Her current projects continue in this multifaceted vein. In addition to The Last 5 Years, Anna played Cinderella alongside legend Meryl Streep in the big-budget Christmas release Into The Woods. While that’s a massive studio tent-pole movie, Anna has proven as big a presence at Sundance as she is on multiplex screens. Taking supporting roles and leads alike, she can be found lifting up films that span the shamelessly commercial to obscure film-fest faves. 2015 finds her reprising the character Beca Mitchell for the sequel to Pitch Perfect. It’s perhaps her most beloved role, and certainly most viral, thanks to a music video of her handclappy cover of Lulu and the Lampshades’s “Cups” that became a global YouTube sensation and, eventually, a massive hit single. Yet, her other films this year slant decidedly more art house: from the John Krasinski-directed The Hollars to Cake, in which she appears in hallucinations of protagonist Jennifer Aniston as a suicide victim, to a no-budget project with Generation Y auteur Joe Swanberg, they are wholly indie.
The breadth of Anna’s shapeshifting choices leads to a varied audience who identify with her many characters. “If you’re over 30, you loved Up in the Air,” Anna explains with a chuckle, settling in to a leather sofa following her shoot with Rankin at a Hollywood photo studio. “Under 30, and you’re asking for a picture and squealing because you loved Twilight so much. And if you’re a drag queen, you come up to me in line at the grocery store and make my month by saying, ‘I just want you to know that every Saturday at Micky’s I play your character from Camp!’”
Up close and personal, one gets why internet trolls debate endlessly on how Anna is “approachably hot”. In the flesh and on screen, she exhibits a quixotically contradictory blend of attributes. While she has all the ingredients of a glamorous beauty (porcelain skin, striking, diamond-cut features, a rebel without a flaw), she comes off as an utterly normal human being, with her disarmingly casual, slightly detached manner. She’s also hyper self-deprecating about her diminutive stature: “You’re the first person to notice I’m really small,” she says upon meeting, and continues to self-deprecate about her size throughout our hour-plus chat. Clearly, Anna demonstrates the quality that marks her as no simple ingénue; there’s something withheld that keeps the viewer yearning to uncover what’s going on behind her intensely lucid eyes.
This quality carries over to conversation, too. She is so breezy and funny that she naturally makes even a pointed barb feel like a kiss. Her wit is also evident in her artful social-media presence; millions follow the banter-y missives that appear on her Twitter account (typical post: “Ugh – NEVER going to a Ryan Gosling movie in a theater again. Apparently masturbating in the back row is still considered ‘inappropriate.’”) Exploring the ongoing memes of Anna’s career to date, along with her personality, reveals both the complexities of young Hollywood now and her integrity, as well as the reasons behind her “unlikely trajectory towards world domination”. “It’s not a traditional path,” she says, “but I’m getting there!”
Hunger: You’ve been a part of many films that have become pop culture phenomena, which we’ve only come to experience in the internet age. What is it really like, from the inside, to be a part of something like the Twilight sensation?
Anna Kendrick: None of us had any idea Twilight was going to turn out how it did. I’m not bullshitting! The best example I can give to prove this is that we had to organise our own wrap party. Nobody from Summit [the studio that produced the film] had anything to do with organising it. Once we were all back in LA, somebody was like, “Oh, we should probably all get together or something.” Someone had a friend who worked for a hotel, and they gave us a space to have our little wrap party. There was no press there, either — they didn’t care. When I first got cast in Twilight, I was super happy just to have a job. It was a supporting role, but I didn’t care about that. What I did care about was that it marked the first time I ever got paid more than the [Screen Actors Guild’s union-mandated] minimum. But it wasn’t a lot more.