From the #IntoTheWoodsEvent media trip, I’ve already shared interviews with the mothers of Into The Woods (with Meryl Streep, Tracey Ullman, & Christine Baranski) and the lead roles of the Baker & his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt). Today it’s time for the interview with the director of Into The Woods, Rob Marshall, and the most famous princess Cinderella, Anna Kendrick. In this session, we talked the most about the movie than any of our other interview – and rightly so since we were talking with the movie’s director! In regards to making the movie, I thought it was interesting to find out how the “getting ready” process was. So, just like any musical, there was extensive rehearsal before the actual filming started. Rob shared that there were four weeks of actual rehearsals, then two weeks of prerecording (during which time rehearsals were still going on). So, the cast had about six weeks of rehearsal before actual filming started.
And, speaking of the cast, you can really sense Rob Marshall’s true affection for this phenomenal cast he put together for this movie. He called them, a true company”, which essentially everyone working together for the same common goal. Here’s what he said about putting the cast together:
Rob: You know, company is everyone working together. I mean it’s as simple as that. That’s what it is. Everybody working together for the same thing and, you know, when I cast people I not only cast them for the talent and for playing the roles but I also cast them for who they are and I have to have around me people I like and people that are wonderful to work with and are there for the right reasons, you know, and I’ve certainly come across actors that sometimes aren’t exactly there for the whole, you know, what I mean? It’s about them and this piece in particular is an ensemble piece. You always have to be feeding the piece and, and this gorgeous Sondheim, James Lapine piece and we were all aware of that from the very beginning and this cast understood that There was a sense of honoring this beautiful piece. We’re all very lucky. Musicals are few and far between anyway. A Sondheim musical is really few and far between and so we felt very lucky to be doing that and, you know, I felt everybody supporting each other. Rehearsals helped enormously, having that time to create that company because that’s when everybody’s doing things for the first time and it’s exposing and, uh, everybody’s working hard, you know, to do it together and, that I think during that time wouldn’t you say Anna that during the rehearsal was a bonding experience for people?
Anna: It was an equalizer ‘cause we were all terrified and there’s nothing like terror, uh, to make you forget what you thought the hierarchy was going to be when you arrived, you know. That there would be a feeling of a food chain or something and to be just in it doing the work, especially when we were all so intimidated by the music. It just made you realize we’re all in the same boat here.
You can really tell that Rob has a true adoration of Anna Kendrick! They both have extensive theater backgrounds and she just has the most incredible voice! Anna was so humble through it all while he gushed about her…
Rob: It’s easy to talk about Anna ‘cause I adore her. That voice is extraordinary and I think everybody looked up to her in the cast because of that, everybody because, you know, she comes from that in a very rich background with her Broadway experience as a child. So to have that gift is amazing. What surprised me the most about Anna is her range as an actor, you know. The fact that she was able to with this piece open up and show such depth and vulnerability and agility and complexity. Meryl Streep called her role the most complex character in the film because of what she’s dealing with and she’s right because and it needs a great internal depth. She lets you into this person who’s indecisive and not sure and wrestling with her, with what she’s feeling and it’s a very brave personal, beautiful performance and I’m very proud of it. Very proud of her.
If you’ve seen the musical (whether on stage or film), you know that this Cinderella is different than the Disney fairytale version we’re used to. Anna does indeed do a wonderful job at showing the depth there and her voice is incredible – with some very complex singing! There’s definitely some important messages to be gleaned from this Cinderella too – a more modern-day princess message for sure. And, Anna was excited to play that “Sondheim Cinderella” role!
Anna: …We love those kinds of girls and I think that she [Cinderella] is very modern, you know. I think that something that we do to ourselves as women, especially modern women, we instead of trusting our instincts I think we have a tendency to feel a responsibility to weigh every option and look at things from every angle and ask our mom and ask our sister and ask our friends and we find ourselves in situations or committing to certain things that, you know, our gut is telling us is not gonna make us happy or is gonna be harder in the long run.
So that was kind of really fun to play that she’s talking herself into things and out of things and, you know, I think that by the end of it for her to really realize what’s important, uh, once she is in a situation where an entire community has to come together, uh, and decided what’s really important to them then it becomes pretty easy to say goodbye to this guy who’s sort of a tool.
And to me the idea that we’re seeing a princess who chooses the unknown over security I think is an important message for girls. But I also think that the idea that it’s not as simple as right and wrong and who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy especially, uh, when, you know, breakups and divorce and separation are a part of our lives all the time. They happen all the time and I think it’s a really outdated notion that one person is right and one person is wrong and I hope that Cinderella’s journey in this is a reflection of that and a reflection of forgiveness and compassion.
I don’t think we’ve seen the last of these two in musical theater adapted films. Both are so passionate about musicals! Anna said she is so grateful to be “alive and working” in an age when people would make a movie musical! She’s thrilled to be a part of them and is excited to participate as long as anybody will let her (given her amazing voice and acting skills, that will NOT be a problem)! Rob would love to be a part of more as well. His excitement at the thought of being able to create a musical for film (instead of something that were first stage productions), like Singing in the Rain or Meet Me in St. Louis, was obvious. In fact, he said, “so that would be heaven to be able to do that and, you know, and create a musical for Anna Kendrick.” Ha!
So, it’s very possible we’ll see more movie musical in the future from these two, but in the meantime, go see their work in Into The Woods!! For more, be sure to read our Into the Woods Movie Review and check out our interviews with Meryl Streep, Tracey Ullman, and Christine Baranski and Emily Blunt & James Corden. Plus, follow the film’s social channels:
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Disclosure: Disney provided me with an all expenses paid trip to the Hollywood premiere for the purposes of this coverage. As always, all opinions, experiences, and love of Disney are entirely my own!