In the interests of full disclosure: I loved Drinking Buddies, the new film from Joe Swanberg (Lance did too). While I already thought it was a great film about relationships and friendships between members of the opposite sex, what really floored me was the fact that while the film had a script it had no scripted dialogue. Oh, and the fact that the plot revolves around drinking craft beer definitely appealed to my tastes. Anna Kendrick stars in the film alongside Ron Livingston, Jake Johnson, and Olivia Wilde, and Kendrick spoke to New York magazine about working while drunk, tackling improv, and her recent surprising success in the music business.
Kendrick reveals that while in one scene she was given fake beer to drink, the filmmakers and cast tricked her in another scene. She explains, “During a scene at the bar, they gave me fake beer, but then during a scene where I’m playing cards with Jake, they gave me real beer, and I didn’t realize it! And so every time I lost, I was pounding beer, and I didn’t realize it was real until halfway through the take. I was like, I’m super drunk right now! And so as soon as the take was over, I had to announce to everybody that I was drunk at work. I was horrified by the idea that I was going to be the next troublesome star who got drunk and started flipping over tables or whatever. I just tried to sit quietly until I sobered up.”
She adds, “It was very, very bizarre, let me tell you. I’m sure you’ve never been drunk in the middle of your job, but it is uncomfortable. For some of the movie, it was fine, and it worked in the scene, and so it was helpful for them. But I mostly found it really unnerving.”
Like most of the other actors, Kendrick didn’t have an extensive background in improv while working on the film and found it both refreshing and difficult. She explains, “It was my first time doing anything quite like it. We did a lot of improv on End of Watch, so I kind of think of End of Watch as training wheels for Drinking Buddies, but this was the first time I had done it to this extent. And it was crazy doing it with Ron, Jake, and Olivia because all four of us were new to this specific world of improv, but also really game for it and really excited about it. So it was a perfect combination of working with people who were really good at it, but also weren’t trained professionals. It’s not like any of us had done it a zillion times, or the rest of us were left in the dust. That marriage-conversation scene with Jake is the one scene where I said to Joe, ‘You have to give me the words here, because I’ve never had this conversation before.’ I don’t know what a believable version of it would be, how to approach this subject in a long-term relationship. Everything else, you can draw on your own experience, but that was the one time where I was like, ‘I need a line!’ Just to get into that thinking.”
Though Kendrick is primarily an actress, she has scored a viral music hit with Cups, a remix of a cup-drumming performance she did in Pitch Perfect that even hit Billboard’s Top 10 this summer. Kendrick admits that she’s completely confused by her success in another field. She says, “I am bewildered. I don’t even know what to say about it. The weirdest thing to me is that it’s outpositioned artists who are out there promoting their singles, as they should be — they’re musicians! And I’ve been making movies. Like I just made this little movie in Harlem, instead of doing something to further the success of the single, and yet there it is. It makes no sense. Don’t get me wrong — it’s so cool! But it’s bizarre to me that I’m off doing something else, and it’s happening on its own. It’s so cool. But it is absolutely bewildering.”