Gofobo Interview: ParaNorman's Anna Kendrick
Gofobo: How much fun was it playing a dominating older sister role?
Anna Kendrick: This was a great first experience doing something like this. To play someone so volatile and sort of a force of nature in the way that only a pink sweatsuit student teenager can be. It was great to go into the recording studio and just kind of make a fool of myself. I think it's a huge undertaking to play someone like Norman and to have to kind of carry the emotional story of the movie and it was great and act like a complete ass and have that be my job for awhile.
Q: Were you nervous?
Anna Kendrick: I was definitely nervous going into it cause I've always wanted to do it. I've always wanted to try it, but I'd never done it before and since they just offered it to me, I didn't audition, I was worried that I was going to show up and they would be like 'Oh you don't know what you're doing. You're bad at this.' But I think that kind of fear just makes you work harder so it was probably a good attitude to have going into it.
Q: The sessions were by yourself?
Anna Kendrick: My first session was actually with Casey Affleck, which was great because we were starting out together and being kind of nervous and learning the process together, but by the end of the day we felt a little competitive with each other so we were doing all the vocalization at the end of the day, all of the grunting and screaming, and it felt like 'I can make a fool of myself. What have you got?' So it became like the stupidest looking competition.
Q: Did you see the film and see like your face?
Anna Kendrick: Well, weirdly, her face, her features are so different than mine that it's hard for me to see my own expressions, but the animators have told me that it's a lot of my own expressions, but I see it a little bit in the body language because I was doing a lot of sighing and a lot of hip and shoulder movement. I was so tired that I was being crushed under the weight of my own body. I love that she has nothing to worry about, but she's so world weary, you know. The zombies haven't even come yet and it's like she thinks her life is so hard and I see some of that in the animation, which makes me happy.
Q: Did you physically act in the film while doing the voice over?
Anna Kendrick: In a weird way you are because you're trying to use your body just in service of get something across knowing that you're only going to have your voice and it creates this funny thing where it's this contained space and you're trying to physically feel like you're running or you're screaming or going down in a hill in a car that's crashing. I ended up doing all of these weird like spastic movements and Casey was saying that the camera they were using, they needed a second one because I was doing a lot of knee acting. A lot of physical stuff is going on, but it's easier to do that because you know it 's not going to be in the movie. I was doing a lot of stuff with my body and face that I would never do on screen because it would be humiliating.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about Chris and Sam and how they helped guide you through this process?
Anna Kendrick: They were just cool and great. It didn't feel any different than making a film, weirdly. The great thing was really just having that limited reaction time where they could just come over the speaker and give me direction and I can spit it right back to them. If they liked that they'd say 'that' or you know, they could give me direction and I could respond to that as though we're having a conversation. Instead of film sets where you kind of decide on an idea and you try it and then 10 minutes later when all of the lights are adjusted you can actually find out if that's what they want or not.
Q: What made you say yes to this particular project?
Anna Kendrick: I'll admit that I was just super excited to be asked to be in an animated film, but there was a really great moment when I was reading the script where I realized that all of these kids would be going on this adventure and that the adults were not going to be a part of it. When I started reading the script I didn't know if it was going to be Norman on his own or if it was going to be the whole town and I love those movies where it seems like kids band together and they have this kind of contained adventure where the adults don't even know what's going on, but they know how high the stakes are. That was my favorite kind of thing when I was a kid like The Goonies. This would be like one of my favorite movies if I was a kid.
Q: One of the themes of this film is what is normal and what is different, how about you? What do you think yourself, what is not normal?
Anna Kendrick: Sometimes I feel like I must live in such a strange bubble because I do spend a lot of time around movie people whether that means that they're in movies or they're into movies. When I meet someone who's not really geeky about movies I always sort of think 'Ok, well, what are you really geeky about?' and if they don't have a thing I don't really know how to relate to them. I don't really know what normal is for me because at this point normal is a little neurotic and weird.
Q: Do you feel like working on an animated film like this made you feel less intimidated going into a live action film since you've had that opportunity to be very expressive without anyone really seeing?
Anna Kendrick: I guess it all depends on the character. Now I feel like if I were playing a character similar to this in a live action film it would make me more free. When you asked me the question I was thinking about a movie that I shot after ParaNorman where I certainly start out in that movie kind of stiff and therefore my physicality's very stiff. Yeah, I don't know. It's made me want to do a live action version of Courtney because she was so much fun so maybe I'd be willing to forgo physical vanity and just go nuts. I don't know.
Q: Aside from The Goonies, when you were younger, what sort of movies did you watch growing up?
Anna Kendrick: I was just having a conversation with somebody about those movies that you see when you're a kid and you can't remember if you dreamed them. Like Space Camp, where it's like kids get trapped in a spaceship and there's like an adult or two, isn't there just the one woman? Just one woman, she's the adult and then these kids in space. Oh and Flight of the Navigator. What? That movie's amazing! Oh, animated films, well I did get The Little Mermaid on VHS for my birthday one year and I started crying hysterically. I was inconsolable because I was so happy and my parents were like 'It's not a big deal. It's just a VHS tape,' That's a pretty lame one because every girl likes that movie, but I liked The Aristocats too.
Q: Is Courtney based off of anybody that you know or stereotypes?
Anna Kendrick: I guess Courtney's like the worst version of myself when you're a teenage girl and you fight with your mom and it's awful and you're like the shittiest human being possible during those years and you're kind of okay to other people, but you're so mean to your mom. I guess Courtney's like my shameful revisiting of like my worse arguments with my mom. Where she hasn't done anything wrong and you're like 'You're the worst!'.
Q: Related to Norman, he's your little brother, you care about him but at this same time you're this….
Anna Kendrick: I'm pretty mean.
Q: So do you have brothers?
Anna Kendrick: I have an older brother, but our relationship mostly went from when we were little he kind of looked out for me and then I went through a phase where I just worshipped everything he did and he thought I was annoying and then we went through a phase where I thought he was an idiot and I thought I was more mature than he was and now we're kind of back at that place where he looks out for me. I never really had the thing of finding a sibling really embarrassing, but I'm sure my brother has. Maybe that's what I'm channeling.
Q: So the academy nomination, what kind of doors [did it] open for you?
A: It was funny because after Up in the Air people just wanted me to play that same part in their movie, you know do the same thing, but for them, and I thought that was really strange because this is supposed to be this really creative industry. When people ask me that question, I'm like don't know, it opened the door for me to play that part again and again. I feel like I had to fight just as hard to get people to see me in a different way. Even in like 50/50 that character is really different, is really vulnerable and open and excited to help people and people would be like so you're basically playing the same part you played in Up in the Air, I was like 'I think you just choose to see me that way', you know. So it's been interesting and I feel like I've been getting away from that more. It was almost like people needed a little bit of time to see me in a different way. I mean just time away from that movie like being fresh in their minds and just thinking of me as an actress who did a good job in a movie and not just that one character. It's been like a weird kind of rippling effect where at first it was really strange because the thing that happened was just that everybody wanted me to play that character.
Q: What else do you have coming up?
Anna Kendrick: Oh yeah, the movie that I was talking about when I started reading that script I was like 'oh this is like the Up in the Air character', but then something interesting happens and she kind of has a quarter life crisis or something and she becomes kind of a stoner. I was like that's really funny and really interesting so that was what really interesting about that. That's for Get a Job.
Q: What else do you have?
A: Ok, so, End of Watch, Pitch Perfect, Get a Job, Drinking Buddies, The Company You Keep ..… I don't know. I'm tired guys. Fucking tired.