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In 'Love Life,' Anna Kendrick Portrays The Relationships You Find Before True Love


The TV show "Love Life" starts with some data.


LESLEY MANVILLE: (As narrator) For instance, by the time the average person ends up with the love of their life, they will have been in seven relationships.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It follows Darby Carter and all her relationships before finding her perfect match. Darby is played by Oscar-nominated actress Anna Kendrick, and she joins us now from her home in LA.


ANNA KENDRICK: Hi. Thank you so much for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It is a pleasure to have you. Let's talk about your character Darby. She kind of embodies sort of these millennials coming of age during the recession, a time when apps like Instagram are just starting to really take off. Tell us about Darby. Who is she? And when we first meet her, you know, what time is she in?

KENDRICK: Well, the show starts in - I think it's 2012. And Darby is sort of early 20s and is having her first real relationship. The kind of wonderful thing about Darby that I have found is something that I was actually really insecure about when I first started press for the show. We're, like, halfway through filming, and they tell me to talk about my character. And I was getting really bothered and insecure because I couldn't give the kind of two-sentence synopsis of this person that I normally do. You know...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Like she's strong and powerful but perky or whatever.

KENDRICK: Exactly. And I was really having a hard time. And I was like, do I not know this character as well as I should? - you know, am I failing at my job, basically. And then by the time that we finished, I was like, oh, of course I can't describe her quickly because it's 10 years of a woman's life and - you know, really formative years of a woman's life.

So the challenge for me was basically starting the first several episodes where she's so insecure and clingy. And even when she tries to play it cool, she's so bad at it. By the end, you know, she's really a person that I aspire to be - you know, someone who is really clear on her priorities and boundaries and who she wants in her life.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's been said that this was partially inspired by your own dating adventures and those of your friends. Did it resonate?

KENDRICK: I started to get really nervous because it was basically me. It was a little too close. And I was very worried about all the angry phone calls I was going to get from exes. And then, you know...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Have you gotten them?

KENDRICK: No. Well, no because - thank goodness - as the show went on and - you know, it was my first time doing episodic TV, so I didn't realize just how much the show was going to change as we went. And so it all kind of got remixed enough that even if that person watched it, they would never think that was supposed to be them. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, now I have to know. Which one?

KENDRICK: Well, I can't tell you. That would - I would get the angry phone calls.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. We don't want that. Absolutely. You know, watching this, there is this sense of these sort of archetypes of men - right? - the older man who just wants a trophy girlfriend, this sort of chef who's bombastic and wants to sort of subsume Darby. There is something about women losing themselves in men very early on that many young women still find challenging.

KENDRICK: I mean, you're talking about episodes 2 and 4. And Episode 2 - that was a really interesting one. You know, we had Scoot McNairy, this incredibly talented actor, playing Bradley, who is, you know, this older man who used to be Darby's boss. And I guess I really wanted it to feel like even though this older man didn't have, like, nefarious motives and, you know, wasn't, like, a bad guy, that he still sort of left her a shadow of herself. I think that that's a really common experience for young women to feel like they become an extension of another person and not their own entity. And they can't really reconcile that with the fact that the other person is a benign influence.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This isn't your first streaming project in 2020. In April, your movie "Trolls World Tour" set records as a day-only rental online. Are you thinking about how your industry and career will change post-pandemic?

KENDRICK: Yeah, I mean, I think we all are. And we've all been thinking about, you know, what streaming means for the industry for years now. You know, I think at first, it seemed like this novelty and this added element of the industry. And certainly, there's a worry about, like, what it will all mean. It's so much uncertainty. But I do think that no matter what, you know, people are going to want to go to the movies. That's one of the things that I miss most.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What have you been doing at home to get by? You know, at least for me, it's made me a lot more contemplative. I've had to think a lot more about how I have moved in the world before now.

KENDRICK: You know, there's an argument to be made that you can find fulfillment and creativity on your own. But you know, I wrote a book a few years ago. And while it was very rewarding in its own way, I was like, I miss collaboration so much. So I can - I know what you're saying where I do miss being at my job where I'm surrounded by people, especially, frankly, by people who are so good at the technical aspects of it. And I have never had more appreciation - and I had plenty before - for the people who take care of audio, visual, production design, costume design.


KENDRICK: You know, having to, you know, be responsible for that myself, like, the results are obvious. It's just a crappy Zoom call. You know, that's what I can produce. It's a shame not to be surrounded by so many talented people, and I do take that for granted.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I just want to end - obviously, 'cause we're going through a difficult time right now - and I've been looking at your Twitter feed. And you have been sort of referencing some of the protests that we're seeing. So I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about the tensions that we're seeing play out.

KENDRICK: I think a lot of white folks - I mean - and by that I mean me - are having a hard time finding the words 'cause there's a fear of, I'm not qualified to speak on this. What if I say the wrong thing? And I know that, you know, that's what's coming up for me right now when you ask that question. I've been donating to wherever I can and really bear witness and not look away. You know, there's frustration that I can't even fathom, you know, that's been happening for generations. I have a lot of internal reaction, and I have not been able to put that into any kind of eloquent words yet.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Thank you for trying.

That was Anna Kendrick. Her new show "Love Life" is streaming now on HBO Max.

Thank you very much.

KENDRICK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.