Before she unleashes her inner gleek in next week’s a capella comedy Pitch Perfect, Anna Kendrick goes to a decidedly darker place in David Ayer’s gritty new cop-umentary, End of Watch. In it, she plays the doting girlfriend to Jake Gyllenhaal’s fearless man in blue, who, along with his partner (played by Michael Pena), get themselves into some deep doo-doo by playing cowboy in the wild west streets of South Central L.A. It was one of two films Kendrick premiered at last week’s TIFF, the other being Robert Redford’s restrained thriller The Company You Keep. Here, the 27-year-old actress discusses her naivete when it comes to drugs, post-production depression, and why she would never, ever marry a cop.
Do you enjoy coming to Toronto?
Yeah, Toronto has been really good to me. I mean, obviously I’ve been lucky to be here with films that I’m really proud of and people seem to connect with. But the audiences are just really present, and it seems to be really a mixed-bag of industry people, festival people, and people who have maybe never been to a festival before. Like some of the really young people at 50/50 and End of Watch, I got the sense that they had no idea that, like for example, the cast would come and sit down in the audience. They were really excited it, and it was like, “You know, that’s how festivals work, right?”
Well, this is a festival for cinephiles, as opposed to something like Cannes that can feel a little more contrived and industry based.
Yeah absolutely, but it’s also kind of elegant. Like Sundance is rough and tumble in that sense, but here it’s nice to put on a proverbial dress when you’re in your movie.
What kind of research did you do for End of Watch? Did you learn about drug cartels at all ?
No. I am incredibly naive, actually, when it comes to drug trafficking, I suppose, for lack of a better word, and drug use, actually. I feel like consistently though, there will be somebody at a party whose acting strange and I’ll turn to a friend and be like, “he is acting a little weird” and they’re like, “he is clearly on coke” and I’ll be like “What!?!” How come I can never tell when these things are going on? You know somebody mentioned the Chinatown bus, and they were like “clearly that is a drug trafficking thing, otherwise they go out of business.” These things just never occur to me; I feel very naive.
You live in L.A., and there is a huge drug war happening right at your doorstep. Do you feel very far-removed from it?
I mean, there was a store where I used to live, that a friend and I were absolutely certain was either, you know, a secret brothel or a secret drug-running place or something, because it just seemed like how could they possibly be in business? You know, its just a really strange place and a gut-feeling, and I mean we thought this for years, and then we finally went into the store and it was just this lovely store that does tons of business.
And you felt guilty?
We did feel guilty and we spent a lot of money there and we brought a bunch of stuff because we felt so guilty. But now I moved to a new neighborhood and now I have a new one that I think is a secret drug ring. It’s like a convenience store where they never have anything. It’s just like those packages of nuts, and one frozen dinner.
You’re a suspicious person, huh?
I mean that’s what I think, like maybe not enough, you know? Or maybe I am just looking in the wrong places. Maybe really, the store next door is running a brothel? I got my eye on them.
“Anna Kendrick PI”?
The worst PI ever!
Could you ever see yourself being the wife of somebody who puts their life on the line on a daily basis? That seems like a tough position to be in.
No! I don’t know how women find the strength to do it, or men find the strength to be in relationships with women who are in law enforcement. You know, they are putting almost as much on the line as their partner is, and they are risking a piece of their family. I guess, you don’t necessarily have control over who you want to be with, but it seems like a mighty task.
Talk to me a little bit about working with Robert Redford in your other TIFF film The Company You Keep, that must have been special.
It was, it was. I mean, honestly I was on set for three days.
But if Robert Redford asks you to come on set for three days, you do it!
You do it. Exactly! It was really exciting, obviously I was extremely starstruck. He is a very gentle director, and a very generous director. There was a scene where Shia and I did this walk and talk, and he was telling me of all the coverage he was going to do, and then he felt really confident in the one take that we did. He was like, “I think we can just move on,” and I was panicking about it. And then you see it in the finished film and he’s right, it worked perfectly, it didn’t need any cuts.
Do you stay in touch with these people? Do you have Robert Redford’s number now?
Yeah, do you want me to call him right now?
Yeah, please do!
No, I mean to a degree you definitely do. But it is something I am so used to by this point. When we made End of Watch it was impossible to maintain relationships outside of this little family.
Why is that?
If I could explain that, I wouldn’t be in a lot of trouble with a lot of my friends and family. And certainly, End of Watch was an extremely intense experience in and of itself, it had different qualities than other films; you got closer faster. But filmmaking is immersive; you’re on set fourteen hours a day with these people, and no matter how many times I say that, people don’t understand that’s what I literally mean, it’s not hyperbole. And you only see these people, so things outside of it just seem like they’re not real, and that happens every time.
It must be difficult to become somewhat of a family with these people and then all of a sudden they’re out of your life.
Yeah, and I mean there is always a post-production depression period that’s really gross and manifests itself in really strange ways. And then you’re okay. It’s like there is three days of feeling like you’ve had a breakup, and then you’re fine and you go back to your normal life.