Q&A: Anna Kendrick on 'End of Watch,' Bald Heads & Scruffy Beards

Over the span of her relatively young career, Anna Kendrick's been known as a few things in pigeonhole-happy Hollywood: the musically talented, Tony award nominee who crossed over to movies with "Camp"; the Oscar nominee who held her own against George Clooney in "Up in the Air"; the coolest cast member in the "Twilight" series.

And that's exactly how she likes it.

The funny and charismatic 27-year-old doesn't want to play the same role twice; it's why the Anna Kendrick you see in "End of Watch," where she plays the laid-back girlfriend to Jake Gyllenhaal's cliché-busting, bald-headed LAPD officer, won't seem anything like the Anna Kendrick you saw in last year's "50/50" or next week's "Pitch Perfect."

Kendrick told us all about her new role in "Watch" and how her Oscar nomination for "Air" put her strategy of choosing diverse roles to the test.

Most times when we see LAPD in movies, they're usually portrayed as …  d-bags.

I was just going to say douchebag, that is so weird! But I was like, keep it classy.

These guys played by Jake and [his partner/BFF] Michael Pena actually seem to pretty cool. Or like regular guys, at least.

Yeah, I think it's a good balance … A lot of people have come out of it and talked about how it's nice to finally see cops portrayed in a positive light. I think there are plenty of times in the movie where you are definitely on their side and you definitely root for them, but there are moments where you as an audience member are thinking, like, guys I'm not sure that that's the right judgment call.  And you forgive them because they are human and I think that’s the most important thing.

It doesn't portray them as villains and it doesn't portray them as supermen. They are human beings and their hearts are in the right places but they make some maybe questionable decisions. But I'm sure those are the things that keep them up at night, too.

Could you ever see yourself dating a cop in real life?

I don't know, man. I worry over people who have the most boring jobs in the world, so I can't imagine how strong you have to be to do that.

Jake Gyllenhaal is great in this movie. He’s also got a great bald head. Did you touch his head a lot?

I touched his head a lot. There is this scene at the end of the movie where I found myself touching his head a lot. I was like what is happening, why am I doing that? I like to see him all hairy again, it looks like a completely different person, but I like him scruffy.

Yeah, what is it about bald heads that makes them so touchable?

I don't know. I was doing it in that one scene but actually when I saw him at the premiere, the first thing I did was scratch his beard. I think I am more of a beard girl myself.

You and Jake rap Cam'ron's "Hey Ma" in this movie, and it's one of the most memorable moments.

We were doing this road trip to Vegas and [writer-director David Ayers] was just [occasionally] filming. We spent five hours in the car so there were plenty of times when it was just the three of us talking. Then that song came on Jake's iPod and we just started singing and David very stealthily brought out his camera … It's not like he asked us to play that song again and do it again, it just happened, he filmed it, and now it's in the movie. And luckily they could clear that song. The music supervisor was sweating it for a second.

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You also rap in your other new movie this month, "Pitch Perfect." Considering a side career in hip-hop?

Yeah, I could see myself going that way.

So what are you jamming out to these days?

I mean it's funny because it's not really my wheelhouse, obviously, but I do get down to some Nicki Minaj and some Azaelia Banks.  I definitely like a catchy hip-hop tune.

How did earning an Oscar nomination affect your career?

I don't know, how do you think it affected my career?

I'd imagine it's lead to some better scripts and better offers.

I mean I think a good script is a rare thing, and I think no matter who you are you have to fight for the good ones. It's a hard question to answer partially because, and I have been warned about this, that after you do a part that people really like, whenever somebody has a part just like that in a movie, they are like, 'We should get that girl who already did that to do it in our movie.' That was a weird time because they were good scripts but I was like, 'I just did this, why would I do this again? So that people can turn around and be like, oh she only does that one thing?'

Weirdly a little bit of distance and time going by after the Oscars actually helped people to just kind of send me a variety of things because they just thought of me as an actress they remembered liking and not as that girl that did that one thing. Weirdly like a year later things got a lot more interesting than the year following the Oscars. I wish there was a concise way to answer that question.