Into the Woods Interview: Anna Kendrick and Director Rob Marshall #IntoTheWoodsEvent
We always applaud the actors and filmmakers when they enter the room. Twenty-five mommy bloggers could be a bit overwhelming to some, or most! It’s amazing that these actors and filmmakers take the time out of their busy schedules for a laid back interview with us. Honestly, I’m sure it’s refreshing for them instead of the typical in-your-face interviews they do. Anna Kendrick’s face when her and director Rob Marshall walked in was absolutely priceless.
Our first question was for director Rob Marshall came after he had spoke about the cast in the live Q&A. We watched the movie, Into the Woods, the night before at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater and had the opportunity to watch the live Q&A of the cast and filmmakers. He had said the cast surprised him especially in relation to their talents. We wanted to know what surprised him about Anna Kendrick, who played Cinderella. Anna immediately blushed, “I’m so embarrassed. I should leave the room.”
Rob said Anna is easy to talk about because he adores her. Who wouldn’t adore her? Rob continued to say, “The truth is, that voice is extraordinary and I think everybody looked up to her in the cast because of that. “She comes from a very rich background with her Broadway experience as a child. So to have that gift is amazing and what surprised me the most about Anna is her range as an actor. The fact that she was able to open up with this piece and show such depth and vulnerability and agility and complexity.”
Meryl Streep called Anna’s role the most complex character in the film because of what she’s dealing with and it needs a great internal depth which Anna can do. Anna’s an Oscar nominated actor who’s done enormous amounts of beautiful work on film and on stage. “To see the full range of what she has and to be able to open that up is an exposing thing as an actor, to be able to let you in and Anna lets you in. She lets you into this person who’s indecisive and not sure and wrestling with her, with what she’s feeling. It’s a very brave personal, beautiful performance and I’ve very proud of it. Very proud of her.” said Rob. Anna blushed and thanked Rob. I love how you can see how much Rob thinks of the cast in the film.
Rob called the cast a company because everyone is working together for the same thing. Rob said when he casts people he not only cast them for the talent and for playing the roles but also for who they are. He wants people around him he likes and people that are wonderful to work with that are there for the right reasons. He said there was a sense of honoring this beautiful Sondheim, James Lapine piece. Rob said they were all very lucky because musicals are few and far between, especially a Sondheim musical. They felt very lucky to be doing the piece. Rob said, “I felt everybody supporting each other. Rehearsals helped enormously, having that time to create that company because that’s when everybody’s doing things for the first time and it’s exposing, everybody’s working hard, to do it together.”
Rehearsals were a bonding experience for them. Anna said it was an equalizer because they were all terrified. She continued, “There’s nothing like terror to make you forget what you thought the hierarchy was going to be when you arrived. That there would be a feeling of a food chain or something and to just be in it doing the work, especially when we were all so intimidated by the music. It just made you realize we’re all in the same boat here.” The cast had six weeks of rehearsals and prerecords before they started really filming.
Anna plays a modern day Cinderella, a Sondheim Cinderella. Cinderella finds herself talking herself into things and out of things. Without giving anything away from the movie, Cinderella does realize in the end what is really important when the entire community has to come together.
Anna keeps her fan base engaged with an excellent twitter following. She has become known for speaking her mind and I love that about her! Anna said, “When I first started working consistently and doing press I felt like I was supposed to be really composed, very diplomatic version of myself. I remember Rob said something to me when we were doing ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) about Twitter or talk shows or something and he said it’s so great that you can be yourself and I was like it is great that I can be myself because not being myself was a lot harder.” She said she’s really grateful and lucky that she’s able to do that because she’s realized she doesn’t have to be some sort of Miss America her whole life. I’m glad she is herself too!
Be sure to follow Anna on twitter!
For someone with such an intense need to be liked you'd think I would have figured out how to be less of an asshole.
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) September 2, 2013
We asked Rob if he finds any differences or challenges in directing a musical from other films. He said it’s almost like doing two films at once because you have that huge musical side of it and this film is really a combination of live and prerecorded. You can’t lie on camera. It should seem like it’s happening in the moment. You shouldn’t know where it’s live and where it’s not. Anna sang live a lot of she because she can. When the camera is so close and taking in so much there’s an honesty to the work that has to be there. Film doesn’t lie. Anna added, “The microphone doesn’t lie either. People think that if something is prerecorded that means that you got to cheat a lot but the microphone hears everything. I was amazed when we would hear playback that I thought I was doing the same thing take after take and there would be so many different colors. It catches everything the way that the camera does.”
Rob said he actually had someone ask him if he enhances the performances in any shape or form. He laughed. Absolutely not. He said, “The joys of the piece is that you feel the character, even the imperfections of the voice. I don’t want perfect voices. I want the emotion and the actor to come out. That’s the most important thing. The fact that they all sing so great is a testament to the incredible work they put into this piece and they all can really sing, even people that were new to singing for the first time like Chris Pine or Emily Blunt or James Corden. These people that are new to singing, they just worked incredibly hard to make it happen and Anna’s role as Cinderella is so difficult to sing. She’s belting the last note of her song. I mean what is that an E?” Anna said, “It’s an E flat. It’s the Let It Go note. I’m sure you’re all familiar with that song.” Umm, yes!
Of course, we had to ask Anna about Pitch Perfect and the “Cups” song. I mean, who wouldn’t? Anna said, “Again, so sorry about that.” Don’t be sorry! We love it! It’s such a popular song and movie. My husband has probably seen it ten times!
We love seeing Anna in the musical. or movies with a lot of singing. Anna said she’s doing them because they’re making musical. It’s a grand time for her to be alive and working. She’s so grateful for these movies and that Rob ushered in an age when people would make a movie musical. She said she loves being a part of them as long as anybody will let her. We will let her! I love seeing Anna in these movies! Rob added, “It’s in your blood. Anna has it in her blood. You either have it or you don’t. What does Mama Rose say? You either have it or you ain’t. I mean, you know, that’s what she has.” We agree!
Anna and Rob both come from a theater background. Rob said when he was making Chicago people told him musicals are a dead genre. He never believed it. Neither did we. It’s about the execution, the material and making it work. Rob said what he loves about the rule of musicals is that when you can’t speak, or when speaking isn’t enough, you must sing or when movement isn’t enough you dance. Rob said, “There’s nothing like the joy of it.”
Anna’s character, Cinderella, gets stuck on the steps of the palace and has to make an enormous decision. It’s not enough to speak a monologue so she sings it, “On the Steps of the Palace.” Rob said it should feel organic which is a beautiful way to express yourself.
Watch the clip below of Anna Kendrick, “On the Steps of the Palace”:
We asked Rob if he anticipated any original musicals being created for film. Rob said, “I love you saying that because the truth is the greatest musicals, the sort of golden era of the musicals in the 50s and the 40s and 50s was the MGM musicals when they created musicals for film. So, Singing in the Rain was created for film. Bandwagon was created for film and Easter Parade was created for film and Gigi was created for film and Meet Me in St. Louis was made for film. They weren’t stage productions. And so that would be heaven to be able to do that and create a musical for Anna Kendrick.”
Anna said her favorite musical is Parade. Anna said, “I was attached to the role of Iola Stover and I’m sadly no longer 13 but I would just love to see that on film. Not sure that it’s gonna happen.”
We also asked them if they believe the role of Cinderella will change how little girls view princesses. Anna said she hopes it does. She said she saw this piece, the Bernadette version on VHS when she was about a ten and remembers being so compelled by it. She said she even realized at the time that these themes she didn’t full understand but wanted it to be something she could revisit when she got older. To her the idea that we’re seeing a princess who chooses the unknown over security is an important message in the movie for girls. It’s a really outdated notion that one person is right and one person is wrong and Anna said she hopes that Cinderella’s journey in this is a reflection of that and a reflection of forgiveness and compassion.
Rob and Anna have such a great respect for one another and it’s obvious when we interviewed them together. We wanted to know if they have any future collaborations in the works. Anna said she’s sure she’ll get an invite for Christmas from Rob. We laughed. Rob said, “Listen, it’s been joyous working with this amazing woman next to me who is very special. The best word about her is authentic. I think people feel that and embrace that and that’s why she’s so loved and that’s why she’s so great on film as well.” Rob said he feels very lucky to have worked with this company across the boards starting with the great Meryl Streep. She sets the bar incredibly high for everybody. Rob said it was a fast shoot with a limited amount of budget and limited amount of time but that never stopped them. Rob ended with, “We were all there to do the right thing and it was one of those special ones for sure.”
I definitely agree with him! Into the Woods is a special one for sure! Be sure to go take your family to see Into the Woods showing in theaters everywhere now!
Be sure to check out our other great interviews for Into the Woods: