Twilight Alum Voices "ParaNorman's" Teen Sis
By: Lynn Barker
Petite star Anna Kendrick has been in a ton of indie films, some for adults like Up in the Air but you know her as Bella’s friend Jessica Stanley in the “Twilight” movies. Anna has a ton of films coming up but also provided the voice for cute, junk-in-the-trunk teen sister Courtney in the new stop-motion animated, 3-D film ParaNorman about a group of kids and teens who have to fight zombies to save their town.
Courtney on the phone
Anna and her teen character Courtney
Anna and her teen character Courtney
Anna (right) on the Twilight set
Anna (center) at Bella's Wedding in Breaking Dawn
We wanted to know how Anna got in touch with her inner teen because she is just great at being Courtney in the movie. How does she feel about “Twilight” ending? And, oh yeah, what is it like for an actress when a hot restaurant names a hotdog after you? We’re in Beverly Hills to find out.
Kidzworld: Actors say they love recording voices for animation because you can just show up in your pajamas and do it on your own schedule. Is that how you feel?
- Anna: Yeah. Well, I actually only showed up in pajamas once just to say that I did it. I’d always wanted to do an animated film, always wanted to voice something but didn’t know how one broke into that world. I was lucky enough to have this beautiful and special project fall into my lap. They just called me and offered it to me. Almost, without even reading the script I was like “Yes, yes, yes!”.
It was excited to realize that this was a kids’ adventure movie which was my favorite thing when I was growing up. It’s a band of hooligans trying to save the day and their parents are either nowhere to be found or no help. I used to love stories like that, like The Goonies when people are on their own self-contained adventure. In this case, they’re trying to save the entire town.
Kidzworld: How did you find your inner teen so well (Anna is in her 20’s). You really got your character Courtney down just right.
- Anna: Thank you! I guess I tried to imagine the worst moments of my worst fights with my mom. I’ll be embarrassed about that forever and re-live those moments. I love how volatile she is. One mood swing can take her from being thrilled talking on the phone with a friend to screaming like she’s dying because she spilled a bottle of nail polish. She’s probably not the best person to go on an adventure with.
Kidzworld: Did you talk like she does when you were a teen?
Anna: No. I didn’t use that voice but it was a fun voice to find. All those vocalizations like “Ewwww” and “Urgh”, those were really fun to find. I thought that was embarrassing but I was in a safe space to record them. “Gaaaaa”.. we did all of those in a row at the end of the day. Casey (Affleck who voices the object of Courtney’s affection, jock Mitch) and I got to record together and we got all the dialogue out of the way and the end of the day was just grunting and moaning. It became competitive as to who could embarrass themselves the most. I was also screwing up my body in all kinds of weird positions.Courtney with crush Mitch
Kidzworld: Too much fun! So, how did you get to be brave enough as a kid to embark on an acting career? You were singing on Broadway at age 11 or 12.
- Anna: When I look back it feels brave and scary and strange but, at the time, it was just “This is what I have to do. I don’t have a choice other than this”. I took dance briefly and had this ballet teacher who said that when she was growing up they told her “If you can imagine yourself being happy doing anything but dancing, you should go and do it”. I felt that way about acting. It’s like I didn’t have a choice. I just mean it was all I ever planned on doing.
Kidzworld: How do you like Courtney’s look in the movie, a pony tail and track suits? Huh?
- Anna: I know! I never got into anything like that. But they pointed out to me that Courtney and Mitch are opposite shapes. She’s a triangle (big bottom half) and he’s like an upside down triangle (big top half). They showed me the puppet on my first day and that helped a lot.
Kidzworld: This is your first voice role so was it weird for you to not be able to use your body in your acting as much?
- Anna: It was weirdly freeing. It was helpful to not be worrying about how I was going to look because no matter how you try to be in character and in the moment there is that nagging part of me, that I hope will go away over time, where I tell myself things like “Don’t do that because your mouth looks weird when you do that”.
Kidzworld: We’ve gotta ask. Is it weird for the Twilight films to be ending? You spent a lot of your time on them. (Anna plays Bella’s high school friend in all but the very last film).
- Anna: It’s weird to just not have it on the horizon because it was a part of my life for so long. It’s just like your favorite restaurant closing where you are like “Oh, right. I can’t go there anymore”. I’m not torn up about it but I keep reminding myself that it’s over. I keep imagining I’ll have to go shoot the next one.
Kidzworld: What was your last scene in Breaking Dawn Part 1?
- Anna: It was the wedding where we’re dancing. It was freezing and raining and the middle of the night. We’re pretending it’s summer and it’s really 40 degrees and I’m in a summer dress. This is perfect. Cold and wet but pretending to be warm and happy. We were an hour out into the woods outside of Vancouver. But the whole experience is like going to summer camp where you feel very close to everybody when you’re there. I guess now I’ll have to make more of an effort to see the cast.
Kidzworld: Did you have a fan reaction?
- Anna: Not really. There was one little girl who actually screamed and ran in a circle like she was a puppy. So adorable. Mostly it’s just like “Hey, aren’t you that girl in Twilight? Can I have your picture for Facebook?” I’m just a connection to the movies. I’m a small representative of something they love.
Kidzworld: You are a good singer. Do you miss doing your music?
- Anna: Yeah, I miss music. I just found out that somebody I didn’t suspect was a total Glee club nerd when he was in school. I love finding other choral singing geeks.
Kidzworld: So, Norman in this movie can talk to ghosts. Do you believe that might be possible?
- Anna: I don’t. I like it for entertainment but I just don’t. I had this awkward moment with a guy I was making a movie with a couple of weeks ago (somebody in her upcoming movie called Drinking Buddies). He kind of believed in ghosts and the first conversation we ever had, I had been like “I don’t believe in ghosts. That’s so silly. Who believes in ghosts?” Oh, sorry! Can’t tell you who it was. Don’t want to embarrass him.
Kidzworld: Weren’t you shooting that in Chicago?
- Anna: Yeah and you know what? They have this hotdog place called Hot Doug’s and I went there and they had a hotdog named after me! It was really spicy!! Awesome! The description in the menu was “mighty hot”. Love it. I didn’t have much time and there was a line. I wasn’t going to cut in line but I had to run back to work and I felt bad. I just left in a hurry and I thanked Doug and signed the menu quickly and we ran out. Then I realized we didn’t pay!