ANNA KENDRICK - SPUNKY SINCERITY
BY JAKE WELLINGTON
Anna Kendrick originally intended to spend her lifetime on Broadway— Successfully working in theater in her youth before making the career shift to film, at the young age of only thirteen, the petite talent was nominated for a Tony Award in ‘98 for her role as “Dinah” in the live show, “High Society” on Broadway, and her outstanding performance won her the Drama League and Theatre World Award. But Hollywood called to Kendrick when at the age of 18 she debuted in her first film, the 2003 musical, Camp, the first in a long series of movies in her future that would utilize the young actress’ singing abilities. Just a few years later, the petite, 5’ 2” talent with the girl-next-door appeal landed the supporting role in the 2008 movie, Twilight, which immediately attracted her attention as part of the international sensation that surrounded the teen vampire novels put to film known as “The Twilight Saga”, giving her the recurring role in sequels, New Moon (2009), Eclipse (2010), Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 2 (2011, 2012). Stepping away from the teen scene, Kendrick worked on the uniquely serious 2009 film, Up in the Air, in which she garnered a nod from the Academy for Best Supporting Actress with co-stars George Clooney and Netflix’s star mom of “Bates Motel”, Vera Farmiga (who also received a nomination in the same category). The more mature role for the tiny yet spunky Kendrick gave her the opportunity to show her acting abilities in her wonderful portrayal of the ice cold, young businesswoman who is hired to fire unwanted employees. Between the vamp sagas, the Portland, Maine-born sprite with a big voice was offered not just one musical to star in, but four. Almost unheard of in a time when very few big screen musicals had been made, the lighthearted yet straightforward actress born of English, Irish and Scottish heritage appeared in the 2012 enormous hit musical comedy, Pitch Perfect, starring opposite comedian Rebel Wilson, which seemed to spark the unique achievement of appearing in three more big screen musicals released within just six months of each other: the fairytale musical comedy, Into the Woods (Christmas 2014) starring opposite legendary actress Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Emily Blunt; The Last Five Years (Feb. 2015); and the sequel, Pitch Perfect 2 in May of the same year. And if the musical streak wasn’t unique enough already, Kendrick’s lovely voice can be heard in DreamWorks’ animated musical just released, Trolls, starring opposite pop icon, Justin Timberlake. And yes, for all the a capella fans out there, the Barden Bellas will return with Kendrick once again taking on the role of Beca, and Rebel Wilson joining her as Fat Amy, in the film musical sequel, Pitch Perfect 3, set to come out December of 2017. Between musical breaks, the singing actress took on a more serious role of a young C.P.A. working with a math savant, played by Ben Affleck in the action drama, The Accountant. Anna sat with us to talk about working on The Accountant. The tiny 31-year-old is sincere and wonderfully straightforward and open as she discussed her time working with Ben Affleck and the unique stylings of Director, Gavin O’Connor.
STRIPLV: Tell me what was intriguing about the script when they sent it to you?
KENDRICK: I think one of the things that I loved most about the script was what a puzzle it was. And it was one of those scripts that the second that you finish it you go back to the beginning and kind of re-read it. And I think that it’s such an exciting feeling when you learn so much and there’s so many twists throughout a script that you wanna go back from the beginning and go, like: “Oh, yeah, okay, so that’s why they were doing this, and that’s why he was motivated to do that.” And I think that speaks to the level of the intelligence of the script, like, something that keeps you guessing and keeps you on your toes is so exciting.
STRIPLV: Tell me a little about the character you play in the film.
KENDRICK: I play Dana, who is an accountant, and she notices some discrepancies in the books of this major corporation, and she brings that to the attention of some higher-ups. And she doesn’t realize at all, like, what exactly it is he’s uncovered, and this sort of mystery unravels, and then Ben Affleck’s character, Christian, shows up, and he kind of wants to keep her out of it for awhile, but she ends up in this mystery with him, and kind of getting more than she bargained for.
STRIPLV: Obviously the script has a lot of twists and turns in it, but what do you find special and unique about this movie? KENDRICK: I think one of the things that’s really special about it is the family element, like, it really speaks to, you know, the way that family affects us and who we’ve become because of our family. And on top of this kind of intrigue plot and all these action sequences, there’s this really compelling through-line about family and the bonds that family creates, and just how it shapes who you are and the life that you lead.
STRIPLV: Tell me, did you do any preparation to play this kind of accounting whiz, because Ben Affleck is a savant, but you can sort of match him, right?
KENDRICK: “Yeah, I definitely got the script and my first thought was: “I need to talk to my mom about this, because she is a C.P.A.” So even though it’s kind of…you know, it’s not against the rules, but it sort of would be frowned upon… I sent the script to my mom so that she could kind of talk me through everything. And I was, like, on the phone with her for a long time, scribbling notes. I just wanted to make sure that I knew what I was talking about... It wasn’t the kind of thing where I read the script and didn’t understand it. Like, you still completely get all the puzzle pieces, but I was like, if I’m gonna say some of this lingo, I should probably know what it means.
STRIPLV: That’s cool! You had your own in-house technical advisor standing by. What did you like most about the character itself, as far as like, it sounds like maybe you could bring a little bit more levity, with the seriousness on Ben’s side, that you could bring a little bit more spark to the relationship?
KENDRICK: Yeah, I think it was like one of those films where I was like: “Do I need to play this really serious? Am I gonna be allowed to have moments of levity?” And I think that I was really encouraged, because I think no matter how dramatic a film is or what the subject matter is, it’s always nice to have those moments where the audience is allowed to smile and break, and kind of acknowledge the absurdity of the situations. And I was really grateful that I was allowed to kind of flounder a little bit in some of the scenes and just like relish the humor of these two people who share this passion for math—like, just struggling to connect with one another, and doing it really poorly.
STRIPLV: Yes, tell us more about the relationship between Dana and Christian. They’re two very different people, but yet they find a common bond.
KENDRICK: Yeah, it’s really a sweet relationship, and the first few scenes that Dana and Chris have together are just that like, sweet, but painfully awkward problem of you know, the other one kind of assuming: “Oh, am I irritating you?” or: “No, no, no—I’ll go.” We had a lot of fun with those scenes. And then they really connect over working out this puzzle and this mystery together. And they both get really excited about it. So that was a really fun scene to shoot, like, just finding that common bond and getting excited over something—especially when it’s something that I could not get myself excited about at all...like, it’s numbers on a white board. But it was really fun to try to find that moment.
STRIPLV: What makes the film particularly entertaining is that there are these dualities to the characters. Everyone has like two different, distinct sides. Tell me how that applies to Dana and Chris.
KENDRICK: Well, I think Dana’s a really interesting character because, on that theme of family and how it shapes us, Chris’ father pushed him even though he was born and could’ve very easily been labeled as someone who can only ever achieve this much, his father pushed him to accomplish whatever he wanted, even though some of it is ethically questionable. He is obviously an extraordinary human. And Dana’s father told her, “Take the safe path. Don’t go to art school.” You know, “Just do what I did my whole life.” And so she’s kind of limited herself because of that. So Dana has these two sides to her where part of her wants to play it safe and not ruffle any feathers. But there’s another part of her that wants to know what is going on in her company, and a part of her that wants more and wants art to be in her life, and emotion to be in her life. And she’s kind of struggling between reaching for a connection and kind of letting herself have that knee-jerk reaction of like, ‘I’ll just shrink, and I’ll just limit myself,’ because that’s sort of how she was raised.
STRIPLV: Tell me about Gavin O’Connor. What’s he like as a director?
KENDRICK: When I met Gavin, especially having seen his film, Warrior, which is wonderful, Gavin immediately struck me as such a “guy’s guy.” And what’s fascinating about guys like that is that sometimes they are sort of… there’s a real reverence for their female characters, because there is an element of like: “I don’t really know what you might be feeling in this situation, so let’s talk about it and let’s discover it together,” because he doesn’t presume to know as much as some of the... like particularly the father/son relationships I think he feels very personally connected to. And that openness and that reverence that he has… I found myself like, oversharing with him, you know, which I think is a good sign when you meet someone, particularly a director, and you find yourself sharing like really personal things really quickly, I think that speaks to their ability to get you to open up and work with your emotions so… That was a meeting that I walked away from and was like: “That guy was good!” (chuckling) “I just told him a lot of stuff!”
STRIPLV: And how about working with Ben Affleck? This is an exciting role for him and he’s a super-smart guy. Was it fun working with him?
KENDRICK: Yeah, Ben really blew me away making this. He has such a filmmaker’s sensibility. So he’s such a great teammate, as well as being a great actor. He’s the kind of actor that makes everybody else’s life easier—which is great! And I was so impressed with the research he was doing, and there were a lot of moments and lines and nuances that are some of the best pieces in the film that he took directly from the research that he did.
STRIPLV: Why should people see this film? It sounds like it’s a really good, well-constructed thriller, I would say.
KENDRICK: Yeah, I always love a film that’s a bit of a mystery, and where you’re never sure what someone’s motivations are. It’s one of those movies that on the second viewing I had even more fun, because there are so many elements in play, and watching it for the second time, you really feel like: “Oh, I think I’m ahead of the game.” And then there are still twists that you forgot about. And it’s just nice when a movie is that layered and complicated, and keeps you guessing.