ANNA KENDRICK has been a very busy woman.
This year she's been pregnant in "What to Expect When You're Expecting," she was the voice of Nora in "Family Guy" and the voice of Courtney in "ParaNorman." She played Jake Gyllenhaal's wife in "End of Watch," and in "Pitch Perfect," she's a college freshman who wants to be a mash-up music producer but begrudgingly joins an a cappella singing group.
Oh, she also has four films in the can awaiting release.
"I filmed seven movies in 2011 and I think that was a mistake," she said by phone from New York this week. "I pushed myself too hard and I want to be able to come to work each day and give 100 percent. I guess I found out what my boundaries are."
Kendrick said she won't undertake a schedule like that again, but . . . "If there are seven [great] opportunities in one year, it's hard to say no and not want to push yourself."
As for going back to college after a number of more adult roles (she memorably played a corporate downsizer in 2009's "Up in the Air" and a psychologist in 2011's "50/50"), she said, "I guess as long as people think of me for different ages, I'll trust their opinion. I remember noticing one year that Michelle Monaghan played 34 and 19, so I've kind of clung to that as my justification that I can be Jake Gyllenhaal's wife and a freshman in college in the same year.
"Just today at the airport somebody asked me if I was traveling with a guardian.
"Yeah, I wish that was a joke."
Kendrick, who sang on Broadway and on screen in the underrated "Camp," would seem to be a natural for a comedy/musical like "Pitch Perfect," but, she said, "the music isn't what drew me in at all."
"If anything, the singing element was a deterrent, because you're just making yourself more vulnerable. Although I've sung on screen before, I haven't done it as the face of a studio movie and it would have been a lot easier if the script were terrible. But every page by Kay Cannon, our writer, just blew me away. So I was willing to deal with the fact that people were going to be asking me for the next year, 'Oh, is it like 'Glee'?'
"I almost wished that we could replace a cappella with chess or something equally dorky, because I knew that the singing part was going to be an added stress."
Kendrick said the lead actresses got about a month of rehearsal - "choreography and music and trying to make guitar sounds with your mouth."
In part, her immersion into the world of a cappella took her back to when she first moved to Los Angeles.
"A friend of mine had a crush on a guy in an a cappella group," she said, "so I got dragged to this USC-UCLA competition and I thought it was going to be the most excruciating night of my life, and by the end of it I was like, 'Oh my God, these guys are rock stars. Can we meet them?' If the stakes are really high within that subculture, you're like a god.
"I think you have to have a certain kind of dorkiness inside of you to sing a cappella, but I grew up singing in choir," she added. "And there's something so satisfying when everybody knows their parts and you hear the harmonies for the first time and you add shape and tone and you really start putting the puzzle together."
So Kendrick can sing, but can she really DJ?
"No. That was one of the things that we ran out of time for in prep. I was like, 'Somebody's going to show me how to do this and teach me about this stuff, right?' And it didn't happen, so then I refused to let them show me actually doing anything. It's a lot of close-ups of hands and computers because I have friends who do this and I'm not going to be on-screen committing some atrocity. Obviously you don't want to do anything on screen you haven't been taught how to do."
Contact Howard Gensler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-5678.