Near-ubiquity can be a death knell for even the most winning celebrities (we’re pulling for you, Anne Hathaway). But omnipresence has yet to betray Anna Kendrick. The 31-year-old Oscar- and Tony-nominated actress, who moved to L.A. from Maine in her late teens, has been in six movies over the past year and five times as many as that since 2003. Her self-deprecating tweets have become the stuff of internet listicle legend, and every foul-mouthed, magnetic interview she gives would suggest we are all Anna Kendrick and she is all of us. (She survived on coconut Snoballs and Fritos during her first months in L.A., just as you probably did.)
“ ‘I talk about this in the book’ is going to be my catchphrase for the next five years.”
Such likability only bodes well for her first collection of essays, Scrappy Little Nobody (out November 15), which tells stories of her sexual exploits, career highlights, and earliest years in Los Angeles. The book echoes the candid tone she’s become known for on social media, and while it covers a lot (“It’s my whole life,” she whispers conspiratorially), it doesn’t quite cover it all. Here she talks her fantasy a cappella group and the merits of Taco Bell nachos.
Soundtrack to a musical montage of your life?
You know those compilation CDs that used to be advertised on TV? I bought Pure Funk, and one of the first songs was “Brick House.” I was like, “This is the coolest piece of music I will ever hear,” and I wanted it to be my theme song immediately, even though it describes someone who is the opposite of me: A voluptuous, strong, athletic woman who is probably not white. But in my heart I feel like a brick house.
In your book you say if acting hadn’t worked out, you might have been a “prudish porn star.” What would your stage name be?
According to the game—your first pet’s name and the street you grew up on—it would be Pixie Fuller. That’s a little dirty, so it works.
You bake. Dessert that best reps L.A.?
A Swedish Princess Cake.
Someone watches The Great British Bake Off.
I do watch The Great British Bake Off, but I have made a Swedish Princess Cake before, when I was 21 or 22.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve made, I think.
Why is L.A. a Swedish Princess Cake?
Because it’s just really light sponge and really light cream and a little fruit jam. It’s sugar on top of sugar on top of sugar. There’s nothing in a Swedish Princess Cake that cuts it—like, are we going to say that the almond flavor in the marzipan cuts it? Because that’s pure sugar as well.
Name for your L.A.-based bakery that would never be publicist-approved?
So we’re going for double entendre?
OK, I get it. When I was baking a lot, there was a tweet I thought of about the pages of my cookbook sticking together, because when you bake you get stuff all over the cookbook. And I was like, Oh, that’s what guys say about porn magazines! Nobody thought it was funny but me. So it’s like, “I’m so into pastry that the pages of my cookbook stick together,” but I don’t know how to condense that into a bakery name. Maybe that’d be our motto? “We’re so into pastry that the pages of our cookbook stick together”? It’s one of those jokes that you have to explain, which is really the best kind of comedy.
A musical revue of your life opens tonight at the Pantages. What’s it called?
Vertically Challenged. Or Drive-In Matinee.
Listen, listen, listen. When I was nine, I was like, If I ever release an indie rock album, it would be called Drive-In Matinee—because you wouldn’t be able to see a drive-in matinee. I thought I was being really clever.
Who’d play you?
James Marsden, because I have a perverse desire to see him in heels. Is that weird? Has he awakened something in anybody else?
Me, ever since Hairspray. So I feel you. Four Angelenos you’d recruit for your dream a cappella group?
Adam Lambert, who was one of my first friends in L.A. He did my makeup on the night that we met. And then five years later I was like, “Oh, do you sing? Oh, I see.” That’s on me, I did not know that. Steve Martin seems really musical, and we should have someone with a music theory background. Kelley Jakle, who is one of the unsung heroes of Pitch Perfect. She always knows everybody’s parts, so she would do all the legwork. And then maybe Emily Rarararara…?
Ratajkowski? The model?
Yeah, the one whose last name I get too nervous to say. I don’t know if she sings or not, but if our group was a train wreck, she’d just stand on stage in a trash bag or a cardboard box people would be like, “This is great! I am having a great time!”
Former costar you’d want to be serenaded by?
Rebel Wilson for sure. I’ve heard a lot of technically great singing in my life, and there are times when you just want a passionate Australian to throw things like pitch and tone out the window in favor of soul and emotion. It’s not that she’s not a proficient singer, it’s that she doesn’t let that get in the way of the message.
You love Taco Bell. And also Ariana Grande. Nachos BellGrande or Ariana Grande?
I’d commit several murders to keep certain Taco Bell menu items in the world. But. Eating nachos while driving: risky. Eating nachos at home: soggy. Ariana Grande: always perfect. So Ariana Grande, and I’m going to stick to my Gordita Crunch. It’s the perfect food because it’s all the textures.
Disney character who’d be the least annoying paparazzo?
Fox Robin Hood, who’s weirdly hot. Way more attracted to Fox Robin Hood than Prince Eric. He’d be really charming, and I’d be like, “Oh fox Robin Hood! All those other guys give you a bad name. You’re one of the good ones, aren’t you?”
Anna Kendrick will be at Barnes and Noble at the Grove on November 21, where she will take photos with fans who purchase a pre-signed copy of Scrappy Little Nobody.
Marielle Wakim is the Arts and Culture Editor at Los Angeles magazine. She went viral once, which is not how she thought she’d spend her 15 minutes of fame. You can follow her on Twitter @mariellewakim, on Instagram @marielle.m.n.o.p, and on her website. She wrote A Discourse on Frozen Yogurt.