The Carroll News had the opportunity to speak with actors Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine about their roles in Disney’s new interpretation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods.”
The Carroll News: What does this movie offer for different audiences, being adults or children?
Anna Kendrick: I think that thematically, the whole piece is really about parents and children and the disappointments of parents and the failings of parents and children for generations. But there’s the element where it’s pure fantasy, and it’s exciting for kids. Then there’s an element that’s specifically centered towards parents, which is [that] we have to be careful what we tell our children, and it’s sort of about understanding that they’re listening to us even if it doesn’t feel that way.
Q: With such a strong cast, with Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt and of course yourselves, what was the vibe like on set, and what was the biggest advantage of working with such a talented group?
Chris Pine: I think Rob [Marshall] really set the tone in the beginning. He’s a director that comes from the theater world, so he recognized the importance and the luxury of having a month of rehearsal before you even show your wares to the public. And even though we didn’t get a chance to work with everyone, we did get a chance in that month to see one another and to see what everybody was doing. I think that really helped infuse the project with a sense of community, that we’re all kind of on the same page. And I think you’ll hopefully feel that in the film.
Q: Cinderella and her prince have been portrayed by hundreds of performers in the past both on stage and on camera, who are readily available to audiences all over the world. So, how are each of you taking these roles and making them your own?
CP: Everybody in this film goes through these wonderfully complex journeys and they experience joy, heartache, sorrow and grief. And the prince is just way more two-dimensional than that, I think that I had a lot of fun bringing some levity to the picture, or tried to.
AK: Rob really embraced a modern sensibility for all the characters. Since these stories kind of belong to the ages, it makes sense that in some ways we update them. And the one thing that he allowed me to do so was to be an over-thinking, over-logical, neurotic princess. I think modern women have a tendency to over-think everything and they don’t trust their gut. We have to look at everything from every angle and find the right decision, and she’s doing that the entire piece until something that she really has to reckon with what happens. And she just sort of says to the prince, ‘do you understand me, do we understand each other?’ And when the answer is no, it’s just very easy for her to say I choose the unknown. I don’t want to – even though you represent security and a better life, I choose the unknown.
Q : You performed a great country song in “Someday Came Today” in “Small Town Saturday Night”, but obviously it’s a very different genre that a Sondheim musical. How was it being about to flex your singing chops more on screen, and in such a different style?
CP : It was a lot of fun and it was totally different than what I had done before. The musical theater genre is very specific and the sound that you’re going for is obviously quite different than something like the country music I did before. But I had a lot of fun learning the ins and outs of the technique and of the genre, and I had a lot of incredibly talented people who had worked in this medium before, from Anna to Meryl and Christine. So I had a lot of fun and a lot of good company around me.
Q : So this question is for Anna, specifically. How did shooting this film compare to shooting Pitch Perfect movies?
AK : It was a lot harder. We’re singing pop music in Pitch Perfect and we’re singing Sondheim in this, so I was petrified and excited. It was an unbelievable challenge but obviously singing Sondheim is so rewarding and fulfilling and it was just a dream come true.