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Anna Kendrick: Finding Her Voice in PARANORMAN

Although she is an Oscar-nominated actress and got her first major award nomination at the age of just 12, Anna Kendrick was intimidated by the prospect of playing Courtney Babock, the eponymous hero's seemingly shallow sister, in the stop-motion animated horror comedy PARANORMAN. Kendrick admits that “doing voiceover both excited and terrified me. I was flattered to be asked, although I thought, ‘What if I’m bad at this?’ ” Kendrick's ability to bring both humor and a strong sense of humanity to the characters she plays made her the ideal person to voice Courtney, a cheerleader who is too easily dismissed by others based on her surface appearance. Not long into playing the role, Kendrick found that her skills as a live-action thespian had fully transferred over to this new medium. “It turned out to be a pure acting exercise,” she says. “Going into it, I worried I would feel restricted having to stand in front of the microphone. It was just the opposite –– I felt as if I had no limitations; I didn’t worry about my face or my body or hitting my mark. I’d be given direction and then say the lines without overthinking them.” Kendrick relates that, even though she was stationary in the recording booth while playing Courtney, her body was fully engaged in the role: “I was doing all this weird stuff with my feet. But I was completely not self-conscious, so hopefully I have carried that into making non-animated movies...”

Anna Kendrick: Broadway Bound

A native of Portland, Maine, Anna Kendrick first became serious about a career in acting when she was barely in double digits. “My parents were really, really cool about supporting what I wanted to do at a really young age,” Kendrick said in an interview with MTV in 2008. “I think I was about 10 when I caught the bug. They would drive me down to New York if there were auditions.” As an actress, Kendrick gives off an air of extreme maturity and even toughness while just below the surface is an innocence and vulnerability, and this precocious quality was first apparent when she played the role of Dinah Lord at the age of 12 in the 1998 Broadway production of the classic Cole Porter musical High Society. Highly lauded for her performances in the show, Kendrick was nominated for Tony and Drama Desk awards and took home the Theatre World Award for Featured Actress in a Musical. Despite this major success, Kendrick stayed grounded and concentrated on her priorities as a high school student, only returning to the spotlight in 2003, at the age of 18. Then she came back to Broadway for Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music and next made her movie debut in Todd Graff’s Camp, a musical about a camp for wannabe Broadway babies. In a performance as Fritzi Wagner that Rolling Stone's Peter Travers called “terrific,” Kendrick connected her Broadway past with her film future, playing a nerdy kid who by the story’s end triumphs over the camp diva and emerges out of the shadow as a real star herself. The part earned her a Best Supporting Actress nod at the Chlotrudis Awards and a nomination for Best Debut Performance at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Anna Kendrick: Rocketing to Fame

Despite her triumphant entry into screen acting with Camp, Anna Kendrick – just like after her success with High Society – kept her feet on the ground. Going against the flow, she did what a normal 18-year-old would do and went to university – specifically, Bates College in her native Maine – and only returned to movie acting in 2007. However, when she returned, she did so with a bang. That year, she appeared in the Sundance hit Rocket Science, an offbeat high school comedy drama in which she played the fast-talking, uber-confident queen of the public speakers, Ginny Ryerson, a fiery performance that earned her more rave reviews in addition to an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In his glowing appraisal of Rocket Science, Roger Ebert wrote that Kendrick was at the start of what he anticipated would be a “considerable career” and that she “can make you like her even when you shouldn't.” While Rocket Science gave Kendrick major indie cred, she greatly bolstered her career within mainstream cinema when she was cast in the smash hit adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's teen fantasy novel Twilight, alongside the movie's stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Kendrick played Jessica Stanley, the best friend of Stewart's heroine Bella, and subsequently reprised the role in three further sequels. Her performance also got her a nomination for Favorite Breakout Movie Actress at the People's Choice Awards.

Anna Kendrick: Fresh Air

Anna Kendrick has found success at every stage of her career, but it was her work in Jason Reitman's 2009 recession-themed drama Up in the Air – in which she played efficiency expert Natalie Keener, opposite George Clooney's protagonist, Ryan Bingham – that truly launched her as a star internationally. In her review of the film in The New York Times, Manohla Dargis wrote, “One of the pleasures of Up in the Air is that its actresses — including Anna Kendrick, who plays Bingham’s colleague Natalie — share the frame with Mr. Clooney as equals, not props. The ferocious Ms. Kendrick, her ponytail swinging like an ax, grabs every scene she’s in, which works for her go-getter (go-get-him) character, who is sent out on the road with Bingham as part of an efficiency campaign. She’s a monster for our times: a presumed human-resources expert who, having come of age in front of a computer, has no grasp of the human.” The movie showed the world what many indie fans knew already, that Kendrick had “it.” For her performance, she won numerous awards, including the MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAG Awards, etc. She subsequently consolidated her burgeoning reputation as one of the finest young actresses around with strong performances in smaller roles in Edgar Wright's cult comic book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (as the hero's no-nonsense sister) and the cancer dramedy 50/50, playing a delightfully inexperienced psychologist. 2012 is shaping up to be an extremely busy year for Kendrick: in addition to PARANORMAN, Kendrick has already starred in the ensemble pregnancy comedy What to Expect When You're Expecting, and before the year is out will appear in the Jake Gyllenhaal cop thriller End of Watch and the campus-set musical comedy Pitch Perfect (harking back to her Camp roots), in which she stars alongside PARANORMAN cohort Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

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