SANTA MONICA, California — A 22-year-old actress best known for the 2007 indie flick "Rocket Science," Anna Kendrick is just like any normal young woman her age. She's trying to get in on the ground floor of a solid career, making new workplace friends and bringing her work home with her at night.
"I just finished the third book," said the bubbly Kendrick, referring to the bloodsucking, romantic "Twilight" series that she's currently helping to bring to the big screen. "I hadn't read the books before, but I tore through them the second I was cast."
Join the crowd, Anna. Last August, author Stephenie Meyer's latest book, "Eclipse," debuted in the top spot on the USA Today best-seller list, knocking off "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." That was seen by many as the latest sign that the vampire series is becoming the new Potter, with more than 50 million books sold and a fast-rising ranking as one of the top 30 best-selling book series of all time.
If the huge Internet response to recent comments by co-stars Kristen Stewart and Rachelle Lefevre are any indication, "Twilight" is a phenomenon that will just as easily sweep up the silver screen this winter.
"It's, like, number three on [IMDb.com's] MOVIEmeter in-production thing; it's above 'Harry Potter,' " she marveled, referring to the movie Web site's tracking tool, which also pegs "Twilight" anticipation ahead of such films as "Iron Man" and "Star Trek." "I think it'll be fun, but it's quite a lot to deal with."
These days, Kendrick has been spending her free time poring over Meyer's prose, then doing her best to bring chatterbox high school student Jessica Stanley to life in front of director Catherine Hardwicke's cameras.
"I play Jessica, who is one of the first friends of Kristen Stewart, who is playing Bella, at school," the actress explained. "She's a little pathetic, and she's kind of a brat. But she's really fun to play."
The series revolves around a heart-tugging romance between Stewart's transplanted teen Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson's charismatic vampire Edward Cullen. Legions of "Twi-Hards" are eager to watch many iconic scenes play themselves out in the flick, and since Jessica is an essential bridge between the worlds of humans and immortals, Kendrick can't wait to spit out some of her character's juicy exposition.
(What should "Twilight" fanatics be called? Cast your vote here!)
"I get to kind of introduce the Cullens, the vampires, so that's fun," she said of the scenes she's most looking forward to. "I [also can't wait for] the cafeteria scenes, where you meet everybody for the first time, and that introduction of all the mysterious characters."
Now that cameras have officially begun rolling in various Oregon and Washington locales, Kendrick and her co-stars are spending each day bringing to life the words that Meyer has used to entertain her millions of fans.
"I had no idea what I was getting myself into, to be honest," Kendrick laughed, remembering when she first accepted the gig. "Before I had even read the script, I was telling a friend about it. A couple of his friends, who I didn't really know, overheard. They were big fans of the books! That was one of the first things that got me really excited about it, because they had read them, and they knew all about it. That was the first hint that this was as big as it is."
Now, Kendrick could be well on her way to becoming an iconic name along the lines of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. And if such Harry Potter comparisons continue, Kendrick couldn't be any more thrilled.
"I'm a big dork, and I like Harry Potter, so I certainly don't have a problem with it," she insisted. But, she added, the vampires of "Twilight" do have one advantage over the boy wizard: sex appeal.
"Oh, yeah," she grinned. "We're much sexier."
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