. The a capella singing group triumphed in the original film, but must now restore its honor after a disastrous recital in D.C. where charismatic alto "Fat Amy" (Rebel Wilson) suffers an ill-timed wardrobe malfunction and ends up flashing the audience (including the Obamas, no less) and a nationwide TV audience. Other returning cast members include Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hana Mae Lee and Alexis Knapp, as well as some of their former rivals from the all-male group The Treblemakers: Skylar Astin and Adam Devine.
The film marks the directorial debut of actress Elizabeth Banks, who developed and produced the original. She also returns to her supporting role as an acid-tongued color commentator for the sport of competitive a cappella.
Kendrick is fast becoming one of Hollywood's most popular personalities. Earlier this year, she joined Neil Patrick Harris on stage at the opening of the Oscar ceremonies, where she sang his opening song "Moving Pictures" in the guise of her Into the Woods character, Cinderella. She's also famous for sassy Twitter comments including her famous Ryan Gosling-centered tweet: "Ugh - NEVER going to a Ryan Gosling movie in a theater again. Apparently masturbating in the back row is still considered ‘inappropriate.'" (Another example of Kendrick's saucy nature: She blurted out the ending to Fifty Shades of Grey at the February press conference for her own film, The Last Five Years.)
The 29-year-old Kendrick was born and raised in Portland, Maine, and demonstrated a talent for singing and acting in high school. In 1998, she was nominated for a Tony Award as best actress (musical) for her role in High Society, becoming, at age 12, the second youngest nominee ever. Her film breakthrough came with her Oscar-nominated performance opposite George Clooney in Up in the Air in 2009, in addition to her work in the Twilight films and roles in End of Watch, The Company You Keep, and 50/50.
Anna, did you ever imagine you would get so many opportunities to showcase your singing talent this past year? No. Never. I had backed away from my singing to get more established doing dramas and other kinds of films and suddenly one project after another came my way. I'm very happy that musicals are making a comeback in the movies now because there weren't that many getting made for a while. I'm incredibly fortunate to be part of these projects because it might be a long time before these opportunities come along again. I can't say no to anything.
Are you one of those actors who always worried about finding the next job? I worry more when I have too much time on my hands. I'm a work freak. Whenever I'm not working, I sit around my house moaning, "What am I doing with my life?" I need to keep busy or the anxiety builds up and I start calling my agent and friends and wondering why I don't have a huge studio film lined up.
Do you have a master plan for your film career? I would like to have some grand strategy and work hard at carrying it out but I'm too impatient for that. I love to work and throw myself into different kinds of films even though sometimes it might be a risk or there's a chance that it could bomb. It's not easy to pick winners. Although when I've had the chance to work on a big film like Into the Woods where I get to work with Meryl Streep, I'm usually smart enough to say, "That seems pretty good."
As long as I don't have the feeling that I'm risking total humiliation, I'm usually anxious to jump on board a project. It's always interesting to see how things turn out and I've had some very good experiences doing movies that no one thought would turn out to be that good. Pitch Perfect was a very risky film when we did the first one and it turned out to be something amazingly successful and people loved it. No one had any idea that that movie would take off and reach as big an audience as it did. That shows how you need to take a few chances.
How happy were you to be able to return to the Bellas in Pitch Perfect 2? We all had such a great time doing the first one that it's great to have been able to hang out with everyone again. There was a lot of girls' partying while we shot the second one. We're pretty close and it was so good to see Elizabeth (Banks) directing this one. She's invested so much into these films and I'm so happy to be able to work someone who is so smart and cool.
Apparently the Green Bay Packers make a cameo appearance in the film? Yes. They were huge fans of the original and we all thought it would be a great idea if they could do something in this film. They were incredibly good, and they could sing the whole finale perfectly. It was a slightly disturbing experience though, because they're so huge. I'm 5'2" and being around massive football players makes you wonder if you're the same species!
Do you worry about becoming overly identified with your singing as opposed to your more dramatic roles? No, because I work a lot and I think of myself more as a character actress rather than someone who's only going to want to do big films and carry them the way big movie stars can do. I've never seen myself as being attractive or hot enough to win the big female leads in certain kinds of Hollywood movies and I would rather be getting roles because I'm seen as a good actress and I can bring something interesting to the part.
Your friend, actor Aubrey Plaza, has described you as "the weirdest combo of impulsive tequila-drinking party girl and 80-year-old senator’s wife from Vermont." How do you respond to that? Aubrey is so much fun to hang around with. She's helped me become a lot less stressed and open up a lot more even though I still get stressed and just can't help myself. I sometimes get down on myself and worry about everything and Aubrey is the one person I know I can always count to lighten things up and get me to have a good time.
What was one of the hardest times in your life while you were trying to make it in Hollywood? Worrying about paying the bills while doing a lot of waitressing and catering jobs. That was a very hard and lonely kind of life and you're wondering how long you can keep going when you're just barely earning enough to pay your rent and feed yourself. I think I have a hard time saying no to jobs because I still remember what it was like to worry about very basic things.
You're famous as much for your Twitter feed as for your acting career. Do you ever worry about being too personal and provocative or being too honest in some of your comments? You always run the risk of getting into trouble but I don't worry too much about that. I think of it as an interesting game you can play with 140 characters at your disposal. I worry more about trying to make a joke and then I see that it wasn't as funny as I thought and I wind up deleting some posts that were pretty boring. I have fun with Twitter and it gives me a chance to come up with observations that strike me as humourous at the time and I like being able to share those comments. I'm also not that interested in ridiculing other people or making nasty remarks which are usually the kind of thing that can create a backlash and then you have to make some grovelling apology.
Except for your Ryan Gosling tweet, we don't seem to hear anything scandalous about your personal life? I’m grateful I’m such a boring young lady. Being a bad girl would be too exhausting. If there are any pictures of me out there in the cloud, I’m with puppies or eating chocolate.