Quick Interview: Scott Pilgrim's Michael Cera & Anna Kendrick
by Marco Cerritos
August 14, 2010
In a crowded summer movie season several movies are putting their best foot forward to get your attention and have you part with your money. The last few months have seen many disappointments in what is one of the worst summers ever. But as the season winds down, one of this year's dark horses has finally emerged - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Based on Brian Lee O'Malley's comics, Scott Pilgrim is a totally different kind of superhero movie, relying on wit and nostalgia instead of explosions and secret lairs. Our own Marco caught up with two of the stars of the movie - Michael Cera and Anna Kendrick - for a quick interview.
The following is a brief conversation Michael and Anna had with FirstShowing's Marco Cerritos while in San Francisco discussing the intense experience of bringing the comic book to life in a hyper-realistic way.
You're obviously doing all these interviews back-to-back. Is that something you can get used to?
Cera: I think it gets easier. Having people ask you the same questions gets easier.
Kendrick: I have to say I like doing it with Michael, doing it alone is taxing. It's a sad, lonely, dark place.
How familiar were you with the source material prior to the movie?
Cera: I'd never read comics but I had read this one for some reason. A friend of mine was describing it to me one day and it sounded really good so I went and got it. The first two volumes had been out and I loved them. And I'm from Toronto.
Kendrick: Not me. I'm a loser.
There's always the question of how likeable or unlikeable the character of Scott Pilgrim is. What kinds of discussions did you have with Edgar Wright prior to shooting to find the right balance for the character?
Cera: Nothing that I was involved in, but I'm sure Edgar was involved in that a lot. I was surprised when I saw the movie how heartless he is at certain times.
Kendrick: But I feel like he's that way in the books. I just read Vol. 6 and he's definitely the hero of his own story but that's what makes you relate to him.
How was your working relationship with Edgar Wright?
Cera: Really amazing. It was different from anything I had ever done. It was a different actor-director relationship as far as what he was asking of people, because he knew what he wanted and knew exactly what he was making. But at the same time I always felt like I had ownership of the character. His choices in shot design and look of the film works really well.
How much did Edgar present to you visually before the shoot began, since there are a lot of effects-heavy shots and stunt work?
Cera: He showed us a lot, every test that he did.
Kendrick: He certainly wasn't trying to keep us in the dark even though some directors do that which I think is strange.
Cera: And that made total sense because the more he showed us the more we knew what we were making which was very helpful. For example, we would be shooting for a few weeks and he'd show us some cut footage which gave us a good sense of tone for the comedy.
How physically demanding was the role and were you excited to kick some ass?
Cera: I was excited and it was physically demanding because we did training so we could do basic things so we wouldn't get sick. If we hadn't done that I think it would've been disastrous. Moving your body that much take after take is exhausting even if you're just doing basic moves.
When you're on set what kinds of things do you look for in a director to make you feel more comfortable as an actor?
Kendrick: Honestly, I feel there's no good way to put this because it's so obvious, but it's just the feeling that someone gives a shit. It's the only thing I ask for and the only time I clam up is when I don't get that.
Cera: That's a good way to put it, someone that has your back. And also it's very comforting for me that someone knows what they're doing and what kind of movie they're making. You don't have to worry about doing something that isn't going to work because they care so much that they would never let that happen.
What directors fall into those categories?
Kendrick: I've been lucky. Most, most, most, most directors. That's all I'm saying. Everyone except that one director.
Anna, what draws you to certain roles because you seem to have movies like Up in the Air in one corner and the Twilight series in the other.
Kendrick: I don't have a strategy. If I knew how to do that I'd be a super-agent instead of doing this. The movie I just finished, I wanted to play someone really soft and vulnerable because I was coming off Up in the Air and had no idea what I was doing. I was at awards shows and felt really lost so it was good to play someone who was really lost.
Then how did the experience of playing this character match up for you?
Kendrick: I don't want to say challenging, but it was tricky. I hope the audience doesn't see this but whenever I watch it all I see is me counting in my head. I feel like I'm the girl on the dance floor going one, two, three, one, two, three.
How do you feel about the audience reaction to the film especially at Comic-Con?
Cera: That was overwhelmingly positive, all the screenings and events were fun. It felt like playing a rock concert. I think we're a bit spoiled by that because now every time we see it if they're not cheering it's going to seem dead.
How different or similar was shooting this film to your previous work?
Cera: There was a lot of blue screen stuff, I hadn't done that before. Wire-work, there was a lot of that too.
Anna, do you wish you had done some of the more physical stuff, too?
Kendrick: Since it's over I can safely say yes, but I'm pretty lazy.
Is there one question that keeps coming up you wish would go away? I'm guessing it's "Arrested Development" stuff for you, Michael.
Cera: I don't mind it so much. But when people say "What's going on? Michael what's going on?" I get really tired of that.
The opposite of that is what question do you think people should ask but they never do?
Cera: I can't think of a question I want to be asked. I'm sure there's a good one.
Kendrick: I'm done talking about George Clooney and Robert Pattinson. That's all. I'm done. I've said all there is to say.
Thank you to Universal as well as Michael Cera and Anna Kendrick for the interview. Scott Pilgrim vs the World is currently playing in theaters, so go check it out! Highly recommend.