SIM­PLE AN­SWER

Anna Ken­drick’s pub­lic per­sona of sweet­ness and smiles proved fit­ting ahead of her play­ing a cheery single mum in her new com­edy/thriller

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - NEALA JOHN­SON

Anna Ken­drick has a pub­lic per­cep­tion prob­lem. Cast as a peren­ni­ally perky, saintly mum in Paul Feig’s sur­pris­ing new movie A Sim­ple Favour, Ken­drick was puz­zled by crew on set telling her they had imag­ined her in the role be­fore know­ing she had signed on.

“I texted the girls from Pitch Per­fect, and I was like, ‘this is a re­ally con­fus­ing mo­ment be­cause all these people are say­ing they im­me­di­ately thought of me to play this un­re­lent­ingly pos­i­tive, op­ti­mistic sweet­heart who doesn’t drink and doesn’t curse and is go­ing out of her way to be nice to people …’ And they were like, ‘you need to work on your rep­u­ta­tion be­cause that’s su­per not how we think of you’,” Ken­drick re­calls with a laugh.

Ken­drick and her girl­friends, you see, con­sider the 33-year-old to be “cyn­i­cal and jaded”.

The ef­fer­ves­cent Pitch Per­fect tril­ogy con­cluded this year with the third in­stal­ment push­ing it over $800 mil­lion in world­wide box of­fice.

If this is the end of their mu­si­cal may­hem, fans will at least be able to see the Bel­las’ friend­ship live on through Instagram, where happy snaps reg­u­larly doc­u­ment catch-ups with co-stars in­clud­ing Brit­tany Snow, Anna Camp and Chrissie Fit.

“There’s no get­ting rid of ’em now, they’ve weaselled their way into my life,” Ken­drick smiles. “It’s this amaz­ing, bizarre con­nec­tion that it’s hard for other people to un­der­stand.”

Life is never dull, Ken­drick adds, when Rebel Wil­son is part of your posse.

A very dif­fer­ent pic­ture of fe­male friend­ship is at the cen­tre of A Sim­ple Favour.

Ken­drick likens the film to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or Get Out – a thriller that, while not mak­ing jokes, has a strong comedic bent.

Think of it as Gone Girl made by the guy who did Brides­maids and Spy.

We first meet mummy blog­ger Stephanie (Ken­drick), an overea­ger single mother al­ways quick with a healthy snack idea or to vol­un­teer for school events.

“I love that Stephanie is so pos­i­tive and so non­judg­men­tal,” Ken­drick says.

It is through an un­likely friend­ship with an­other mum that Stephanie is fi­nally forced to, as Ken­drick puts it, “nut up”.

High-fly­ing fash­ion PR rep Emily ad­mon­ishes Stephanie to “stop say­ing sorry” and soon has the meek mouse spilling se­crets over per­fectly made mar­ti­nis. Then, hav­ing asked Stephanie to pick up her son af­ter school one day, Emily dis­ap­pears.

Played by glama­zon Blake Lively, ev­ery inch of Emily’s sharply suited sil­hou­ette screams what the other school mums have al­ready whis­pered: Emily is go­ing to eat sweet Stephanie alive.

Luck­ily the real Lively is a lot more ap­proach­able.

“She could scare the crap out of you if she wanted to, but luck­ily she’s not that per­son,” Ken­drick says.

Hol­ly­wood’s man of the mo­ment, Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Gold­ing, again cuts a dash­ing fig­ure as Emily’s hus­band, Sean.

Ken­drick says the Malaysian was “so poised” she had to re­mind her­self that A Sim­ple Favour was only his sec­ond film, that he wasn’t “this un­be­liev­ably ex­pe­ri­enced ac­tor”.

“I feel very lucky we got in early while stock was cheap,” she quips. “While he’d still look in our di­rec­tion.”

Since wrap­ping A Sim­ple Favour, Ken­drick has gone on to achieve a life’s am­bi­tion: star­ring in a Christ­mas movie.

In Dis­ney’s Noelle she plays the daugh­ter of Santa Claus. Among Santa’s elves is one Shirley MacLaine.

“I’m so lucky that I got to work with her so closely,” Ken­drick says. “The sto­ries she has told me, man … I am not go­ing to tell you, but … I feel very en­riched.” A Sim­ple Favour is now show­ing in cin­e­mas

Anna Ken­drick en­joyed play­ing an un­re­lent­ingly pos­i­tive char­ac­ter in A Sim­ple Favour.

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