Pitch Perfect 3 Star Anna Kendrick on the Acting Bug, Breaking Down in Front of Bette Midler and Why the World Loves the Bellas
By AMY SPENCER
NOVEMBER 10, 2017
Only 12 when she was nominated for a Tony award for her role in Broadway’s High Society, Anna Kendrick, now 32, has worked her way onto the big screen in nearly every way. The Maine native broke through in the YA fantasy Twilight (2008) and co-starred alongside George Clooney in the drama Up in the Air (2009), for which she was nominated for an Oscar. But she reigned as a fan favorite in Pitch Perfect (2012) as Beca, an awkward college student with an angelic voice who joins an oddball mix of women in their a cappella singing group, the Bellas. Kendrick and her crooning crew will return in Pitch Perfect 3 (December 22), facing off against younger, hipper competition on their (possibly) farewell tour.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a doctor, because I think all little kids hear that doctors help people. And then, you know, you find out about medical school, and I was like, “That sounds like a lot of work.”
How old were you when you were bitten by the acting bug?
It’s hard to pinpoint. Some of my earliest memories are listening to Bette Midler, watching Newsies and going to see Little Shop of Horrors at a local high school when I was really young, and just thinking, Everyone onstage is so impossibly sophisticated and magical and talented. Bette Midler was a big influence—and I met her, finally, at the Tony awards this year. She was so gracious and so warm and kind to me. It was going so well, and then I was like “Thank you, Ms. Midler, for your time. I’m gonna just go…start crying.”
Were you in a singing group growing up?
I was in multiple choirs—simultaneously. I was in my school choir, my church choir and an outside choir that was just a girls’ choir.
What was your first public performance, musical or otherwise?
When I was around 5 or 6, I sang “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and I face-planted into the floor by the end of the number. I forgot the lyrics, and I decided just slowly getting down on the floor was my best course of action. I assume my mother has evidence somewhere, but we’re gonna keep that in a lockbox for as long as possible.
What were your Sundays like growing up?
There was a lot of listening to public radio after church. And football. And that distinct feeling of having your church tights on and you take them off when you get home—that was such a good feeling.
What are your Sundays like now?
I like to sit around on Sundays and watch Netflix. It’s usually a day before my next 4 a.m. call time, so my Sunday nights are spent in bed, trying to will myself to go to sleep really early, which just doesn’t work. Maybe I’ll be dozing by 10.
What’s your favorite hour of a Sunday?
I like when I accidentally wake up early. You know, if you wake up and the sun is still low in the sky. Instead of, “Oh, I need to be preparing for tomorrow’s workday,” you really have that sense that this time’s just for me. It feels like stolen time.
Having performed on Broadway and in front of movie cameras, do you ever still get butterflies?
Yeah! Even when we’re filming Pitch Perfect when we do the performances where there are hired extras in the audience? It feels like they’re really there to see us, so I get butterflies even then. And I’m like, “There’s literally no reason for me to be nervous. I’m at work, this is what I do every day!” I have to keep reminding myself, “These are my co-workers for the day. Even if they hate it, they’d still have to clap.”
Why do you think audiences can’t get enough of the Bellas?
I think people like watching a bunch of misfits from different walks of life come together and make a team. That comes through in our cast as well, because we are from different backgrounds, we’re all so diverse and we all have such different personalities.
Who makes you crack up the most on the Pitch Perfect set?
Everybody does, really. I did a couple of one-on-one scenes with Rebel [Wilson, who plays “Fat Amy”] in this one, and I definitely have those half-moon marks in my thighs when I’m digging into my skin, like, “Don’t you laugh!” And Esther Dean [who plays Cynthia Rose] is like an undercover comedian. She’s a stitch in between takes.
Your song “Cups” from the original Pitch Perfect was a bit of a hidden talent come to life—and that went triple-platinum. Did that surprise you?
It completely surprised me, especially considering we didn’t promote the song at all. When it was in the Top 10 Billboard chart, I was on the charts with, like, Macklemore and Miley Cyrus at the time. They must have been like, “What is this dumb song?”