CULTURE DIET

Ahead of A Simple Favor 2, Anna Kendrick Filmed Her Darkest Movie Yet

Anna Kendrick staring out a window in 'Alice, Darling'
Courtesy of Lionsgate

It’s somewhat difficult to understand why Anna Kendrick signed on to Alice, Darling, the film that’s been winning her praise at this week’s Toronto Film Festival. It’s not only a tale of emotional abuse; Kendrick was also still traumatized from a similar experience of her own when she arrived to set in Toronto. (The city premiered the film at its festival’s 47th annual edition, where Kendrick was praised for her best performance since Up in the Air [2009] earned her an Oscar nomination.) But from the moment she read the script, Kendrick knew that Alice, Darling wasn’t your typical take on a subject that’s often portrayed without nuance on-screen. So, she signed on—and ended up having a blast. From the way she tells it, when they weren’t filming, the cast and crew were basically at summer camp. Here, more about her experience and what pop culture she’s been consuming lately in her Culture Diet.

Congrats on this film—and congrats on avoiding all the drama that’s come with the other current one with “Darling” in its title.

So weird, right? We were like, Oh, that’s funny—there’s a movie with “darling” in the title, and the main character’s name is Alice? Parallel thinking is so terrifying to me. It feels like there shouldn't be coincidences in the world like that.

You recently talked about your own recent experience with emotional abuse. Why did you decide to put yourself through what I would have imagined to be a triggering shoot?

I guess I don’t think of it as “putting through,” as it were. The reason why the script really resonated with me is that Alanna Francis, the screenwriter, did such an amazing job of putting the heaviness of the atmosphere—that relentless, oppressive tone—on the page. We had to quarantine when we got to Canada, so by the time we arrived on set, we were making up for lost time. The first day was me meeting with every department and having 17 conversations about everybody’s personal experience with this stuff. It was remarkable to see how common [abuse] is, and also encouraging, because it meant everybody had the same reaction to the script as I did, and had the same sense of wanting to make something honest and subtle and trust that would be enough. Whether somebody on the crew or in the cast had had an experience like [Alice] themselves, or knew someone that did, it felt very personal. It felt like there was a sense of responsibility.

How do you decompress after a day on an emotionally taxing set?

Again, the quarantine rules were very, very strict when we shot this. We could only really see each other, so it’s a good thing the cast fell in love. It was picturesque, and frankly, adorable. We stayed in these little cabins on the lake right next door to each other and would have barbecues, wade in the pool, walk to the ice cream place, and just make each other laugh. We were joking that the film would have a great blooper real. There was such room for levity and playfulness in between the scenes, because you can’t live in that [heaviness] for that long.

Getting into the Culture Diet questions, what’s the first thing you read in the morning?

Oh god. Don’t ask me that, because it’s Twitter, and that’s so humiliating.

Actually, people normally say emails, so it’s nice to have a change.

Oh no, I can’t start the day with emails. I have to actually check my email to check my email because I don’t have notifications for it. It feels more digestible if it’s like, “Okay, I’m choosing to engage with my email.” Actually, the first thing I do is go to my texts, and usually there’s one from my best friend being like, “How do we feel about this real housewife?” I don’t watch the Real Housewives, but I’m absolutely going to admit that if he asks me, “How do we feel about so and so from Love Island,” I’m going to have opinions.

What are some of your favorite accounts to follow on Twitter?

I love Louis Virtel [host of the podcast Keep It and writer on Jimmy Kimmel Live]. I actually remember trying to explain to Shirley MacLaine what Twitter is, what Twitter does—and I was showing her Louis Virtel’s Twitter feed because I thought she would enjoy his the most.

I’m a big Keep It fan, too. What other podcasts do you listen to?

I love Armchair Expert, You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes, and Psychology in Seattle. Oh, and you have to listen to Sweet Bobby, but don’t read anything about it first.

When’s the last time you went to the movie theater?

I saw Last Night in Soho, and then I saw the new Scream. So it’s been a while. That’s bad.

What’s the last movie you streamed?

I actually had to buy it, because finding it on streaming was challenging. The English title is usually Footprints on the Moon (1975), but on Amazon it was called Primal Impulse, which should have been my first clue. I swear, it felt like I was streaming someone’s bootlegged copy.

What’s your phone background right now?

It has been, and will remain, Rosalind Russell in The Women (1939).

Do you read your horoscope?

I don’t. I don’t get astrology. When the new generation started getting really into rising signs and moon signs and stuff, I was like, “Oh, this is work.” You have to really be in it to follow it, so kudos. Maybe I’m missing out, but I don’t have the bandwidth.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed?

Again, I wish it was something useful, but it’s probably just online shopping and then closing out of all of the online shopping tabs. It’s very therapeutic to me to imagine a world where I buy this flowing dress and this sensible heel and wear them around on my long walks that I don’t take. And then by the end of the night, I’m like, “You’re not this person,” and I just click out of it.

Lastly, what can you tell me about A Simple Favor 2?

The goal is to make it next year. I don’t think I can tell you anything other than that the script is unbelievably clever and so good and I can’t wait.

Do you think she escapes from prison or gets off? Well, I guess you know...

Well, I know, but I’m not going to tell you. [Laughs.]