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SDCC2012: A Roundtable Interview with “ParaNorman” Star Anna Kendrick

by on July 26, 2012

Anna KendrickAnna Kendrick, who has earned Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice Movie, and Academy Award nominations for her role in 2009’s Up in the Air, lends her voice to Courtney in LAIKA’s upcoming film ParaNorman.  Kendrick also performed in the first four Twilight Saga movies, 50/50, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

At the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, Toonzone News was able to sit down with Kendrick for a roundtable interview session with several other members of the press. 

(noticing the Courtney statue)

ANNA KENDRICK: Oh, It’s my table! Yay!  She’s so fuzzy.

Q: I assume that’s not proportional.

ANNA KENDRICK: Yeah, no she’s…damn. Damn girl. No,  I like it.  One interesting thing is that I have a crush on Casey Affleck’s character, and he’s sort of the opposite shape.

Q: The jock.

ANNA KENDRICK: Yeah, the jock.  He’s like the upside down triangle, and I’m like the regular triangle.  I think that was intentional.  They told me that when I came in.

Q: Really?

ANNA KENDRICK: Yeah.  Our bodies are like the opposite.

Q: It seems like you’re very animated.  Was this a natural transition to do voice over work for you?

ANNA KENDRICK: Yeah.  I was really nervous.  I always wanted to do it and so I jumped at the chance, but I was really nervous going in because I’m really not very good at ADR, and that’s my only experience doing anything like this, but this was so different and so freeing and pure.  It really feels like you’re doing the purest form of acting because you don’t have to be worried about not leaving frame, not getting in front of that actor’s light, and you’re so not bound by your physicality. It can be a hindrance in live action and you get to use all of it to get one thing across in your voice.  It’s really great.

Q: What was the inspiration for your character?

ANNA KENDRICK: I never had a little brother, but I guess this is how you are with your mom when you’re a teenage girl.  It’s just very eye-rolling and exasperated sighs, so my poor mom was probably treated to a lot of the noises that Courtney makes in frustration.

ParaNorman CourtneyQ: Is it surprising to see your voice come out of something so different from yourself?

ANNA KENDRICK: Yeah, it’s definitely weird.  I think because you’re obviously so used to your own voice.  I watched the movie and every time Courtney speaks I think, “Oh no that doesn’t sound right” and everybody must be thinking that doesn’t match up or doesn’t make sense, but you know, I guess that’s just the way you feel when it’s your voice and it’s something else.

Q: Do you feel that the expressions they captured on her face match up with yours in real life?

ANNA KENDRICK: Her face is so different from me, it’s difficult to say, but I think some of the physicality is there.  I realized in the recording sessions I kept kind of falling over, like kind of bending at the waist like I was so tired of life being so hard and I think that a lot of that is kind of in her. She’s constantly so frustrated by how supposedly difficult her life is that she’s almost toppling over.

Q: They use so many faces, do you have one that’s your favorite face for what they built for your character?

ANNA KENDRICK: I mostly like Mitch’s face. The jock’s face. His blank stare when he’s trying to figure something out or when he’s working through stuff. Yeah, Courtney’s very animated, but my favorite is Mitch’s blank stare.

Q: When you got the script and you read it and did your ADR not knowing how it was eventually going to turn out. Any surprises that now that you’ve seen her speak and seen her move? Or where you took it vocally in one direction and visually they took it somewhere different?

ANNA KENDRICK: One really helpful thing was about halfway through the process they could show me a scene.  It wasn’t finished and some of it was still just storyboards and some of it was almost finished shots and then all of a sudden I could see how it was coming together and how I should change my performance. There were some things I did in that first session that ended up in the movie,  but then there were things that once I could see how the scene was supposed to go, I could totally see why something needed to feel a different way, and it was great.  It was like being allowed in the editing booth of a movie and being able to go back and reshoot things based on that.

Q: We were talking about the concept of a zombie apocalypse


Q: What would you like to imagine that your reaction would be to such an event?

ANNA KENDRICK: I have to say I’m kind of a spaz, but in emergency situations, I think I’m pretty good.  Like I wouldn’t think I would be that person.  I’ve only lived through a couple minor earthquakes, but every time, I’ve been the one who is like, “Okay, everybody, find a doorway, stand there, it’s going to be cool,” you know, like, “Don’t grab that, it’s going to fall, it’s totally fine, we’ll buy a new one,” and so I feel like I would be the one who is just like, “Okay, we’re going to get in the car, we’re going to get our earthquake kit because we have one, and we’re going to just drive out to the first place that we can think of that’s pretty isolated.” I don’t know, I feel like I’d be pretty cool under pressure.

ParaNorman Gym ClassQ: Would you add anything to your earthquake kit to make it specific?

ANNA KENDRICK: For zombies?  That’s a good question.  Um, like brains, you know?  I could raid a hospital, get some brains, throw them in there, and just throw them off the trail.

Q: Or they could track you down and it’s quick.

ANNA KENDRICK: Oh, a double edged sword.  I see.  Okay, I’ll have to think that through. Yeah yeah yeah I’ll have to think it through.  I’m just saying if it’s an emergency, then you can like throw out a brain and distract them.  Like a polar bear, you’re supposed to take off your clothes because then they stop and they sniff all your clothes, but then you die because you freeze to death.

Q: Unless it’s like the island on Lost.

ANNA KENDRICK: Are there polar bears on Lost?  That show is crazy.

Q: In the first season there was.

ANNA KENDRICK: Right, everyone says that.  It’s so good but then they’re like it gets really weird but it’s worth it.  It doesn’t sound worth it.

Q: Are you into those kinds of movies?  Zombies in general.

ANNA KENDRICK: I mean, I’m interested in films in general, but horror is not my love.  I have a soft spot for action. I don’t have that same kind of soft spot for horror, but I appreciate it.  Somebody was asking me my favorite zombie movie, you know, and I like Zombie 2 where it’s just insane and there’s clay eyeballs and zombies fighting sharks.

Q: Right, I was going to say the one with the shark.

ANNA KENDRICK: Yeah.  Yeah yeah yeah yeah.

Q: Fake zombie, real shark.

ANNA KENDRICK: Yeah, exactly.  Shark trainer in a zombie suit.  But still, pretty awesome.

Man, who had Mexican for dinner?Q: When you do voiceover, and it sounds like a really fun process. Is it hard to get into those harrowing situations where you have to be in the horror movie for a moment and scream and freak out?

ANNA KENDRICK: It was easier to do in animation as long as your voice is getting across that you’re terrified. If I were doing a horror film, I would have to be kind of–I couldn’t do this thing where I’ve got my hands in my hair and I’m twisting my ankles and I look all kind of contorted, you know, I don’t think the director would go for that.  You’re supposed to look all sleek and sexy and shiny and it was great to be able to do that for my big epic screaming scenes.

Q: So we shouldn’t expect too many behind the scenes photos of you contorted.

ANNA KENDRICK: No, I basically made them sign in blood that they couldn’t use the footage of me being animated.

Q: Thanks for chatting with us.


Toonzone News would like to thank Anna Kendrick for taking the time to speak with us, and the Laika/ParaNorman PR teams for arranging it. ParaNorman will open in theaters on August 17, 2012.

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