Photo courtesy of Disney
Two of Hollywood’s rising stars sat down for a college conference Q&A to talk a little more in-depth about their parts in the upcoming Disney film.
The film is an adaptation of the original Broadway musical that ran in 1987 and took home three Tony Awards.
“Into the Woods” is a take on several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and features classic characters such as Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk. Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine star as Cinderella and Prince Charming, respectively.
“Into the Woods” is slated for release on Christmas Day.
Q: What does this movie offer for different audiences, being adult or children?
Anna Kendrick: Well, I think that thematically, you know, the whole piece is really about parents and children and the disappointments of parents and the failings of parents and, you know, it’s based on stories that parents have told their children for generations.
But, there’s the element where it’s pure fantasy and it’s exciting for kids and then there’s an element that’s really specifically centered towards parents, which is we have to be careful what we tell our children and children take lessons to heart, and it’s sort of about understanding that they’re listening to us even if doesn’t feel that way.
And it’s our responsibility to prepare them for the realities of the world, which is really the second half of the film and right now Chris Pine is harassing me.
Chris Pine: No, I think really where Anna went with that resonates deeply with my own belief, you know?
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?
CP: I think Rob [director Rob Marshall] really set the tone in the beginning. You know, he’s a director that comes from the theater world so, he recognized the importance and the real luxury of having a month of rehearsal before you ever show your wares to the public. And he made sure to build that in.
And even though, all of us, 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. And I think that really helped infuse the project with a sense of community and that we’re all kind of on the same page. And I think you’ll hopefully feel that great feeling in the film.
Q: So, Cinderella and her prince have been portrayed by hundreds of performers in the past —both on-stage and on camera, which are readily available to audiences all over the world.
So, how are each of you taking these roles and making them your own?
CP: I, for my part, you know, everybody in this film goes through these really wonderfully complex journeys and they experience joy and heartache and sorrow and grief. And then my prince is just way more two-dimensional than that and there’s a kind of a wonderfully self-absorbed person and I think that I had a lot of fun bringing some levity to the picture, or tried to; there’s a bit of a buffoon in the prince.
And you know, he realizes I think, finally, Cinderella gives him the chance to really feel and to really connect with her and I think he does for a brief second, but then does make the choice to kind of go back and run off and re-live over and over and over again this storybook life that he is so accustomed to. But, I had a lot of fun making the prince kind of buffoonish.
AK: Uh, I had a lot of fun watching Chris be a buffoon.
AK: A baboon? I think the great thing was that Rob really embraced a modern sensibility for all the characters, because since these stories kind of belong to the ages, you know, it makes sense that in some ways we update them every generation. And the one thing that he allowed me to do was to sort of, be a sort of over-thinking, over-logical, neurotic princess.
I think modern women have a tendency to over-think everything and they don’t trust their gut and 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 happens.
You know, when the community is in crisis, suddenly it’s very clear for her what’s important. And when the prince comes to her and tells her to come back to the castle, it’s very, it’s very — she’s very centered and she’s very calm, more so than she is in any other moment in the piece.
And she just sort of says to the prince, “Like, can you, do you understand me, do we understand each other, do we even live in the same emotional world?” 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. I would also like to point out that I really appreciate Chris Pine’s use of the word picture just now, like he’s under contract at MGM [Studios].
CP: I know.
AK: I enjoyed that, yeah.
CP: I think picture sounds more elegant.
Q: So this question is for Anna, specifically. How did shooting this film compare to shooting “Pitch Perfect” movies?
AK: Um, it was harder, a lot harder. You know, 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, it was just a dream come true.