But, perhaps the only thing better than talking about Kendrick would be talking to Kendrick. Lucky for us, we had the opportunity to chat with the young starlet right after she finished filming Pitch Perfect 2. In fact, she jumped on the phone with us while hopping into a car to go from Baton Rouge, LA to Jackson, MS to start filming the family dramedy The Hollars with John Krasinski.
Kendrick's Chicago-made film Happy Christmas opened in theaters last week, so we got the scoop on her favorite Windy City memories, and chatted with her about starring as Cinderella in the upcoming Into the Woods. Forget being pitch perfect. Kendrick is perfect in every way possible.
You work with an incredible cast in Into the Woods (Editor's note: Think Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt). What was it like on the set?
"That was beyond incredible. There was a day that I was feeling really overwhelmed by how beautiful the surroundings were, just the scale of the production, and looking around at all these awesome people that I got to work with. Tracey Ullman said exactly the same thing to me, so I think that even for someone of her caliber, it was just this overwhelming blessing of an experience to be working at that level — and to also be making something that so many people might thing is esoteric. It's such a beautiful, thoughtful piece, that to be able to make it on that kind of big-budget scale was really a dream come true."
Seeing that you played Cinderella in the movie, were you into fairy tales as a kid?
"I guess I never really felt one way or another about fairy tales, but I was certainly surprised that I was going to play Cinderella because I would think that someone taller and a little more graceful would be playing the character. So, that was a little bit daunting. But, then I realized that's exactly what Rob Marshall wanted from me — to be a little bit softer and a little bit scrappier. That was a really exciting thing to be able to do with him; to take a fairy tale like that and put my weird energy into it."
What is your "weird energy?"
"I guess just a little uncertain and a little awkward — but also overthinking things. If anything, I would say that Rob's mantra to me was 'less head, more heart' because I tend to overthink things, and Cinderella tends to overthink things in this version. So, at a certain point we had to bring it back to being about her humanity."
Speaking of character development, your character in Happy Christmas is a young adult struggling to find herself. Could you relate since you're the same age?
"Yes, completely. I mean, I don't drink as much as Jenny, my character, does — even though I sort of pretend that I do. Like, I joke a lot about being drunk all the time because it's funny. I think people talk a lot about Jenny's drinking and her recklessness, but to me, the crux of her character is really her inability to apologize. It's not that she doesn't feel sorry, it's just that she's too embarrassed and prideful to even express the shame that she feels. Ultimately, she's so confident and so ashamed of herself that she has to kind of retreat back to feeling like she can just talk her way around an apology without ever really giving one. And, I think that's something that I struggle with, too. Being able to express myself directly, talking my way around it, and then expecting the other person to know what I'm feeling."
"Well, Joe Swanberg has lived in Chicago forever and is the city's biggest fan, so we went to lunch at a restaurant every day, which is completely unheard of. Most of the time, nobody wants you to leave the set, because I think they are afraid they are going to lose you or something. We got to go and have a beautiful lunch every day — we'd even have a beer. So, I feel like I've been all around the city. I can't remember specific places, but it was such a joy to be able to explore that and have a relaxed work environment with the cool boss who would let you have a drink with lunch."
Was there anything in particular that you noticed about Chicagoans?
"Well, this was sort of embarrassing, but my character, Jenny, in Happy Christmas says that she reads those 'sexy-time' books that they sell at drugstores and stuff, so there was a point where Joe specifically wanted it to be Fifty Shades of Grey. But, before we decided that it shouldn't be, I had to read Fifty Shades of Grey. So, I had to sit in a bar in Chicago and read the book. People kept coming up to me and asking me about it — I was so embarrassed — but they were so nice about it. It was mostly a bunch of old dudes who wanted to know what was going on in the book, so it was really funny."
What can fans expect from Pitch Perfect 2?
"It's definitely just bigger in every way. We had three cameras and a cable cam going every day. It's going to be like Transformers but with singing."
Will you have a new trick now that we all know cups? Juggling perhaps?
"Well, I sing less in this one because there is a new character and they are trying to set her up. So, I didn't get to do as much this time, but there's lots of great music."
How do you spend your downtime?
"I forgot what downtime is like! But, I am really going to make myself finally learn how to cook. It's like, I'm a grown-up, so I have to stop eating yogurt for dinner. I have this whole plan to cook tomato soup when I go home. That's going to be the first thing, so I'll let you know how it goes."
You told Glamour that "appearance has never been your moneymaker." You're pretty humble about your good looks. Why is that important to you?
"I don't know. I was surprised at how much attention that statement got. I didn't think that it was that big of a deal. It's not one of those things that I said as bait like a high school girl saying 'I'm so fat," hoping that someone will say 'No you're not! You're so skinny!' So, I was just trying to say that it's not like I'm worried about losing my looks or anything, because that's not what's been the most helpful thing for my career."
You've been known to tweet and Instagram about Beyoncé quite a bit. What is it about her that inspires you?
"I think the reason why a lot of women connect with her so much is because of the work ethic that she has. So, it's like the daily inspiration to push yourself. Obviously, I think that's an inspirational quality in whatever form it takes, but I think there's just something about the fact that she could totally just plateau if she wanted to and be fine for the rest of her life, and people would still love her. But, she just pushes herself the hardest she can every day. I don't know if I'm capable of that kind of commitment, but I'm going to push myself half that hard and see what happens."
What are some of your goals?
"I think musicians can have more of a plan for their trajectory, but I don't think that actors can really do that. It just sort of comes. It's a lot like climbing a mountain. Hopefully there are some interesting twists on the path along the way."