Anna Kendrick has had an amazing career so far, probably first noticed on the big screen in Twilight, Up in the Air for which she received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for her role as Natalie Keener, and then later in Pitch Perfect. She also has experience in theatre, with A Little Night Music and High Society for which, again, she received critical acclaim and was nominated for a Tony.
So when she was offered the role of Cinderella in the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical Into the Woods, there was no doubt that she could handle this role; her voice has an incredible range. But having never liked other adaptations of Cinderella, what draws people to this version, and what drew her into the role of Cinderella?
“First of all, it was Sondheim that drew me to this Cinderella, and I’m playing a very different Cinderella.” Kendrick speaks with so much sincerity: the love for this play in its entirety is clear, and so the hoards of fans of this cult classic can be reassured that this role is in very safe hands. It is clear that Anna Kendrick loves Into the Woods as much as we all do.
It certainly looks like she truly got to live out one of her dreams when taking on this role, and the whole film feels like the theatrical original has been honoured and actually just poured onto the screen. Though there are 19 principal actors all who more then hold their own on screen, it seems young Anna Kendrick steals focus. So what is it about this Cinderella that makes her so appealing to audiences? Kendrick commented, “I’m not sure I’d be able to achieve that if I were only just playing the first half of the piece, even that seeing what we think of as kind of a two-dimensional [character], she sort of exists as a plot device in a lot of iterations – and to see the person that she becomes once she’s faced with something much greater than herself, and the decisions she makes in those moments is much more interesting,” Clearly this marks the following of a new movement within Disney: that suddenly they are putting out films that empower women, but also deal with real tragedy, and rather than tying everything up nicely we finally get to see what our newest heroines are really made of. Perhaps this is why after several false starts, Into the Woods has finally been adapted to film.
Are we finally finding our heroines? Are we finally seeing what happens after ‘ever after’? Kendrick continues in her passionate, considered pace, clearly wanting to deliver this perfectly and demonstrate that this heroine will not be a disappointment like so many other Disney princesses, finishing off by saying, “Once her personal journey is done, and Sondheim does put so much neurotic energy into her that she is more fun to hang out with than most Cinderellas I think, to see the person she becomes in the face of great tragedy is what makes her appealing.”
Into the Woods is released in UK Cinemas today by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Natalie Fordham spoke to Anna Kendrick at the UK press conference for Into the Woods organised by Walt Disney Studios at the Corinthia Hotel, London.