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