Etiquette

Anna Kendrick Threatens to Eat Your Family…While Giving You Life Advice

The actor tells us how her improv went a little too far on the set of "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates," before solving our listeners' wedding gift gripes and sing-a-long sorrows.

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Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this time around is star of stage, screen, and song, Anna Kendrick.

Anna spent part of her teen years on Broadway, winning a Tony nomination for the musical “High Society” at age 13. That’s pretty classy. She earned an Oscar nomination for her performance opposite George Clooney in “Up in the Air.”

Since then, she’s starred in films like “Into the Woods” and the mega-hit “Pitch Perfect.” In the new comedy, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” Anna plays one of the titular dates alongside Aubrey Plaza. Their characters answer a Craigslist ad from two guys seeking “nice girls” to take to their sister’s wedding, but these ladies turn out to be rather not nice.

Brendan Francis Newnam: It’s a little raunchy, is what I’m trying to say, and Anna, it’s great to have you back on our show.

Anna Kendrick: Thanks for having me. Yeah, that sounds about right. I always love it when people say, “She won a Tony nomination,” because it sort of makes it sound like I didn’t lose.

Rico Gagliano: But that’s true. It’s an honor just being nominated, isn’t it?

Anna Kendrick: It is, and it’s an honor to lose to Audra McDonald because, really, who do you want to lose to? Who do you want to lose a Tony to? Probably Audra.

Rico Gagliano: She’s won more Tonys than anybody else in history, I believe?

Anna Kendrick: Yeah. So, which means she leaves a trail of tears behind her of losers.

Rico Gagliano: I know. It’s like, this year I was watching the Tonys thinking, imagine being someone nominated in a musical category, if you were not in “Hamilton.” What a pointless exercise.

Anna Kendrick: That’s grim.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, there was apparently a ton of improvising on this film. According to the director, the first cut of this was five hours long?

Anna Kendrick: Yeah. There’s definitely enough footage to make three movies. When we were making it, I was like, “I don’t even know what version of this movie we’re going to make,” because we would do, like, 18 different versions of everything. And there was a point where I was like, “Should we all just say the entire dictionary into the camera, and then you can just make anything you want? This could be a World War I epic, if you wanted.”

There’s definitely stuff that’s in the movie that I don’t remember doing. It feels like a fever dream.

Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick and Zac Efron likely in the midst of improving on the set of "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates." (Photo Credit: Gemma LaMana)
Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick and Zac Efron likely in the midst of improving on the set of “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” (Photo Credit: Gemma LaMana)

Brendan Francis Newnam: It could be choose your own adventure. You could give people different endings.

Anna Kendrick: That’s a great idea! New movie! Million-dollar idea.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Thank you.

Rico Gagliano: Oh, man. That’s going to be on the Blu-ray, I’m pretty sure.

Brendan Francis Newnam: We’ll talk after this interview.

Rico Gagliano: Do you remember stuff that you were kind of disappointed didn’t make it into the film?

Anna Kendrick: Well, there’s a deleted scene where a pig explodes, which I know just sounds a little over-the-top. But that got deleted. And the only reason that made me really sad was that that was the night that I sort of got too into character and started freaking out at the director, and it’s all on camera. And I was like, “Oh, my God! That’s going to be the funniest blooper.”

And they can’t put the blooper in for a scene that’s not in the movie. You know? It was, like, one of those moments where I was screaming profanity at my director, and he was like, “Oh, my God. You’re so funny!” But I was like, “I’m serious! I will kill you! I will eat your family alive!”

The possible look Anna Kendrick gives before threatening to eat your family alive. (Photo Credit: Gemma LaMana.)
The look Anna Kendrick gives before threatening to eat your family alive. (Photo Credit: Gemma LaMana)

Rico Gagliano: Why were you yelling at him?

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, what prompted your ire?

Anna Kendrick: Well, that’s the thing. When you’re improving that much, you sort of go crazy. Like, you get in this trance, and you’re going from zero to 60 so much that you’re like, “I’m just going to stay at 60, I guess!” And everything I was saying was some horrible, raunchy, piece of, like, vile garbage. So, then when I was interacting with normal people, I was like, “Oh, right, I need to be polite.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, let me ask that because we do ask this of some guests that do specific roles where they play a particularly horrible person. But, you know, was there trouble shifting? It sounds like you were having some trouble shifting your filter.

Anna Kendrick: Yeah. Well, it was hard to call my parents on the weekends. I was like, just be cool, don’t talk about dildos. Don’t do it.”

And the weirdest thing that happened was I was having really serious dreams. I was dreaming about, like, the meaning of life and death and all this stuff. And I was like, I think it’s because I’m spending every waking moment in this zany, raunchy state where my dreams are like, think about something serious for once. Do it.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah. Your dreams are Shakespearean.

Anna Kendrick: Yeah, exactly.

Rico Gagliano: Well, it’s very clear that we’ve got just the woman to tell our audience how to behave. Are you ready for these questions?

Anna Kendrick: Oh, yeah. Oh, I can’t wait.

Rico Gagliano: All right, here’s the first one. This is from Alistair in the UK.

Anna Kendrick: Yes.

How much do you spend on a gift for someone’s second wedding?

Rico Gagliano: Alistair writes: “I’m going to the wedding of a high school friend, but it’s her second wedding, and the first ended after six months. Do I shell out for another gift? Does she expect a similarly priced gift this time around? Also of note: I’m getting married next year, and she will be a guest.” Wow.

Anna Kendrick: Ooh. I mean, come on! I say, if you got her a gift already, no, you don’t need to get her a gift. She’s fine. Like, what? What, does she need two toasters? Come on. No.

Rico Gagliano: It doesn’t have to be a toaster, you guys. There are other things.

Anna Kendrick: Yeah, but like, what has she done to deserve that thing? Come on.

Rico Gagliano: But what if this was…she says that the first wedding only lasted six months, but that could’ve been years ago. Maybe she’s an older, wiser person now, and it’s a…

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, she needs an updated toaster is what you’re saying?

Anna Kendrick: I’m still not sure why that deserves a present.

Rico Gagliano: They’re giving you a free meal at the wedding.

Anna Kendrick: You know what? I think if you give her a second gift, then I think she should owe you two gifts for your one wedding.

Rico Gagliano: Aha!

Anna Kendrick: Because just because you got divorced and remarried doesn’t mean you’ve done something to earn two gifts.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, what if she re-gifts one of the toasters back to Alistair?

Anna Kendrick: Ooh, well, then I guess you need to burn her house down.

Rico Gagliano: OK! That’s just the perfect thing to do.

Anna Kendrick: Yeah.

Is singing along in the produce aisle OK?

Brendan Francis Newnam: There you are, Alistair. Moving on, our next question comes from Sarah. She sent it to us via Instagram, and she wrote: “If I’m in the grocery store and a good song is playing on the PA, is it appropriate to sing along with it?

Anna Kendrick: I think public dancing should be more acceptable. I would love nothing more than to see someone dancing in the aisles. If you’re just singing along, I would encourage dancing as well.

Rico Gagliano: Ah, you’ve got a whole production.

Anna Kendrick: Yeah. Joy is not an easy thing to come by, and if somebody is, like, at a ten, and they want to take that energy and channel it into a grocery store dance, who am I to stop you?

Brendan Francis Newnam: But I have to say, if someone’s at a 10, and you’re at a six, that could be nice to see a ten because it brings you to a seven or eight. But if you’re at a three, and someone’s at a 10, you are really going to drop to a one, you know what I mean? Because it’s going to infuriate you.

Anna Kendrick: But if you’re at a three, you kind of enjoy hating. There’s a little bit of pleasure in, like, “Ugh, this asshole guy.”

(Photo Credit: Gemma LaMana)

Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh, that’s an interesting point! So, even though you’d be dropping, you’d really be going up. I like this! Got my number there. OK. I’m three. That’s my number. You’ve got it.

Setting roommate food boundaries

Rico Gagliano: Yeah. Here’s something from Chase in Oshkosh, Wisconsin — hard to pronounce, awesome sounding: “I often buy food for groups of friends or my roommates,” writes Chase. “Inevitably, there are leftovers, and I get annoyed when I find that they have been eaten by people who never thought to ask my permission. Is it OK for me to be upset about this, and how can I communicate good leftovers are mine?”

Anna Kendrick: So, OK. So, what, Chase is making dinner for roommates? But he doesn’t want the roommates to have the leftovers.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yes.

Anna Kendrick: Oh, boy.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, I don’t think you’re allowed to call that.

Anna Kendrick: Yeah, that’s a tricky one because it’s… you know, you’ve sort of made it their food. Stop being so generous, Chase! Maybe that’s…

Rico Gagliano: Yeah. I mean, that’s pretty much the rule of living with roommates, anyway.

Anna Kendrick: Unfortunately, you can’t be like, “Well, when I cook it and it’s hot, you can have it. But once it’s in the fridge…”

Rico Gagliano: It’s changed form somehow.

Anna Kendrick: If it’s roommates, he could, like, put it in a — you know, containers, and mark it for himself as though he’s got OCD or something. Mark them, like, “Monday Lunch,” “Tuesday Lunch,” so that they’re like, “Oh! He wants to take that for lunch.”

It’s a little passive-aggressive, but it could get the job done.

Brendan Francis Newnam: But he could back-date it so it looks like it’s gone bad, because I don’t think that would stop a hungry roommate. And so, if you acted like, “Oh, this is from Easter of last year? Oh, I’m not going to eat this.”

Anna Kendrick: Yeah, and those roommates aren’t going to throw that away.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, and just count on them having been drunk enough when they first ate it not to remember when it happened.

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, Chase, plenty of strategies for you and your weird you-giveth-and-taketh-away with your food. It’s confusing.

Rico Gagliano: Yes, but thank you for writing. And, Anna Kendrick, thank you for telling our audience how to behave.

Anna Kendrick: Oh, my pleasure. I’m glad that we really helped some people out and changed some lives today.