Anna Kendrick is not one to shy away from bluntness or vulnerability. It’s part of what makes her one of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities off camera, even as the Oscar, Tony, and Emmy nominated star continues to dazzle on camera. her latest movies, Alice, Darlingis the perfect example: her deeply emotional performance precedes a press tour It’s detailed How well the subjects matched their traumatic experiences. Recently, Kendrick has mentioned for portsIncluding av clubDiscussing such personal work in interviews provided another lesson in setting safe and healthy boundaries. “I’m just figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t,” she tells us with welcome candor.
Directed by Marie Nighy and written by Alanna Francis, Alice, Darling Paints a detailed psychological portrait of a woman caught in an abusive relationship. Unlike most of these depictions, Alice lives through emotional, manipulative abuse, which as Kendrick points out is inherently more difficult to convey in film. Embracing how little this relationship directly became Kendrick North’s star, a symbol of what she’s achieved in Hollywood as an actress, producer, and soon as a debut director (The dating game, which just wrapped filming, starring Kendrick as reality game show contestant and serial killer Cheryl Bradshaw). Here she addresses that transition from behind the camera, why collaborators are more than just collaborators, and whether acting is always therapeutic (spoiler alert: it isn’t).
av club: So you’re taking out your first! How did it feel to step behind the camera?
Anna Kendrick: I remember to say [my director of photography Zach Kuperstein], maybe two days before filming, I have this terrible habit of just having a job as an actor but feeling like everything is my responsibility, in a very unhelpful and counterproductive way. And I was so excited to actually have it all in charge of me and see how it feels! I had the time of my life, it was very exciting. I haven’t had this much fun in years. We just finished shooting in December and yeah, I couldn’t be more grateful and over the moon about that.
AVC: What was it like directing the actors and overseeing the technical stuff?
AK: Behind the camera, I definitely, totally went at it, and went, “I have a visual deficit.” Like, I’ll never be the color palette guy. I think a lot of times there are things we don’t want to get involved with because we’re like, well, if I’m not an expert on that, I’m not worth trying. I was really excited to work with the cast and it was just plain fun. But I also realized that my best friend on any set is the A-camera [operator]. So I’m around the camera all the time, thinking about the camera. And I really tried to become the kind of actor who helps with editing, you know? I also think about what the editor needs. And I think that kind of thought process was helpful in carrying that over to the directive.
AVC: The film sounds intriguing, I’m excited to see it. We also need to talk about Alice, Darling, which details a form of abuse we haven’t often seen on screen. Were there other depictions of this psychological dynamic that inspired you?
AK: Someone else was just asking me about that and they’re a huge, huge movie buff and they couldn’t think of anything, which made me feel better, because I haven’t been able to think of any movies quite like this. I think it’s a really difficult thing to capture on screen. And the combination of the screenplay and the direction and all these amazing performances from the entire cast have really helped put something impossible into film. It’s challenging because the experience of being in that kind of relationship, it’s so fucking difficult to even describe. So how the hell do you put it on screen? But I think that we all had this common goal of never taking the easy way out—like having at least one scene where Simon shoves Alice into a wall, so that we can all kind of agree, okay, so he’s the bad guy and she’s the good guy. [Instead it was about] Forcing the viewer to live in a space unsure if they can trust Alice, in some ways. Because, yeah, when you’re at it, you don’t know if you can trust your thoughts or your feelings. And I think that’s the most insidious thing about it, it really takes away your confidence.
AVC: In the context of the unreliable narrative, how did you handle the gradual revelation of what’s really going on with Alice? It seems to me that you, as an actor, should have indicated to us that something was not right without specifying what it was.
AK: One of the interesting things is when I shoot anything with Charlie [Carrick], who played Simon, we always gave a lot of variation to each other. There were times when I was really stepping into the perpetrator role and he was stepping into the victim role. That way, when I was shooting scenes where I knew Alice was going to have flashbacks, I, as an actor, didn’t even know which version Mary was going to use. And I think that was a perfect thing. Because the experience — like, what do I remember? How did that come down? Like, I’m not sure. We kind of played with the idea of having flashes of Alice for both versions, which is something we ended up not needing. But that was always something I found useful in terms of knowing the world of the film and the tone of the film. That this one is so deep that every memory is just some kind of merchant’s choice, how do I remember that? Was I the aggressor or the injured party at any given moment?
AVC: It goes back to your idea of giving the editor a lot of options, so that the renderings take place in the editing room. Playing so many different versions of the scene must have deepened the dynamics of Alice’s relationship with Simon.
AK: yes. And I asked Charlie if he’d be comfortable with that, and then I asked Mary if we tried scenes like that. Because he was such an incredible creative ally and was so thoughtful about a character I could understand no actor really wants to think too much. But he was really able to find that balance of having some empathy for Simon, which is the only way he can play it grounded and real.
AVC: Without getting into too many personal details about the relationship you said that informed your approach to these characters, you said at one point that you were concerned that you might be filming this too soon after your experience in real life. Have you seen actors use storytelling to work through something just to make it more traumatic for them?
AK: Oh yes.
AVC: Or is art, as some have claimed, always my therapy?
AK: No, I don’t think art is always therapeutic, I really don’t. I think we want it to be. I think it could be in different ways. The thing you’re talking about, you’ve watched it happen, and you feel like re-traumatizing yourself isn’t helping anyone. Yes, there was a point when I first spoke to Mary, we weren’t quite sure when the movie was going to start shooting. But I told her if the movie was suddenly shooting in a couple of months, I think it would be wrong for me to do that. And some time passed–and it was evidently not just the time that went by and the healing of all wounds supposedly worked for me–it was as if by that time I had acquired a lot of resources that I could draw upon. In the end, the thing I didn’t anticipate was the fact that the people who decided to come shoot this tiny little movie on a lake in Canada turned up because the script spoke to them personally. So, to be surrounded every day by people who have intimate knowledge of what this experience means, I felt incredibly safe. Because that’s all we hope for when we’re in a crisis, is to be around people who truly see and believe you. And I never felt like I was in the danger zone. If anything, some of the press materials were more difficult to navigate. And I just figure out what works for me and what doesn’t and make changes accordingly. But honestly, even the skill set to make those changes instead of just going, “Okay, okay, I’m going to grit my teeth and keep doing what I’m doing,” is something I couldn’t have done without sometimes. And a lot of treatment. [Laughs]
AVC: I hear that, so I appreciate your involvement — it comes through in your interviews and in the film itself. In general, what is your artistic mission, the intersection between your storytelling and your values? Because it looks like Alice, Darling It’s in line with what you’re trying to achieve in Hollywood: telling honest stories, de-stigmatizing shame, mental health, and so on.
AK: Oh, wow. Sorry, did I say the connection between telling my story and my values? Or values?
AVC: Values and beliefs, yeah. No value as a person!
AK: Well, yeah. [Laughs] Because I was like, oh, do you want to get in on this shit? … I always get really cocky, like, ‘What am I doing [believe] about stories? But yeah, the thing that was really important to me about this movie and that I hope to carry over to any other project I’m doing is just — if someone watches it, will they find it grounding and believable? Or will it be an oversimplification of a really complex problem? And look, there are also movies. comedic or have a different goal in mind.But I guess that’s been my ongoing daily task with Alice, Darling, is to keep it in the realm of really complicated things. Because I really wanted an Instagram video or a self-help book to tell me what was going on in my life and what to do. And I am very disappointed to say that this does not exist. [Laughs] So leaving this movie really complicated and sometimes maybe not the most helpful thing, I think, was the most valuable thing for me.