Anna Kendrick will get her chance to shine this weekend when her latest film Up in the Air hits theaters in limited release. It’s a dramedy that’s written and directed by Jason Reitman, and co-stars George Clooney and Vera Farmiga. As a Hollywood newbie, the past two years have been a whirlwind of success for the actress. She landed a part in the vampire phenomenon that is The Twilight Saga, as well as a starring role opposite Clooney, what more could a girl ask for?
We recently spoke to Kendrick about her part in Up in the Air and she discussed the differences between working on a teen centered franchise like Twilight and an adult themed indie drama. With a background in musical theater the young actress from Maine reveals to us how working on Up in the Air gave her the chance to play at “the grown ups table.”
Check out our interview below…
Even before Kendrick got her big break starring as vapid Jessica in Twilight she was a theatrical pro. She’s the second youngest actress to be nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in the play High Society, and we wanted to know if it was difficult making the transition from a successful stage actress to working in film.
I actually got really lucky there, the first film I ever did was a film called Camp, which happened to be about kids in musical theater. The director came from the Broadway world and all the actors came from a theater background. We were all non-union so every single person was showing up to set with the same kind of ‘What does that do? Why do I have to stand here? Why do I have to look there?’ That made it a really safe environment to kind of ask questions and figure out what the hell was going on.
On how she landed her gig in Up in the Air…
I just got the script from my agency and was told to go in and read for it and I fell in love with the script, it’s so beautiful. I went in and read for Jason [Reitman] and I was in the room for about 10 minutes, and I thought I blew it. Then I got offered the job after one audition, which confused the hell out of me. Jason told me that he had started writing Natalie with me in mind after seeing Rocket Science, which is a film I did a couple of years ago.
Coming from such a humble beginning, you’d thing it would be a shock to have so much face time with George Clooney in a feature film. Kendrick tried to keep a cool head when word spread that the Oscar winning actor might be her future co-worker.
Jason was telling me all about how excited George was to do it and I was, you know, trying to play it really cool. Like, ‘Of course I’m going to be working with George Clooney everyday, why wouldn’t I?”
Up in the Air and Twilight are based on novels of the same name. In Kendrick’s case she decided to stay away from the source material, which ended up helping her portrayal of both characters.
[Regarding Up in the Air] I’m not in the book at all. I totally realize that you would have basically spent an entire movie watching George Clooney’s face with his inner monologue. In a way I kind of act as something that’s forcing him to explain himself and explain his philosophy of life. I just tried to challenge him as much as I could in order to kind of justify that.
As for her role as Jessica in Twilight…
With Twilight I didn’t read the books until after I was cast and I was kind of glad that I didn’t because Jessica’s so traditionally catty in the novels. When I auditioned I just kind of figured the only believable way for somebody like me to be pretending that she’s the most popular girl, or she’s the queen bee is to play up how needy that is, and how desperate that actually is. I think that’s what they liked about it, and what made it funny. I’m glad that I didn’t read the novels beforehand.
It must be an interesting dynamic to jump from one end of the movie spectrum to another. Not just in terms of genre, but the entire filmmaking style of Jason Reitman strongly contrasts with anything you’d find on the set of Twilight. The actress actually enjoyed the differences between the two projects, which she filmed simultaneously.
I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I’m a part of this thing that is such a big deal to a lot of people but then I completely recognize that I don’t play a very instrumental part of. Then I got to go and play at the grown ups table, and act as though I wasn’t completely out of my league. It was nice to even shoot them at the same time, people have asked if that was challenging but I liked shooting them at the same time because it meant that I kind of got to leave the rigid Natalie world and play this incredibly vacuous high school girl for a couple of days and then go back into Natalie mode.
Speaking of her Natalie mode, the character is somewhat of a control freak and has a plan for everything. We wanted to know if Kendrick shared any of the same goals or theories about life that her alter ego does.
I’m sure that I have a lot of silly and unrealistic expectations for lots of things but love is not one of those things. I certainly never expected to be married with a baby at 23, and I don’t have those really specific ideas about love but there’s something about Natalie’s specificity that I really love. [I] sort of cherish that she knows what she wants and she’s almost embarrassingly unapologetic about it.
Up in the Air hits theaters on December 4, 2009 in limited release and December 25th nationwide.