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INTERVIEW: Anna Kendrick Talks Career Shifts and ‘Alice, Darling’

Anna Kendrick standing in a mirror in Alice Darling

The world is no stranger to a good Anna Kendrick performance. She’s been continually bringing us a great bit of acting in everything she’s done and throughout her career, she’s kept us all on our toes. Which is what makes her new film Alice, Darling such a poignant and fascinating look at abuse, the mental drain it takes on you, and the toll on your healthy relationships because of it.

Kendrick plays Alice, a woman who is so lost in her own relationship to her abuser that her friends are forced to step in and help. It’s a hard look at the emotional toll it can have on you and the pain caused and it is a different look at Kendrick as a performer. Getting to talk with her for the film’s released, I asked her about what drew her to Alice, Darling in the first place.

“I think that the subject matter really resonated with me. And I think that my team actually sent it to me because they knew what was kind of going on in my life around that time that I first got the script, which was a few years ago,” Kendrick said. “I think it was just incredible that it also happened to be this like gorgeous restrained piece. And I’d really been wanting to find something that kind of forced me to unlearn the stuff that I had been doing on set, which by the way, I feel like I’ve said that in in other interviews and it feels like I’m sort of like saying that I was doing things in a way that was cheap or inauthentic or something, but it’s just like a different way of working. And I think I’d gotten really into a rhythm of thinking about the camera and thinking about the schedule. And I always wanted to be that kind of actor, like this team player, the Gold Star student, so professional and on top of, you know, every element of filmmaking.

Kendrick talked more about how she was forced to sort of take a breath and re-examine her working life. “And life sort of forced me to take a break and I wanted to step back into my next project in a way where I wasn’t thinking about every camera angle and I wasn’t thinking about the scheduling of each day. And I was just like doing my job and trusting that the performance that I was gonna give would be an entire piece that built rather than like every day coming in and being like, nailed the scene, you know? Just wanting to feel like, yeah, today was not a very interesting or special scene, but I’m gonna trust that it will be a whole character and an entire performance that builds over the course of the movie rather than like scratching that itch of wanting it to feel like every scene I was sort of charming in the right way and emotional in the right way.”

Alice, Darling and friendships

At the core of Alice, Darling is two relationships: One between Alice and her abusive boyfriend Simon (Charlie Carrick) and that of Alice’s friendships. While we don’t see much of Alice and Simon’s relationship in action, we do get to see how Alice reacts to things because of what Simon has done to her and her friends can see how it has affected their friend.

Talking with Kendrick about how those relationships function in the movie was fascinating because there was initially a “temptation” to show more of Simon’s dynamic with Alice but they decided against it. “I think that there’s a temptation to show more of Simon who’s the perpetrator of emotional and psychological abuse in the film. And it was, I think again, sort of scarier, but ultimately more valuable to lean into just showing the impact that it has on Alice because sometimes that’s all we have is like the, the proof that like impact is happening and that when you are kind of falling apart and your internal experience is devastating that, um, you can kind of catalog evidence all you want, but you might not even trust your own perception. So you have to rely on your own experience. And so for the film to just really rely on Alice’s experience was, I think, a really beautiful way to present it as a story,” she said.

Kendrick went on to talk about the friendships in the film and how they work because of how lovely her co-stars are. “And as far as the friendships that we do get to see more of these incredible actresses, Wunmi Mosaku and Kaniehtiio Horn came in and I just fell in love with them instantly. Wunmi is just the warmest person alive,” she said. “Like you meet her and you’re like, oh, you’re my new best friend. Like, she loves me and I love her, and we’re best friends now. And, you know, she just has that effect on everybody. She just couldn’t be lovelier. And then Kaniehtiio is like such a hard nut to crack. She just will not show you anything. But I’m obsessed with people like that. For so long, that’s been my dream of the person I wanna be is just this like tall, punk rock girl. So I was so in love with her immediately and I think that she found me to be like a slightly tolerable little sister or something, just chasing her around. So like those dynamics came together really beautifully.”

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Alice, Darling will be exclusively in AMC Theatres Nationwide January 20, 2023. 

(image: Lionsgate)

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Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.