Anna Kendrick in ‘Pitch Perfect’
Whether you’ve noticed or not, Anna Kendrick is one of Hollywood’s busiest actresses. The Oscar-nominated performer stars in six movies this year, two of which just debuted at the Toronto Film Festival (the musical The Last 5 Years and the black comedy Cake). Earlier this year, she filmed the sequel to Pitch Perfect, and she’ll play Cinderella in the highly anticipated movie musical Into the Woods which hits theaters Dec. 25. Kendrick doesn’t often open up about her personal life, but like many stars, she made an exception for comedian Marc Maron in his latest “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast. Among the things we learned: George Clooney tossed footballs at her during the filming of Up In the Air; she thought she was washed at age 14; and she once tossed a pair of diamond earrings. Here’s a roundup of all the things we learned.
George Clooney had some novel ways of getting Kendrick to calm down on the set of Up In the Air. The first thing Clooney said to Kendrick was “Do you get nervous? I get nervous.”Kendrick was terrified to do scenes with her famous costar, but with that one remark, he completely calmed her down. “The smallest thing, but [it] just opened up my whole world,” she marvels. “He probably does that for everybody… Just a couple words from him, and you’re like, ‘Omigod, he’s a person and I’m a person! We’re the same!’” Clooney also had a more playful method of calming his co-star’s nerves. “There was a day when I was really in my head about a scene we were about to do, and he was throwing Nerf footballs around, intentionally kind of hitting me,” Kendrick recalls. “At the time, I was genuinely like, ‘Bro! I’m trying to get in the scene!’ But it was like, ‘You need to snap out of it a little bit.’”
She once got a pair of diamond earrings from an obsessed fan — and threw them in the trash. Kendrick explained to Maron that she doesn’t accept gifts sent to her home address, because she considers it a violation of privacy and a potential threat. “You never know if there’s anthrax in the teddy bear,” she says. “And no, there’s probably not, but it just goes in the trash.” On her recent 29th birthday, a male fan sent her a long letter and a pair of real diamond earrings which she threw away. “On principle, if the teddy bear goes in the trash, these go in the trash,” she explains. “But can you imagine if I kept the earrings? And then I’d have to, like, marry this guy!”
By the time she was 14, she thought her acting career was over. Though she received a Tony nomination at age 12 for the musical High Society, Kendrick wasn’t sure how to transition from kid roles into more mature roles. And thanks to a bitter drama teacher, she couldn’t even land a part in the high school play. “So I was like, ‘Oh, I’m a 14-year-old has-been.’ That was fun,” she recalls dryly.
She was cast in Up In the Air because of a movie nobody saw. Rocket Science, a 2007 comedy about a high school debate team, was director Jeffrey Blitz’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated documentary Spellbound. “Nobody saw that movie. But filmmakers saw that movie,” says Kendrick. Up In the Air director Jason Reitman wrote Kendrick’s role in the film — which earned her an Oscar nomination — based on her performance in Rocket Science as a competitive debater.
While shooting the sequel to Pitch Perfect, Kendrick found herself face-to-face with her uptight Twilight character Jessica. One of the locations for the Pitch Perfect 2 shoot was a house in Louisiana, where a family lived with their teenage daughter. While waiting to do a scene, Kendrick found herself in the girl’s room, which was covered floor-to-ceiling in Twilight pictures. “I was like, ‘This is maybe where I die,’” she jokes.
She’s on a lot of “celebrity freebie” lists. She tells Maron that she’s frequently approached — even on dates! — by men she doesn’t know, who tell her she’s on their list of five celebrities they’re “allowed” to sleep with. ”At first, it feels kind of very flattering. But at the same time, I feel like no one would go up to Jessica Biel and say that,” says Kendrick, who worries that her friendly image makes her too accessible.
She won’t be using her Top 10 single “When I’m Gone (Cups)” to launch a music career. “I would rather have one big accidental hit song than make a record,” says Kendrick, who sang the tune in Pitch Perfect. “I mean, I don’t write songs. It’s not for me.”
The clothes Kendrick wears in the movie Happy Christmas are her own. This year’s indie comedy, which co-starred Melanie Lynskey and Lena Dunham, was made on a budget of only $80,000. The movie was shot in director Joe Swanberg’s house, with Kendrick providing her own wardrobe and doing her own make-up.
Working with Meryl Streep taught her to look at the big picture. While filming an ensemble scene in Into the Woods, Kendrick noticed that Streep — who plays the Witch — would pay close attention to the whole cast, rather than focusing solely on her own performance. “She was always thinking about everything and everyone in that scene,” Kendrick says. “It’s easy to just think about what your job is…. When we were in the rehearsal process and blocking things out, she was very aware of every other character.”
Kendrick is not a triple threat. She can sing and act, but Kendrick says she’s not a good dancer. “Has anybody ever asked you, ‘If you could be the best at the world at something, but nobody could ever know about it [what would it be]?’” she asks Maron. “For sure, mine would be dancing,”
Photo credit: Everett
This post has been updated.