She’s not totally comfortable with the prospect of downtime.“I don’t know,” she says semi-jokingly, “if I’m going to end up in a total tailspin.” Ever since Kendrick broke through to mainstream audiences with a small but amusing part as a squirrelly teen on the sidelines of the supernatural hullabaloo in 2008’s Twilight, she’s had a curious trajectory.“Being an idiot was fun.” If you could tease out a rule for dictating Kendrick’s choices, it might be this: Try everything.The result has been a broad variety of winning performances — her improvised roles in Joe Swanberg’s affecting microdramas Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas; her unofficial duet with Jake Gyllenhaal to Cam’ron’s “Hey Ma” in a minor scene in End of Watch; and her half of the two-hander movie-musical The Last Five Years, in which a singing Kendrick showcases some impressive face acting.“To some people, I was just that girl who got to work with Kristen and Rob,” she says, referring to co-stars Stewart and Pattinson, with whom she did three more Twilight films, “and to other people, I was that girl who’d made all these other movies. A native of Portland, Maine, and the daughter of parents who worked in finance, she isn’t quite sure how that happened, but, she says, “by the time I was 6, I was in community theater, because when I saw kids playing soccer I was like, yawn.” Now she compares an acting career to the stock market.
“I’m a famously bad communicator with my agent,” she says, having abandoned the chips for a giant ginger cookie. Then he sent me the script for The Voices, and I wrote back immediately.“Rereading the kind of fear I had then made me wonder, If I was that afraid of something now, would I still do it? In the journal, she has discovered a version of herself that she worries was “more motivated and ambitious” than she is now. She continues, “I texted my brother, and I was like, ‘I miss being a scrappy little nobody.’ And he was like, ‘You’re still scrappy, you just get more emails.’ ” It’s hard to believe that Kendrick, 30, could question her ambition when her filmography is only five credits shy of Tom Cruise’s.Even she’s surprised by hearing her output quantified.Take the essay in Scrappy Little Nobody that tackles Kendrick’s first boyfriend.“I started dating him as a social experiment,” she explains, absently braiding a strand of her fine brown hair.