Anna Kendrick: interview

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As her new film ‘Up in the Air’ arrives in cinemas, Anna Kendrick talks about dealing with George Clooney, ‘Twilight’ mania and the importance of having abusive friends

With her performance in credit crunch comedy ‘Up in the Air’ sparking Oscar buzz and a Golden Globe nomination, a new ‘Twilight’ movie in the works and a supporting role in Edgar Wright’s forthcoming ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’, 24-year-old Anna Kendrick is one of 2010’s names to watch. Just don’t call her a star.

Did ‘Up in the Air’ appeal to you as a way of breaking out of the teen-movie ghetto?
‘It’s the first time I’ve played my own age, which was pretty exciting. I’ve played high-school kids my whole life, this time I felt like I was sitting at the grown-ups’ table. And I love strong female characters. It’s a pretty rare thing to find a part this well rounded for a young woman.’

What did you like about your character, Natalie?
‘I loved that she had her own story. She didn’t exist to romanticise a storyline, to enhance another male character. She has her own problems, her own mistakes to figure out. And you don’t often see female characters in this age range who aren’t sexualised, even if they aren’t the romantic interest. She could just as easily have been a man.’

Do you see yourself in her?
‘I think she’s pretty frustrated by the fact that she was born female – she sees that as a handicap. She spends her life trying to prove that she’s tough enough, that she can be one of the boys. Her way of doing that is to take the hardest job going, just to prove she can do it. I can relate to that frustration.’

How did ‘Up in the Air’ differ from your experience on ‘Twilight’?
‘You can relax more when you’re playing a silly character than when you’re playing a really rigid character. But to be fair, I think George Clooney is a bigger teenager than any of the “Twilight” cast. He’s the guy throwing a football at your head and then hiding around the corner, pretending it wasn’t him!’

Did you find yourself getting into character and snapping at him?
‘I snap at him anyway! I think he likes it. But ultimately he’s a really good person, he has no interest in hurting anybody. He didn’t pull any serious pranks on me until he realised I could give it out as good as I could take it. Then we teased each other non-stop.’

How was your working relationship?
‘It was great. George is infuriatingly perfect. He never slips up, he’s on time for everybody. Even when you think he might be having a bad day, he doesn’t show it. He gave me hope that you can do this job for a long time and maintain some level of sanity.’

You’re clearly more interested in being an actress than a celebrity…
‘It’s a delicate balance. My goal all along has just been to work and support myself. I’ve been really lucky to walk away from the “Twilight” series unscathed. Somebody asked me recently what it’s like to be a star. I thought that was the strangest question. If you saw my day-to-day life, the word “star” just doesn’t apply.’

Who’s the craziest ‘Twilight’ fan you’ve encountered?
‘I was in Vancouver. A girl came up to me, asked me if I was in “Twilight”, and asked me when I would next see Taylor Lautner. She seemed really anxious. She said she had something for him in her bag – obviously she walked around with it just in case she ran into a cast member. I was afraid it was going to be a severed head or something! I figured if I took it I would have a responsibility to give it to Taylor. I didn’t want him to think I was insane. But I still wonder what was in there.’

Were you ever a fangirl?
‘I camped out for tickets when The Strokes came to my hometown. I was in the front row, just staring Julian Casablancas down like a weirdo. The one time our eyes met I thought I was gonna explode!’

What can you tell us about ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’?
‘It was challenging but fun. Working with Edgar Wright was great, because nobody wants to see the completed movie more than he does. It’s like having your own personal cheerleader on set. He was like a kid in a candy store.’

How do you keep a level head with all this talk of Oscars?
‘Luckily, I’m surrounded by friends who treat me like an asshole. They put me in my place, so I’m not too worried. I’m really happy about the Golden Globes, but people bring it up so much, I feel like I’m being set up for disappointment. I’m just trying to be appreciative of what’s going on, not worrying about what might or might not happen. And there’s still that part of me that got teased in middle school, always there to remind me that I’m still the same person I always was.’

Read our review of ‘Up in the Air'

‘Twilight: Eclipse’ and ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ open in summer 2010.

Author: Tom Huddleston



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