Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow are part of the terrific ensemble cast in “Pitch Perfect,” which opens in theaters on September 28th. Directed by Jason Moore, the comedy is loaded with new takes on old favorites, to hits of right now that are seamlessly mixed together, mashed-up and arranged like you’ve never heard before.
The Oscar and Tony-nominated Kendrick plays Beca, a girl who’d rather listen to what’s coming out of her headphones than what’s coming out of anyone’s mouth. Arriving at Barden University, she reluctantly joins an all-female a cappella group, The Bellas, and then takes them out of their world of traditional arrangements and perfect harmonies into all-new mash-ups as they fight to climb their way to the top of the cutthroat world of college music competitions. Snow, whose past singing-on-film experience includes the musical hit, “Hairspray,” is cast in the role of Chloe, the eager-to-please morale booster of The Bellas.
At the film’s press day, Kendrick and Snow talked about their new comedy, what it was like working with director Jason Moore, what were the most fun and challenging musical sequences to shoot, what’s behind our newfound fascination with musicals, and why they’re excited about the film’s big gay following.
Q: Both of you started out in musical theater. Do you have a horror story from back in the day where something weird happened on stage when you were young that almost scared you away from musical theater?
Anna Kendrick: I forgot the lyrics to “The Good Ship Lollipop” when I was five at a dance recital and I decided to sit on stage and cry, and then I went off stage, and that was scarring, and that is the end of that story.
Brittany Snow: Mine’s not much better. I guess when I was eight or nine, I was in “Pirates of Penzance,” and I had to wear this really long, big wig, and I had to come across the stage tiptoeing, and the wig fell off, and the boy that I really liked was laughing at me. I cried too. And then, I had to sing and I couldn’t really sing. I think later on in musical theater I’m not really sure if anything crazy happened, just kid stuff.
Q: What was your favorite number to perform and why?
Kendrick: “No Diggity” because it’s the best song ever.
Snow: Probably “No Diggity” was definitely one of our favorites just because I think it was a song we all really wanted to get into and we liked, and I loved that song from long ago. It’s always been my karaoke song, and I think I was really jealous that Anna got to do the rap part.
Kendrick: But it worked out great because it’s really funny the idea that this is also Chloe’s secret favorite song, so her face through that is so excited.
Snow: I was so excited. I wish there was in the DVD extras something of me in the background because I couldn’t help but sing the … Actually, if you look closely, there’s a part at the very end when she goes “Weeouw!” and nobody else is supposed to say that except for her, but I was so caught up in the song that I say it too and I’m like “Weeouw!” And then, Jason, when we were doing post-production was like “I can’t… You’re not supposed to…” and I said “I know. I can’t believe I just kept doing it.” I got so caught up in the moment. So, that’s in there.
Q: What was it like working with director Jason Moore? Did you get to work with the puppets?
Kendrick: (joking) Yeah, he brought the puppets and we played with them. No! The question is only as good as its potential answer. (laughing) I’m just gonna say that. No, Jason is amazing. He’s really smart. He’s really on it. I think he sees everything from every angle. He’s a smart enough person and has such amazing taste that it feels like that’s the guy that makes you feel safe when you’re in a pool singing “No Diggity” wondering is this going to come across well or am I just going to come across like this tiny white girl singing “No Diggity” and is it going to be a disaster? He was a great guy to have as the captain of the ship.
Snow: And I think also he did a really great job. It was a huge task to have all the Bellas, all the Treblemakers, all of the other a cappella groups that were there and extras and wrangle everybody and make sure that everybody was in sync and was focused. There were times when I was looking around and I was like I can’t believe that he’s doing this because it was a huge production. It was basically a Broadway play that was happening every day for two months. I was really amazed at how well he handled things and was completely calm throughout. I don’t think he ever even had a freak out.
Kendrick: Every time I saw him do this move where he’d like play with the front of his hair. I was like “Jason’s tripping. Come back, come back! C’mon, Captain, don’t sweat. Don’t let me see you sweat.”
Snow: But he never lost it which I thought was really cool.
Kendrick: Oh no!
Snow: It was great.
Q: What were the most fun sequences or musical numbers to shoot and which were the most challenging?
Kendrick: I think the finale number was both the most challenging and the most fun. That was a moment where it really felt like it was just the ten of us supporting each other. The crew was there but they weren’t really close to us, and the audience was full of people and Jason and Elizabeth (Elizabeth Banks) and Max (producer Max Handelman) and everybody were in the back of the theater and it felt like we really had to rely on each other and support each other and feed off of each other’s energy in a way that I think is exclusive to theatrical performance. I thought that was a really beautiful thing to look around at all these girls and know that they’re my co-workers and my friends and that we’re in it for each other. We’re not really thinking about the camera. We’re just trying to be there to support each other.
Q: What are your favorite karaoke songs?
Kendrick: Dammit, I need to come up with an answer for this immediately!
Snow: Mine are…no joke, it’s “No Diggity,” always, and then Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.”
Kendrick (to Snow): You’re amazing. I’m looking at my phone to see if there is a song I can start pretending is my karaoke song.
Snow: It’s the weirdest thing. I don’t know how I learned lyrics to those songs. Like when I was a kid, I didn’t specifically sit down and learn those lyrics. It’s actually really frightening that I just listened to it so many times that …
Kendrick: I just realized that my one, that I didn’t even know how I memorized it but I did, is “99 Problems.” I know that song by heart.
Snow: She also knows all the words, like back and forth, to “Super Bass.”
Kendrick: That’s true.
Snow: Like she can do “Super Bass” way fast and amazing which is something that you might not think when you look at her.
Q: There are so many hilarious moments. Were there any particular lines or scenes that were really hard to not break character where you just wanted to laugh?
Kendrick: I think the scene where we’re all confessing stuff was hard. It was towards the end of the shoot, like maybe the second to last days for the girls. It was late and we were all just sitting around staring at each other and it was just like you get too relaxed. You get too comfortable. In a scene like the riff-off, there’s so much at stake and so many moving parts that your brain is working overtime. I think just sitting in a circle with these girls that I’d gotten to know over three months was like I can’t take you guys seriously.
Snow: All that stuff in the rehearsal room was done at the same time and that’s so true. For some reason, I think we kind of lost it in those scenes. There were a couple times where we were in very close proximity to each other and the way that it was staged, the camera was kind of on top of us. All of the girls had to be off camera for Anna, and all be crowded, and we were like all on top of each other trying to give her eye lines or whatever and it must have looked ridiculous. I think that we couldn’t even get through that scene.
Kendrick: I think at one point I was like “Wait, what’s my eye line?” And you just saw ten girls’ hands going in every different direction. “It’s over here!” “No, Anna, it’s over here!” I was like “You guys are amazing. I love you so much.”
Snow: Yeah, that was pretty chaotic, but I think that’s the part when we realized that we all really were close friends because we were just dying laughing all the time.
Q: Anna, you’ve got three films all coming out around the same time including one opening today. How did you juggle all these movies at one time and were any of those projects more challenging than another?
Kendrick: They’re all so different. This was more of a time commitment and I was working a lot more on this one, but obviously each one presented its individual challenges. This one was hard, and I remember saying to Jason when I was debating whether or not I was up for it, I’m not actually 18 and at some point I’m going to get really sick and I’m going to be like singing and dancing and acting my face off all over this movie. So, it made me feel like such an old lady because it really wore me down in the best way, in the way where you go home after a hard day’s work, and it feels nice, but you’re exhausted. So yeah, this was definitely a tough one and I was shooting the Redford thing (referring to “The Company You Keep” with Robert Redford) at the same time and trying to promote “50/50” at the same time. So, I was tired, but it was also so much fun and there was so much levity to it that it wasn’t like I was playing someone with cancer the entire time. I got to go to work and mess around with these girls all the time which was really great.
Q: What do you think is behind our newfound fascination with musicals?
Kendrick: A government conspiracy? There are actually hidden messages in this movie. You are now basically all Manchurian candidates. So, just watch for the signs. I’m not kidding.
Snow: She’s kidding.
Kendrick: I’m not kidding.
Snow: She’s kidding. I think that what’s happening now is there has been a surge of people really interested in and passionate about musicals. I think it started ten years ago and then now it’s getting more and more prevalent. I think that people want to go to the movies and watch shows on TV or in theaters that make them feel good and music really does that. Not only can you watch something and connect to dialogue, but when you listen to a song, it gives a whole other element of connection and you get that feeling like you want to stand up and dance and sing. I think that people need that and want to watch that. I think that with these musicals that are out and the shows that are out, people are getting further and further into what’s really out there musically. A cappella has been around for a really long time, but now people are like “Oh wow, that’s out there?” People who do that are very talented and it actually makes you feel really good when you listen to it. I think it’s just time and people are discovering this and they’re enjoying it, so I’m grateful because we get to sing and dance.
Kendrick: That’s the difference between us – those two answers – that I refuse to be sincere, and you’re like amazing.
Q: Is there anything in particular that you expect to see on the outtakes or hope doesn’t appear on the outtakes?
Kendrick: It’s actually hard for me to say because I should’ve. I’ve seen a version from a couple months ago and I think things have changed since then and I was just approving the deleted scenes and I was like “That got cut?!!” There’s going to be a lot of great stuff on the outtakes which is great, I guess, but I’d rather was in the movie.
Snow: It would be like an eight-hour movie if it had all of the stuff that we did and all of the improv and things. It would just be the longest movie. It would get weird. I think there’s one blooper at the end of the movie that plays during the credits, but that’s it.
Q: Were there any song numbers that you did that were cut that you wish weren’t?
Kendrick: No, there was only one song that got cut and it was a time thing and it was performed by one of the supporting a cappella groups.
Q: Did you have any say in the wardrobe for your roles?
Kendrick: Yeah, it’s obviously the wardrobe designer’s job and he’s a really talented guy so we’re respectful of that, but certainly our input was valid. It’s like a give and take. [joking] I designed everything I wear. I made it by hand on a sewing machine that I rented.
Snow: By hand.
Kendrick: (laughing) That I also made.
Q: Do you remember any specific cliques that you were in when you were in school?
Kendrick: I was in the super mean girl clique. I was really popular and tall and skinny. I was in the drama geek clique, if that’s even considered a clique. I don’t know if that warrants the name, but yeah, I hung out in the auditorium at lunch and stuff. We were aggressively dorky.
Snow: I only went to one year of normal high school so I guess I wasn’t really in a clique, and then I went to school the rest of the time on set which was nice because I wanted to get out of high school.
Kendrick: So you were in the most exclusive clique of all – your own.
Snow: I was in the clique of myself and we had a great time.
Kendrick: And your tutor?
Snow: Yeah. We had a blast.
Kendrick: You were so mean to everybody else.
Q: How aware are you of this film having a big gay following?
Kendrick: It’s pretty exciting.
Snow: We’re aware.
Kendrick: We’re aware.
Snow: We’re excited.
Kendrick: I live with two gay dudes and have done for years and they’re so excited to see this. It’s like George Clooney, George Smooney. They’re so excited to see “Pitch Perfect.”
Snow: I’ve been so lucky that I’ve gotten to be in movies like “Hairspray” and now this that I feel really resonate with the gay community because I love going to gay clubs. It’s so exciting. One time I went to a gay club and they played “New Girl in Town” and I got up on stage and I was like “This is the best. I don’t get treated like this.” It was awesome. So I’m excited.
Kendrick: A guy came up to me in Gelson’s and said “Excuse me, did you play Fritzi in ‘Camp’?” He was like “I just wanted you to know that I do a drag version of you.” It was at one of those clubs somewhere on the Santa Monica strip and I thought that was the most amazing thing I had ever heard. I know I’ve made it when somebody does me as a drag queen.