With a star turn in cult favourite Pitch Perfect, Anna Kendrick returns to the musical genre playing Cinderella in Disney’s latest endeavour, Into the Woods. We had the pleasure of sitting down with the talented actress to discuss her experience, where she raves about her time spent with British comedian James Corden, her thoughts on the music industry (expect swearing), while also commenting on Jennifer Aniston’s acclaimed turn in drama Cake.
So much. I really think it’s a very modern notion, and it’s something that modern women do to themselves especially, and God knows I do – which is, instead of trusting our instincts we think, well I should look at this from every possible angle, I should make a list of pros and cons, I should ask my friends, I should sleep on it… And we sort of self-sabotage in that way. So with Cinderella, instead of trusting her instincts which are clearly telling her ‘no you should not go to the Prince, a man you’ve had no conversations with at all and just marry him’ and she talks herself out and in to it, and eventually puts the ball back in his court. It’s actually only in the second half of the movie when she’s faced with something much greater, and more important than herself that it becomes very clear to her.
Can you relate to that?
Well I haven’t found myself in a life or death situation, making a decision on a relationship just yet, but yeah I think there absolutely moments of clarity when you are faced with something unexpected and it gives you this incredible perspective and it becomes very clear what you need to do.
So when deliberating over a part – who do you turn to?
Just the usual I guess, my agent, my friends. But again that’s one of those things I can talk myself into, or out of, and yeah there are times when I do just think, ‘what was my initial reaction?’ If I hadn’t been mulling it over for three weeks I may actually remember. So it would certainly be a goal of mine to trust my instincts more.
Did you get on with James Corden?
Oh, I’m obsessed with him. It’s sort of disgusting how funny he is, it makes you sort of angry he’s so sharp. He’s so talented. In the workshop he was so good but there was always the risk Disney might ask Rob to cast someone more well-known in America, but frankly there was nobody else for the job. I’ve never felt that someone was more suited to play a role, it’s a beautiful thing when you see the right person get the right part. Maybe more so than anybody else in the cast – he is perfect casting.
There’s a playful tone – were there any good pranks had on set?
No, but there was one day I remember Chris (Pine) and James (Corden) were complaining about their shoes and costumes being uncomfortable and Emily (Blunt) and I were not having it.
Was that because you were having to run down all these stairs in heels?
Honestly, when people ask if I sang live, well when running up and down stairs in a corset, there is really very little coming out. Just being in the heels and the corset, there were days when I had to keep telling myself, ‘it’s going to look great on screen, it’s going to look great on screen’. Oh, and my lovely dresser who looked after me on set- she was this lovely sweet girl and we had nice chats and got on really well. But then there would come that moment in the day when she was looking at me, and I’d be like, ‘don’t you fucking come over here’. And she’d be like, ‘it’s time’. But she was a sweet girl, but someone who was about to put you in pain. It was a complicated relationship.
With musicals, does it require more trust in the filmmaker than with other films? In a sense that, when you’re shooting it may not feel or look like what we eventually see in the finished product.
I dunno, with all of the directors I’ve worked with, I think Rob (Marshall) is the most committed to creating a world. If there doesn’t have to be a light in your eye-line, he won’t put it there. If you don’t have to look at a green tennis ball instead of another actor, he won’t make you do it. I agree there’s a ton of risk in falling flat on your face with a musical, the stakes are a bit higher than a traditional film, but Rob played the music as loud as he could. I had forgotten about this actually until I saw some behind-the-scenes footage, that when I’m running down the path at the castle, he was playing the score full volume at night, just for a running shot. So it always felt like we were in that world, it wasn’t one of those situations where it’s you and a green screen and a tennis ball that’s supposed to be a bird and you think ‘well, I hope I don’t look like an idiot’. Instead it was like, ‘I’m in fucking Into the Woods right now – this is awesome’.
You’ve had a hit single with Cups – any thoughts on making more music in the future?
Nope, because the music industry seems like a fucking nightmare.
More than Hollywood?
[Laughs] No, that’s what I’m saying! I work in movies and the music industry seems like a fucking mess.
In regards to future productions coming up, there’s Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston. There’s talk of an Oscar nomination – do you think she could go all the way and win Best Actress?
To be totally honest, I did press with her at Toronto and she was so modest about the preparation she did and the work she did on set, I almost wanted to snatch the mic from her and talk about what an incredible achievement she realised. There’s a scene on the train tracks, and thankfully she did her coverage first because it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to be crying in that scene, but I was losing my mind. I had my head turned to the side and tears were streaming down my face. There are times when you feel an actor has a gravitational pull and she had that on set. Sometimes, unfortunately, you feel somebody’s performance is so extraordinary and for whatever reason it doesn’t translate on screen, but hers completely did. I couldn’t have been more excited about the work I got to watch her do in person and then what I saw her do on screen. She was so committed, it was a pleasure to see her do something like that. Obviously I think of her like the ultimate American sweetheart and then when I worked with her, it was not what I expected. It was thrilling.
Has that happened before? To get caught up in a moment and cry in a scene?
Yeah that happened on 50/50. Joe Gordon-Levitt was so good it was hard to keep it together. Actually, watching Meryl (Streep) do Last Midnight too, she infused that with so much emotion which I think is really special because it’s hard to capture those nuances on stage. Watching Sondheim and Meryl Streep elevate each other, there were moments when I was very happy the camera was not on me.
Into the Woods is released on January 9th.