/Film Interview: Anna Kendrick Talks ‘Into the Woods,’ Disney, Filmmaking and ‘Pitch Perfect’ Plot Holes
Posted on Friday, December 26th, 2014 by Germain Lussier
When offered the chance to interview Anna Kendrick, I didn’t hesitate. Year after year, Kendrick proves herself to be one of the most fun and interesting people in Hollywood, jumping between big-budget blockbusters and small independent films. She’s also becoming increasingly popular due to her Twitter feed, which is filled with the kinds of humor you and your friends share in private rather than in public. It seems pretty obvious that Kendrick, with one Oscar nomination already, is well on her way to becoming one of our generation’s “It” actresses.
Her latest film is Rob Marshall‘s massive Disney musical Into the Woods, based on the Tony award winning musical by Stephen Sondheim. It’s classic Broadway fare, mixed with familiar fairy tales and a whole new story that is sure to make audiences reimagine some of their favorite characters of all time.
Kendrick plays Cinderella in the film, but this is not the Cinderella you know – or the one you are likely to see next year in another Disney film. We talked about that, as well the way she’s navigating her career, Disney in general, that Twitter feed and even a burning Pitch Perfect question I’ve had since the film’s original release. Below, read our Anna Kendrick interview.
/Film: So as a longtime musical fan and a Sondheim fan, what are your first memories of Into the Woods?
Anna Kendrick: I saw the Bernadette [Peters] VHS tape I think when I was about 10. And I remember thinking that the first act was the end of the show. As, you know, many people before me have done. And then being both upset by and really engaged in the second act. Because for a 10 year old, a happy ending is sort of easier to process. But then it’s really exciting to see the idea of situations being complicated and I found that… really rewarding I guess? So it was like the funniest combination of being really challenged and sort of really compelled by the material in the second act.
This version of Cinderella is not the Disney Cinderella most people think of. Did you discuss that while putting the film together? (Or the fact they’re probably going to be a showing another Cinderella trailer in front of this movie?)
Oh, are they gonna show the trailer?
I would imagine, it’s the next big Disney movie, right?
Yeah, I guess you’re right. I mean, we didn’t really. The only time it ever even came up was making sure we didn’t do a blue dress. You know, which is barely anything because obviously the idea of Cinderella’s dress in this comes from the willow tree. The idea that it’s sort of made of the material in the willow tree. And, I mean, discussing Cinderella being different as though we were making a Cinderella movie and making her this very different Cinderella never really happened because it’s Sondheim’s Cinderella. It’s existed since 1987 and we really approached her more as a character than a subversion of the Cinderella story.
I’m sure that James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim have talked about that in 1985 or whatever. But this was really just, we were focusing on “What is her journey?” “What is she going through?” “What does she want moment to moment?” As opposed to sort of detailed discussions about the idea of turning Cinderella on her head or something. It’s one of those things that I really didn’t think about until I started doing press and people kept asking me about like “How does it feel to be a different Cinderella?” And I’m like “I’m Sondheim’s Cinderella.” I didn’t even bother to think about it that way I guess.
Okay, so Disney means so many things. First it was classic animation, now it’s also the home of Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. Was there anything about this movie being Disney that attracted you to it? And what are sort of your thoughts on Disney in general?
Gosh, I mean… Between Rob Marshall and Meryl Streep and Stephen Sondheim, Disney just doesn’t even compare. You know, Disney didn’t even enter my brain. I mean, I guess I did think it was really brave of them to explore fairy tales that people think of as being Disney products and allowing us to tell this particular story with those characters. But… Yeah, I mean, there wasn’t much about it being Disney that I had big feelings about one way or the other. Which I guess is good, because I didn’t even feel that when we were making it. I never felt like Disney’s presence or shadow or grip or something, you know? It absolutely never felt like they were asking us to change things or omit things. So… I don’t even really think of it as a Disney movie now, let alone then.
Through your career, you’ve done a great job of jumping back and forth between that big and small projects. How do you pick projects? Do you sort of think about, you know, “I’ve done like four musical things in a row” or “I don’t wanna be in a vampire movie again?”
[Laughing] Clearly I don’t.
So is it strictly a script-character thing? Do you sort of think in terms of bigger picture?
Yeah, I mean, people have asked me for years about “What the plan is?” and I am still trying to come up with one. It’s basically just like I get phone calls about making movies and I get excited every time. You know, assuming it’s not a piece of crap. And sometimes you have to make a couple pieces of crap. You have to live your life and go through it. So the idea of being so precious about what films you do has never made much sense to me, because you’re always gonna win some and lose some. So, I mean, I’m all about kind of just diving headfirst into the next thing and trying to be fully committed to that each time I take something on. So… Yeah, I mean, I keep feeling like I should probably start thinking about what the grand plan is, but I just like making movies.