From Pitch Perfect to Up in the Air, most of Anna Kendrick‘s biggest projects have been happy, light-hearted (or even musical) movies and TV shows. In her upcoming drama Alice, Darling, however, Kendrick embarks on a starkly different role as Alice, a woman who’s lost herself in her psychologically abusive relationship.
Though the troubled relationship with Simon (played by Charlie Carrick) serves as the starting point for the movie, the Mary Nighy-directed film is so much more than that. In fact, during much of the movie, the boyfriend isn’t even in it. Instead, Alice travels with her two longtime friends Tess and Sophie (played by Kaniehtiio Horn and Wunmi Mosaku, respectively) for a birthday trip and that’s where the story unfolds.
Talking to SheKnows, Kendrick notes that Alice, Darling, which premieres exclusively in AMC Theatres on Jan 20, defies traditional movie labels. “It’s a hard movie to give a short description of,” she said, “but those are always my favorite movies.”
In fact, though the female friendships between the three characters Alice, Tess and Sophie is a central theme in the feature, they’re not perfect relationships. “They are flawed friendships but that’s because they’re human beings,” Kendrick says. “And we’re so impossibly flawed.”
Without giving too much away, Tess and Sophie eventually uncover the truth about Alice’s relationship with Simon and have totally different reactions. As Kendrick put it, Tess is “more willing to confront Alice” while Sophie is “a little bit more willing to go along to get along.”
“When I first read the script, I just thought, ‘Well, Tess is being the better friend,'” Kendrick says. Many months later, however, when filming actually started, Kendrick began changing her mind. “Sophie is really the braver friend,” she thought.
“I think that it feels brave to confront somebody on their BS, or whatever we want to call it, and be willing to have conflict with them,” Kendrick explains. “But I think it’s much, much more difficult and courageous to give someone space to make their own decisions, even when those decisions are a train wreck, and all you want to do is to desperately protect your friend. The thing that is so much harder is to just sit and be available to our friends, when they’re in a bad place and making whatever we want to decide are bad decisions.” Kendrick adds, “It is a like a radical act of love.”
Kendrick adds that when your friend does comes around, “they know that you’re still available to them.”
Whether Kendrick herself is more of a Tess or a Sophie, she’s still figuring that out. “I absolutely would identify most with Tess, but I’m trying to be a Sophie,” she says.
As for how Kendrick, Horn, and Mosaku developed such a real and palpable friendship onscreen, Kendrick attributes it to the time they spent together during filming.
“Wunmi and I were in a very strict quarantine,” she says, adding that they got to know each other while living across from one another in single bedroom cottages. “She also is just one of those people where you meet and you’re like, ‘Oh, we’re best friends, are we best friends?'” she says. “And that’s such an incredible quality and she just makes people feel so at ease and at home.”
With Horn, however, the dynamic was quite different. “She is so the polar opposite, such a hard ass, so hard to get her to crack a smile,” Kendrick notes, adding that she’s “in love with stoic sarcastic women.” She adds, “It felt so rewarding to get a laugh out of her. It was like she was the feral cat of the set where you’re like, ‘Oh, man, if I can get her to purr, it’s been such a great day,’ because when there’s an expression of affection it’s genuine because she’s very unwilling to give it cheaply.”
Kendrick adds, “I think I just fell in love with them.”
That connection, of course, resonated onscreen. The three not only act like friends, but they feel like best friends too. Their chemistry together with Kendrick’s fearless portrayal makes Alice, Darling an absolute must-watch. And who knows, maybe this will become Kendrick’s most talked-about projects.
Before you go, click here to see our favorite movies and TV shows about imperfect, complicated women.