For Anna Kendrick, there’s one key difference between “Twilight” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” – she got to actually participate in some of the innovative special effects sequences in the latter. Moviehole chats to the young Oscar Nominee (for “Up in the Air”) about her role in Edgar Wright’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”, now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
How did you respond to Stacey when you first read the script?
Edgar just asked me to read for Stacey and I guess I was the only person that actually went in for her. I’m not sure what it was that about me that screamed “little sister”, but maybe it’s because I am a little sister and I’ve been a disapproving voice in my older brother’s life for as long as I can remember. I don’t think I’ve ever played a character quite as close to myself.
Was that fun for you?
It’s easy! It’s that right combination of snarky but caring. I especially love the scene on the swings where you get the slightest glimmer that she’s trying to say “I’m here for you” but even that is like a very gentle pat on the back. It’s not like a big emotional moment. It’s perfect for a brother/sister relationship, because that’s exactly the relationship I have with my brother. It’s not touchy-feely, it’s just enough to say I’m here for you and then she’s gone. That’s as much as we can muster emotionally.
But that still feels very real…
Definitely. If it had been this big cathartic moment, it would have run really false.
Were you that aware of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book before you got the part?
I wasn’t. I’m not cool enough to read an awesome indie comic book like Scott Pilgrim. Edgar sent it to me before we met about Stacey and I was so impressed with the originality of it. Especially how Bryan could create this world where you get to do the thing we all want to do in real life, like beat up our new girlfriend’s ex-boyfriends in front of all our friends.
Were you jealous of the guys who got to train to fight? Did you go along?
I wasn’t there for the fight training. I was shooting Twilight: Eclipse and Up In The Air, so I didn’t get to do any of it. I was really jealous when I saw the film of all the people who got to fight. But when you’re on set and you see poor Satya Bhabha in a harness for hours and hours, you do not feel envy at all!
What was your reaction to the movie when you first saw it?
It’s incredible. The way that it all comes together and is so tight. For a seven-month shooting schedule, it’s amazing to see how fast a movie feels when shooting was that slow!
Was it a slow process shooting all the big fight effects scene?
I definitely learned that the more exciting a scene is, the more tedious it is to shoot! It made me long for just sitting in a room just having a conversation with somebody and just shooting two angles. But obviously it’s all worth it. It is that thing where you sit around for two hours, then you see the coolest thing you’ve ever seen, someone flying through the air on a harness, flipping and singing a Bollywood song and then it’s another two hours of nothing… It’s this abrupt shooting style, like a joust.
Did your experience on something like ”Twilight” make it easier?
In the Twilight films, my character is really not aware of the supernatural world. I don’t get to watch that being shot, so on this one it was fun to react to these fight scenes almost as though it’s not really happening. The fact that they’re flipping through the air and throwing fireballs isn’t that unnerving in the Scott Pilgrim world. After that you just kind of go back to what you were doing. So that was interesting. Shooting Twilight got me used to being in the background for three weeks and then saying my one line and then going back to the background again!
Scott Pilgrim feels like a John Hughes movie that met and had a baby with a Mortal Kombat-style video game. Would you say that’s an apt description?
Yeah! Definitely. I said originally when I was trying to describe it to people, was “it’s Kill Bill meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” You always feel a little silly saying it but it’s true. I saw Ferris Bueller after we shot the movie and I was, like, “oh my god… it’s just Ferris Bueller with action.” Edgar describes it as a musical where people break into fights instead of into song and that’s the best way to put it because in this universe, fights are acceptable. I was really confused as to how that would all play and I didn’t know if it would confuse the audience, but it really works beautifully.
It seems like the cast bonded well. Did you get the chance to bond despite less time on set?
I definitely got a chance to bond with Mary (Elizabeth Winstead) and Kieran (Culkin) because they were with me on the big balcony scene watching the fight. Ellen (Wong)’s character Knives had fainted, so she took that opportunity to take a nap, which was exactly what we all wanted to do! But I got to know everybody off set. Everybody was really open and wanted to make new friends, which was great, which is oddly a sign of a professional group of people. There was no cliquey environment.
There’s a lot of mutual respect on the set. I’d been aware of people like Alison Pill and Mark Webber for years, and these are all people whose work I’ve seen and enjoyed.
Did you have time to work with Michael in terms of building the brother/sister dynamic?
We did a little rehearsal actually to get the rhythm of the phone call, because we knew we’d be shooting it separately and I immediately took on that bossy sister role. Because Edgar and Michael would start talking about something that wasn’t related to the scene and I’d be, like, “Ahem!” Just clear my throat loudly to get back to the scene.
Would you want to do more effects shooting? Would you want to follow in Mary’s footsteps and become a badass action chick?
I don’t know! It definitely feels like a commitment, but the final product is totally worth it. So, I guess so. No pain and no reward, I guess!
Were you a fan of the groups who contributed to the music?
I’m the biggest fan of Metric, so that was a thrill and their mini-concert at Comic-Con just blew my brains out. It’s the strangest thing where the band in the movie, Sex Bob-Om is supposed to be kind of a crappy garage band and Beck does all the music for it, so I guess that’s part of the movie magic where the crappy garage band is actually Beck!
What was the biggest the challenge on set?
It was technically a whole new set of challenges, but definitely a load of really fun ones. You get to a point where you feel like you’re doing choreography to your own dialogue, which is a whole new universe. As far as the character goes, I think I’d be lying if I said it was emotionally challenging, because it’s so familiar to me!
How was it working with Aubrey Plaza?
It’s so weird because we don’t ever actually share the screen, but we became good friends on set. I find her hilarious. In interviews, I’ve been breaking into fits of laughter at things she says and looking completely insane.
Did you hang out with anyone else?
Yeah! I knew Jason (Schwartzman) from before, Brandon (Routh) could not be sweeter. Chris, Mae…Those are the people I met out and around, even though we didn’t shoot together. It was such an episodic shoot and you met people where you could. But it didn’t make us feel any less like a family.
How was the Comic-Con experience for you?
It was really cool, actually. You do a lot of interviews and go to photo shoots. There are tonnes of people offering you food and drink and it’s nice, I guess. A perk. But by far the most fun thing we did was this hour-long signing with the fans. Because those are the people who are really excited by it. It’s not just, like, some photographer saying, “Okay, now make a funny face…” It was great to talk to people who were excited by the movie, whether they’d seen it or not.
What’s next for you? Are you preparing for ”Breaking Dawn”?
I don’t know, is the honest answer. But I also have a movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen that may still be untitled by the time it comes out! But we finished that and I think it might be pretty good.
Have you done a commentary for the ”Pilgrim” DVD?
I love listening to commentaries, so hopefully I’ll contribute in a meaningful way. I kind of feel pressure to live up to them. But my favourite commentaries are the ones where you feel like you’re eavesdropping on somebody having a conversation. I don’t need to know all the technical details or what the character was thinking about. I want to know if you had a terrible egg salad sandwich that day and you had to fight through that.
Any favourites in commentaries that you’re holding yourself up to?
I really like The Office commentaries and any group commentary in general.
Will there be a Stacey Pilgrim action figure?
I don’t know about that, but I am in the video game. I don’t know if anyone will ever play as me, but I have purple hair. I look cooler in the video game than in the movie. All purple. But Ramona’s in underwear!