Anna Kendrick On Singing, Being Awkward And Trying To Stay Grounded In Hollywood...

Anna Kendrick On Singing, Being Awkward And Trying To Stay Grounded In Hollywood...

She was the eye-rolling outsider in Pitch Perfect and turned a teen flick into a cult must-see. With a string of upcoming movies, Anna Kendrick gives out on cynicism, sleeping and why singing is the best...

For the November issue, Team InStyle jetted off to LA to shoot the fabulous, and always hilarious, Anna Kendrick. Here's what happened when we sent journalist and self-confessed Anna fanatic Eve Barlow to meet her post InStyle shoot...

All-acting, all-singing, all-dancing Anna Kendrick lives practically on top of the Hollywood sign; not because she’s so LA, but because she needs to sleep for the maximum time possible. She sneaks in to her local diner so fast she walks straight past me. Pivoting on her axis, she takes a seat in our booth, removes her sunglasses, hair tied back, make-up-less, in a soft grey T-shirt, and orders a fruit plate. ‘I made you come here selfishly. I was literally in bed three minutes ago. You told my publicist you were sitting after the bar so I kept going.’ She cracks a smile. This is Kendrick’s sense of humour. Unhinged, cutting and accompanied by slightly narrowed eyes. She likes to keep you on your toes. She’s always on hers, after all.

Last year, Kendrick turned 30 and currently has four movies in the pipeline. She’s also putting out an essay collection titled Scrappy Little Nobody. Between this month’s DreamWorks animation Trolls, in which she voices lead troll princess Poppy, summer comedy Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates and action thriller The Accountant, Kendrick’s year reflects her varied trajectory over the past decade. Breaking through via 2008’s Twilight (such an unlikely success as a movie that ‘the first one didn’t even have a wrap party’), she scored a second equally non-traditional franchise in Pitch Perfect (2012), rendering her every little girl’s idol. Beneath that piercingly high voice, however, lies an acerbic cool factor that chimes with adults, too. Despite already receiving an Oscar nomination for Up In The Air in 2010, she chose to keep her feet largely in musical comedy. Off-screen, she’s a sharp-tongued, Twitter-terrorising, slightly off-brand all-American girl, who falls just shy of freaking out Middle America. ‘You guys wore me out on the photo shoot yesterday. It was like, fucking barren out there in the desert. If I hadn’t been prancing around in expensive clothes, I’d have felt like I’d been camping.’

Do you enjoy photo shoots?
‘I never know what I’m doing, so I stave off madness by channelling characters from fantasy franchises. So yesterday, I was acting like a drunk Galadriel from Lord Of The Rings, shouting [adopts Cate Blanchett voice]: “In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen… Treacherous as the Seas…” And the photographer was like, “Stop talking, let’s take a picture”.’

That’s one good way to deal with any feelings of self-consciousness…
‘Yes. When on camera, pretend you’re an Elven wizard. I’ve got that classic American female thing of feeling totally great [about my body] and then hating myself. It comes in waves. Usually those waves last five to seven seconds.’

With so many movies out in 2016, how is your time management?
‘Bad. My life has been falling apart for four years. I had some accidental time off, so I’ve been enjoying opening my mail, seeing my friends, sleeping in my own bed. I’m a champion sleeper. Also, I organised my garage and it made me so happy that I felt like I was on drugs. I built industrial shelving, bought tubs from Ikea, put my Christmas decorations in clear containers so I can see them… I feel like I’m on drugs just talking about it now.’

Lots of movies equals lots of red carpets. How do you prepare for them?
‘You know, I’m trying to rein in my workaholism because I don’t think people really want six movies a year from me! My crew try to do all-day fittings, like a giant outfits marathon. I wish I had the balls to be Chloë Sevigny and not give a shit what E! News thinks. When I try on a Marni dress, I love it and then go, “But I’m just gonna get assassinated if I wear that…”’

It would be amazing if you showed up to the premiere of Trolls with sky-high troll hair…
‘They pitched that to me for Comic-Con and I was on board. Like an animated drag queen situation? Dope. That’s my dream actually.’

Your on-screen troll Poppy is an all-singing progressive princess who wants to save her friends from evil. Did you collect trolls growing up?
‘I didn’t collect them per se, but I had trolls. I brushed their hair with Barbie brushes. I had a complicated relationship with my Barbies. I would melt them in the sun with magnifying glasses. Trolls are that ugly-cute thing. Like a pug dog, you know? So ugly, but you love them.’

You star opposite Justin Timberlake. Do you find it annoying that he’s great at everything?
‘Yeah. It’s really annoying when you’ve heard your demo track of a song and it sounds totally fine, then you hear his and you realise you should probably go home. Vocally, he’s not fucking around.’

At 31, you’re almost already a screen legend because you have such a wealth of material built-up over the years. You proved early on that you could do serious movies with Up In The Air, and now you have the freedom to jump into goofball comedies. It’s an atypical trajectory…
‘I thought you were going to say, “Because you’re just so full of wisdom and grace.” I had a realisation early on that some of these comedies are going to be for the next generation what Tommy Boy was to me. The only reason my brother and I knew how to communicate when we were growing up was through that movie, y’know? That felt like a more daunting prospect than something like Up In The Air. I’m not slumming it in comedy, it’s the opposite.’

You’ve been able to work with so many great actors. Meryl Streep, for instance…
‘Meryl and George Clooney [Up In The Air] are so good [at acting], better than they need to be, and both so normal. I’ve worked with a lot of famous actors who look batshit crazy compared to George and Meryl. They’re all living on another planet.’

Do you feel pressure to be funny?
‘No, and I’m also so grateful I don’t have to do the Miss America thing when I meet fans, like “Believe in your dreams!”, or “It was a dream to meet you!” I don’t know how to do that. I’m unstoppably awkward. That’s why I’m so bad in the post office. Am I in the wrong line? Did I fill out the wrong thing? I practise what I’m going to say before I go in.’

At 12, you were the second youngest actor to be nominated for a Tony for your role in High Society on Broadway. Were you socially ostracised as a kid because of early success?
‘There was part of my 12-year-old brain that hoped it made me cool and part that thought it made me a target. Any time   anybody spoke to me, I assumed they were making fun of me,
so it’s hard to be objective. Everybody comes out of middle school thinking they got picked on.’

Does it help develop your sense of humour to feel a bit of outsiderdom?
‘Yeah, well-adjusted people are rarely funny. My dad has that black Irish humour, which was a big part of it. He took the family to see [play] The Beauty Queen Of Leenane, and my brother and I loved it. My mum looked at us and went, “You’re a bunch of sickos, that is not funny. It’s dark and sad!” So yeah, I see humour in eternal abuse.’

In Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates, you co-star alongside your best friend, Aubrey Plaza. It’s about two girls who accept an invitation to be two brothers’ [Zac Efron and Adam Devine] dates at a wedding in Hawaii. You wreak havoc. Are you a similarly terrible twosome in real life?
‘Well, we went to Mexico on a whim once, but we didn’t ruin any lives. We did meet a couple of Mormons, who we were hoping to cause some trouble with, but then their parents were with them and that crosses a line of moral acceptability. Aubrey and I went into Mike And Dave very excited to mess some people up. [Laughs] There was a day when I had to improv and stick my fingers in Zac Efron’s mouth. A memory I feel both proud and ashamed of.’

You’ve been in so many musical films: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, Pitch Perfect, Into The Woods. You’ve done the unthinkable – you made musicals hip! Do you sing all the time?
‘All the time. Cannot be stopped. Bring on an army, I will still be singing! I don’t worry about whether or not people think my movies are cool. If people think musicals are lame, it’s hard to change that. It’s hard to disestablish something as being lame. You know though, Keanu Reeves has managed it, so good for him.’

You’ve avoided the trappings of young Hollywood. How have you remained grounded?
‘My close friends are the same ones I had when I first moved to LA, who were totally cool with me being some unemployed, aspiring actress. So you keep them. The only thing that bums me out about fame is when I notice a behaviour I have that I wouldn’t have if I was in a different profession. Like when I went to Ikea to get the bins for my garage? I was cowering behind DIY shelving in a baseball cap as a family walked by. I don’t know if that’s cool, but it’s something I do.’

Your first book is out in November. How do you feel about it?
‘Nervous to be doing something alone. A publisher mentioned the Vogue piece I wrote [an Oscars diary in 2014] so I was like, “Oh if you’re cool with that I guess I could just make that 200 pages!” I kept expecting little elves to tell me how to write a book. I did go a little crazy, but eventually it came out of my brain.’

People love your tweets. I particularly enjoyed, ‘I’ve always heard that Tom Cruise is tirelessly positive and upbeat and I’d love to work with him one day. I think I could break him’
‘I don’t mean that I could be so cruel that I would break him. I’m just a pessimist. Being around me induces cynicism in others. That’s my hope, at least.’

There are some ridiculous rumours about you online, including ‘Anna Kendrick apparently loves pineapples’, which is obviously true because you’re eating pineapple right now.
[Clapping] ‘That’s a whole article? I embrace LA’s clean food and exercise culture in the way that I embrace making my bed every day, i.e I don’t. The clean-eating thing is great and I feel smug about myself for five days maximum. Every single time I think, “This is it, this is the last time I’ll fall off the wagon.” Moments later, I’m eating In-N-Out [burgers] in my car.’

You’re a massive Game Of Thrones enthusiast. What do you want for the future series?
‘I just want people to stop fucking dying! The trouble is, it’s so delicious when things are going badly.’

You turned 30 last year. What’s changed?
‘There’s no such thing as a 30-year-old girl. Maybe a 28-year-old girl, but not 30. There’s a security in that, which is incredibly arbitrary and stupid. But as someone who can be in a room with people who don’t take me seriously as often as I would like, it’s nice to be able to tell them: “I believe the term is ‘woman’ now”.’

Why do you feel like you’re not taken seriously?
As women we’re trained to think that our feelings are not legitimate, right? Whether it’s blatant sexism or jokes on the internet about how we only wanna be listened to, we don’t want our boyfriends to try and solve all of our problems etc… The logic is always that if you just let your boyfriend help you, it’ll be okay. The implication is that we haven’t thought of all the possible solutions. Something about turning 30 makes you feel one step closer to being assured in your own feelings. Wow. I feel really strong. What a great note to end this on.’   

Trolls is in cinemas from 21 October.

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