Anna Kendrick looks even smaller than usual sitting at a conference table in a hotel boardroom with a fluffy white bathrobe over her clothes. "I was freezing," she apologizes. The air conditioning finally got the best of her.
Kendrick's at the Toronto Film Festival with End Of Watch, the latest testosterone thriller from writer/director David Ayer. As the girlfriend of Jake Gyllenhaal's film student cop, Kendrick's intelligence and warmth serve as counterbalance to the swaggering and posturing of his hours on the job.
The movie was conceived as a project being shot and edited by Gyllenhaal's character, which meant Ayer could position cameras in all sorts of unlikely places.
"You never really knew where the camera was," Kendrick says. "There are cameras everywhere. Some of the actors were using hand-held cameras, and then there were some more traditional camera operators working, and when those were reloading Jake or Michael [Peña] would pick up a camera and film something. There wasn't a second of the day where we weren't putting something on film. It feels like you're doing theatre in the round. You're just so present, and forced to be in this world and in this character. So improv bled into scripted dialogue, and vice versa."
Kendrick says the shoot made her feel like more of a collaborator in the filmmaking process than usual.
"A lot of people feel as though it's a detriment to their art to ever be thinking about the camera - where the lens is, what the composition is," she says. "Some people don't think that that's very pure, but I love that. In movies like Sullivan's Travels or, you know, His Girl Friday, those women were very aware of the camera and think of themselves as though they're posing for portraits in some way. I don't think that's a negative thing; they understood composition."
Kendrick's Oscar nomination for Up In The Air and her role in the Twilight saga raised her profile considerably higher than she'd ever imagined. Perhaps as a corrective, she's spent most of her time since then avoiding big studio pictures and building a resumé as a character actor, turning up as Michael Cera's sister in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's untested therapist in 50/50, and an FBI agent in Robert Redford's TIFF 2012 entry The Company You Keep.
But she's playing a far larger role in the glee club comedy Pitch Perfect, which opens next week. Kendrick says she couldn't resist the screenplay by 30 Rock writer/producer Kay Cannon.
"It's that voice that I loved," she says. "Part of me was really hesitant about doing it - it's a tricky thing to get right. But when I'd reread the script, you know, just her voice and her humour was the thing that made me go, ‘This is really special.'"