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Though she is only 25 years old, Anna Kendrick has already made a huge impact on the film world. She’s acts in one of the biggest modern franchises, earned an Academy Award nomination for her stellar performance alongside George Clooney in Up In The Air and plays a role in one of this summer’s most critically lauded films. And her star is only going to grow bigger.
I was granted the opportunity to sit down with the actress, who plays Scott Pilgrim’s sister, Stacey, in Edgar Wright’s film to talk about the welcomed frustration that comes with working with Wright, her experience working in ensemble casts, and her upcoming film, Live With It.
How did you come to the project and were you familiar with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic series before hand?
I was not familiar but Edgar sent me the books in anticipation of meeting about the role, and I obviously just tore through them, they are just so fun to read. They were great as a reference point.
And how did Edgar contact you about the role?
He just got in touch with my agency after seeing a film I did called Rocket Science. My first meeting with Edgar was actually before I shot even the first Twilight movie. So I’ve been involved in this for a long time. [laughs]
If you look at Edgar Wright’s previous TV work/movie work, he has a very specific and unique vision. On set, is that something noticeable in the way he actually films it?
Oh yeah. It would be hard to miss for sure. He’s so specific to a point where you almost feel like you’re going crazy because it gets to a point where you are being sort of puppeteered by so many things. You’re turning your body on a certain word, and your chin goes down on a certain word, and your eyes go up on the next word, and you’re waiting, out of the corner of your eye for the camera man to finish that crash zoom so you can say the next word. At a certain point you’re sort of doing choreography to your own dialogue. It was really fun.
Was it like anything you’ve ever experienced before?
No, definitely not. At a certain point you kind of want to just knock something off the table because it takes a long time to get all the elements to line up and you just have to hope that the one time that they all line up you said your line correctly and hopefully in a funny way. There’s probably a lot of outtakes of me stomping off angrily because I didn’t flip my hair at the right time or whatever the direction was.
The movie has a lot of influence from comic books and video games. Before signing on did you have any interest in either of those worlds?
I can’t pretend to be a big gamer, but doing this movie and going to Comic Con and stuff and meeting Bryan definitely heightened my affection for comic books and Hope Larson, Bryan’s wife, gave me her book. It’s definitely made the world feel a lot more accessible, because at some point it feels overwhelming when you don’t have an entry point into that comic world. I haven’t read comics since I was little.
Scott Pilgrim is very much an ensemble film, and your other films, like Up In The Air and Twilight have some of those elements as well. Do you find that doing those kinds of projects help your method of acting?
On this it was so great to work with such an experienced cast. Not everybody in the cast is recognizable to your average person on the street, but I knew almost all of these actors before working with them. I’ve seen their independent films dating back to when they were in their teens. It was really exciting and they are so talented. It was great to see, especially the girls, just be so funny because so often in movies like this the girls are just pieces of furniture. And seeing how fun Alison Pill and Aubrey Plaza and Brie Larson, nobody’s a weak link.
You recently wrapped filming on the Seth Rogen-Joseph Gordon Levitt movie Live With It and you play a character named Katie. Can you talk a little bit about your character and the film?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a young man who gets cancer, and it’s actually based on the screenwriter’s real experience surviving cancer. I play his social worker who is very, very sweet and has the best intentions, but is really new and doesn’t know what she’s doing. She is trying to help but it’s pretty vulnerable and, I think, in a way Joe’s character is more helpful to her than she is to him.
For the longest time the movie was known as the Untitled Cancer Comedy, but at the same time cancer isn’t something that is generally associated with laughter. Is there a line drawn between the comedy and drama in the film?
I think it definitely blends it, but Will Reiser, our writer, is just a really funny guy and Seth Rogen was his best friend and essentially plays himself in the movie. If you’re a funny person and you have funny friends, you’re still going to have humor in your life. This sad thing can happen, but you’re going to be able to see the humor in a lot of these situations. There’s a kind of realism in that. It’s not a like a heightened comedy, it’s not like a spoof by any means. There’s almost more of a realism to it than a real melodrama. You kind of get to see what this guy went through and where he found humor and the parts that he didn’t.