Actress Anna Kendrick stars with George Clooney and Vera Farmiga in Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, a film about a man who flies across America firing people from their jobs. Although perhaps best known for her role as Bella’s friend Jessica in the Twilight films, Anna was recently in London to talk about Up in the Air. See what she has to say about telling off George Clooney and having a meltdown in a hotel lobby.
Up in the Air is a joyful script to listen to. It must have been a pleasure for you to read. How did you assess your character when you first read the script? Your character is a bit more explained from the word go, but we do discover a bit more about her and about her background. What appealed to you about it?
Anna Kendrick (AK):
First it's that sort of rare thing, this girl who's so intelligent and complicated and her character does not revolve around a romantic storyline. And that was enough to make it fascinating in itself because it just doesn't happen, you don't read scripts like that. And I guess I'm normally so timid in real life that I get really excited by characters who get to kind of tell people off and telling off George Clooney was pretty awesome.
There's a wonderful scene where you go to pieces in the airport after receiving a text message from your boyfriend. How much of that was in the script and how much of it was you on the day?
You mean in terms of the crying? I don't really remember what was in the script exactly, other than that she just starts crying. And I knew that, like so many of the scenes that in some ways are really heartbreaking for me and for [my character] Natalie and there's almost this desire to play it really heartbreaking and really unfunny, I think. I knew it was supposed to be funny but that it couldn't really be funny for me. And it was a long day of sort of trying different noises and it was kind of brutal, because I was so upset all day. And Jason would demonstrate occasionally, because he knew I was running out of juice, various squeaks and moans and wails and stuff and trying to find the right thing that was still not funny to me, but hopefully funny to other people.
There were lots of different real-life locations in this film, including several different airports. When you had the meltdown, was that in an actual airport lounge?
Well, actually, it was in a hotel lobby. It was a little uncomfortable. I guess because it was a hotel, we could sort of shut down the lobby, so there weren't that many Looky Lous, but it was still just the space and the extras and even though they're part of the film, you don't really know them and it's still sort of embarrassing, but I think on that particular day it was less about other people and was just more about the space and feeling very – I wanted something to grab onto, it was a very uncomfortable day.
Your character has her views of love and life deeply challenged in this film. Did it affect your own views on those in any way? Was it hard to resist them when someone as seductive as George Clooney is trying to lure you to the lone wolf side?
I think obviously Natalie has really considered ideas about what she wants and what she expects and I don't have many of those same ideas, so I know that there are things that I want and expect from life that I won't get and refuse to accept just yet. But her views on love are not my views on love.
You've gone from playing quite a small role in Twilight, which was obviously a huge success, to playing a lead role in this film, which will obviously be a big success too and against George Clooney, which is amazing. How did you feel when you got this role?
I was sort of shocked beyond belief, because I thought Jason hated me. My audition was very strange and I think Jason was not trying to psych me out by not showing any kind of enthusiasm, but I thought he hated me and then when I got the job I was so shocked and I thought, 'Oh, he's just like that – he's just going to be a tyrant on set,' but he's very, very nice. But yeah, I was very surprised and thrilled beyond words, I mean, the script is so beautiful.
And I sort of didn't really think that George was doing it – for whatever reason, I just assumed that it was too good to be true, for a script to be this good and to be working with George Clooney. I just thought it was one of those things that was rumoured and then Jason told me the Italy story and I got really excited. And that was one of those moments where I was sitting at lunch with him trying to act like, 'Oh, right, of course I'm going to be in a movie with George Clooney, because I do that sort of thing.'