Anna Kendrick on gender stereotyping in new animation Trolls
Anna Kendrick is a breath of celebrity fresh air on Twitter. Instead of humblebrag #nomakeup selfies, her account is full self-deprecating gags. (Sample tweet: “Relationships: because watching MasterChef alone is only six percent as fun.”) In keeping with her reputation for celebrity realness (she flies economy), when the 31-year-old actress arrives to talk to Time Out about Trolls, the new DreamWorks animation in which she stars alongside Justin Timberlake, she’s got a terrible cold and a hacking cough: “I feel like I’m being gross!”
In Trolls you play Poppy, a perky pink princess. Did you worry about girly gender stereotyping?
I know it doesn’t seem in keeping with the trend of stronger females in stories for young girls. But for me, the argument is that lots of girls are happy and dress in pink and want to be princesses. Yet at the same time they’re fierce and practical. And Poppy changed as we went along. She got more layers of can-do determination and sass, all within a person who is at her core very positive.
Do you identify more with Becca, your sarcastic character in Pitch Perfect?
Yeah, and I think that oftentimes you bring something of yourself to characters. In Trolls I brought my cynicism and let it poke through. With Becca, I brought my vulnerability. On the page she was too-cool-for-school.
Talking of trolls, you’re active on Twitter. Have you ever been trolled? I have been unbelievably fortunate. I’ve watched the very moment when a female that I follow becomes the object of a lot of hatred. Zoe Kazan spoke out about a criminal trial in Canada. She posted something in the most measured way, and it was extraordinary to watch her then become the centre of all this ugliness.
Is there a problem with anonymity on social media that protects trolls? There’s an argument to made, I feel, that I prefer to know. Because it’s not as though the internet created these feelings and these thoughts. No, people wouldn’t come up and say it in the street. But I feel that I understand the world I live in better. It’s a tough price to pay. And I know that’s easy for me to say, because I haven’t been the target. But my day will come.
Your other current film is a crime drama – The Accountant with Ben Affleck. Did you set out to take on more serious roles? It felt good to exercise those muscles after doing so much comedy. And I love comedy. But I had a great time doing The Accountant. Even though there are aspects of my character that are a little fumbly, it’s a more serious film, and she’s a more serious person.
Do people underestimate comedy? I’ve definitely heard actors say, “I’ve done a lot of serious movies recently, so I’m going to do a comedy. Something light.” That’s underestimating the heavy lifting involved. A big emotional crying scene takes it out of you, but sometimes it’s so cathartic, it’s actually fun. With comedy, after 16 hours when you’ve got to do it again, that’s a lot harder.
Who’s the funniest person you know? Kay Cannon [who wrote Pitch Perfect]. I just want to jump inside of her brain. Kay is the reason I did Pitch Perfect. There were a lot of risks, but the script was too good to pass on. She just blows me away.
What’s your favourite childhood film? That would be Annie. I was six years old and when the Hard Knocks scene came on and the little girls were doing flips on the ceiling fans, I was like, “This. Always. Forever.” And the movies I saw too young? Gettysburg, In the Name of the Father and Pulp Fiction. I think they put the nail in the head of my optimism. Trolls and The Accountant are in cinemas now.
Three top Anna movies End of Watch The Wife One of the most innovative buddy movies in recent memory, Kendrick, as Janet Taylor, wife of camera-wielding cop lead Jake Gyllenhaal, delivers a performance wise beyond her years as her husband’s recklessness destabilises their happy home life.
Pitch Perfect The Singer As much as one might resist, this comedy about college a cappella group The Bellas is hard not to love. Kendrick steals the show with her vocals, dance moves and determination. Probably why it’s the second highest-grossing music comedy film of all time, then.
Up In The Air The assistant A shining light of positivity in George Clooney’s otherwise morose existence, Kendrick’s soft hand and sympathetic aura elevates this Jason Reitman classic. The grouchy protagonist is kept grounded by his scene-stealing sidekick as he chases air miles and unfulfilling relationships.