Anna Kendrick is a movie star who just doesn’t want to play the part.
She is the Oscar-nominated co-star of Up In The Air, a member of the huge young adult Pitch Perfect and Twilight movie franchises. She’s a tiny woman with a big singing voice, an innocent face with a salty mouth.
And she’s not taking any of this celebrity stuff too seriously.
The other day, Kendrick was on the phone from Chicago, a stop on a promotional tour for her new book of essays, Scrappy Little Nobody (Touchstone, Nov 15). It has been its own kind of relief for her – and any of her fans disappointed by the recent US Presidential election results.
“I am seeing this great nation at a great time,” Kendrick says. “I am glad for everybody, and I am a glad for me, that sometimes the impulse is to laugh after something crappy happens.
“That makes my job a lot easier.”
Still, Kendrick couldn’t believe that her Seattle appearance is sold out.
“It is surprising to me that anyone would pay their hard-earned dollars just to listen to me talk,” she says.
Kendrick, 31, has 5.8 million followers on Twitter – something that the publishing world noticed a couple of years ago, and wanted to make the most of. Obviously.
“I never took it that seriously,” Kendrick says of writing the book. “But during the whole process I was surrounded by women who I found inspiring – and intimidating. That was the only reason I decided to follow through.”
Kendrick writes like she just sat down beside you, dumped her purse, ordered a drink and launched into a great story starring her, sure – but she is often a newbie, a wisecracking bumbler.
She may be in a luxury hotel or on a movie set, but Kendrick can always be counted on doing something – for lack of a better word – human.
She showed up on the set of Twilight after the rest of the cast – including leads Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson – had been enduring the cold and rain for several weeks.
“I was the idiot greenhorn,” she writes, “showing up, like ‘Hey, bros! Who’s amped up to get in there and rip it up?’” Kellan Lutz would have strangled her, had he the energy, she writes. Kristen Stewart was friendly, “But I could tell she was putting her back into it.”
In another essay, Kendrick writes about performing and presenting at last year’s Academy Awards, which sounds stunningly star-studded.
She overthrew her Cinderella shoe in the opening number with Neil Patrick Harris. Then when she got to the private plane she was taking back to the Atlanta set of The Accountant, she was late – co-star Ben Affleck was already on board in a T-shirt and jeans. She had to ask the pilot to cut her out of her designer dress with a nail file.
And while Kendrick has graced the covers of plenty of magazines, it wasn’t pretty getting there. One photographer told her to relax her shoulders 21 times. (“I always thought my shoulders were fine,” she writes.) Another photographer for a men’s magazine asked, “Can we lose the bra?” When he spotted her glancing at the monitor, he said, “Don’t worry, we’ll slim out your legs.” (“I always thought my legs were fine,” she writes.)
On walking the red carpet past a line of photographers: “You must maintain your smile through it, though. You cannot give any indication that a hundred people are shouting at you like drowning victims begging for a lifeboat.”
In other words, it ain’t all that it seems.
Kendrick tracks her life and career up to this point: She was raised in Maine and was nominated for a Tony Award at 12 for her role in the Broadway production of High Society. She was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009 for her role opposite George Clooney in Up In The Air.
But she’s also been rejected by men, scorched by fashion snobs, and followed through Ikea by a paparazzo. The book tells it all, with honesty, a sense of humour, total recall and vulnerability.
In one essay, Kendrick writes about a girl named Tori. A childhood frenemy who got away with everything, got under Kendrick’s grade-school skin and stayed there.
Now that she’s a movie star and presumably able to shop at fancier places than Ikea (she was buying throw pillows), maybe she’s feeling a little karmic payback?
“I doubt very much that some of those early characters in my life remember those things happening at all,” Kendrick says. “The things that stick with you are sometimes so arbitrary, I wonder if she remembers those things at all.
“All you can do is wish that you are not somebody’s Tori.”
That – and laugh as much as possible, she says.
So buy her book, “because hopefully, it will make people laugh,” Kendrick says.
“And because I have a gambling problem.” – The Seattle Times/Tribune News Service/Nicole Brodeur