Anna Kendrick is having a moment. Unfortunately for her, it’s a rather precarious one.
The 28-year-old actress has been working in film for over a decade, and has an Oscar nomination (for 2009's Up in the Air) and a budding new franchise (Pitch Perfect 2 is due in 2015) to her credit already. For a while, it seemed like Kendrick was going to be the hip alternative to the most popular girls in Hollywood; the IPA to Jennifer Lawrence’s Bud Light.
But Pitch Perfect changed the game and made her a sensation. Her song “Cups (When I’m Gone)” from the film was a surprise commercial and radio smash, and suddenly, Kendrick was ubiquitous. Just this year, she’s starring in this weekend’s indie release Happy Christmas, has a plum supporting role in the theatrical adaptation of Into the Woods, and will also star in The Last Five Years, another musical making its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Kendrick’s moment is striking while the iron is at its hottest – Emma Stone isn’t setting the world on fire recently, and after what our Joe Reid called Lawrence’s “Zellwegerian Cold Mountain march to the sea” in American Hustle almost led to an embarrassing second Oscar win, she seems to be laying low as well. This is the perfect time to break out for a would-be It Girl.
Ugh Anna Kendrick.— Jadey (@paralesbian) July 22, 2014
To qualify my Anna Kendrick position: millionaires being falsely self-deprecating is never charming— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) July 24, 2014
I hate Anna Kendrick so much. I refuse to watch a movie if she's in it. Terrible acting, busted face and a stupid voice. Hate her.— LaneNewbern (@LaneNewbern) July 22, 2014
It is also, apparently, the perfect time to break a would-be It Girl. Like almost every starlet that came before her, Kendrick is about to face a massive backlash. Call it getting Hathaway'd: a celebrity suddenly drowning in social-media hatred due to perceived irksome behavior. It can seem pretty unfair – and, considering it's usually women who are subject to it, sexist – but such is Hollywood.
What's encouraging is that Kendrick is aware of potential pitfalls. In an interview with L.A. Weekly, she said she's attempting to take cues from previous tales, like Lawrence "being everywhere and then people going, 'Ugh, that Jennifer Lawrence is f*cking everywhere.' Right, but that's because you put her everywhere. You keep blogging about her, and then she's too ubiquitous for your taste."
This is correct! Ubiquity is a two-way street, after all. But for Kendrick to say this in a year when she has no fewer than five new movies coming out indicates that while she sees the problem, she may not quite know how to avoid it. Again, it's rather unfair that she has to go to such lengths to avoid it, but this is the world we live in.
Because we like Kendrick a lot, and would not enjoy having to defend our feelings about her during a slightly too tense dinner party conversation, we submit the following: our essential guide to avoid being Hathaway'd.
Don't Start Taking Yourself Too Seriously
Anne Hathaway, our trope namer, was Hathaway'd for what were essentially the qualities that made her a big star to begin with: she comes across like a theater-kid striver who would very much like you to like her. She, like Kendrick, is well-known for her musical work, winning her Oscar for Les Miserables. Because she started taking it all a touch more sincerely than we like – she opened her Oscar acceptance speech by saying "it came true!" – haters came out of the woodwork. Culture vultures like their actresses humble and funny (think Sandra Bullock instead of Gwyneth Paltrow). Sure, George Clooney can rant about whatever he wants during his acceptance speech, but he's a man! He's handsome and charming and not a problem.
But Also Don't Be Too Self-Deprecating
The line between being hated because you try too hard and being hated because you were too self-aware about trying hard is thin. It is, in fact, razor's-edge thin. But if there's any one of these areas where Kendrick is most vulnerable, it's here. You may have found her Newcastle non-Super Bowl ad delightful and hilarious. (You would be correct!) But some found it irritating that she called herself "the hottest girl in your improv class," because she clearly believes deeply in a line she said as part of a paid commercial gig.
To be fair, she did repeat the idea in an interview with Elle about not getting hit on, so buying into one's PR-crafted image appears to be a danger. Not too late to save herself, though.
Avoid Becoming a Caricature
This one's important, because it nearly took down Lawrence, and there was a time about two years ago when that seemed nigh impossible. Pandering to what people think of you is a dangerous game. If you fall at an awards show and everyone thinks its adorable, don't do it again the next year. Everyone will think you fell on purpose, because they're onto your game, Eve Harrington. And no matter what you do, don't then try to tell a funny story about how you were drunk to excuse it. That'll only make the caricature worse.
Getting a sense for how difficult it must be to toe this line? Good, welcome to the dollhouse.
Never Touch Another Goddamn Cup
If there's another cup song in Pitch Perfect 2, pack it in. That's the ball game. The first song was just too dominant a force. When even BuzzFeed is telling you it's gotten to be a bit too much, you know it's gone too far. If the mashups and other performances in the new movie are good, people will like it for exactly what it is. If she touches a cup, she's doomed. Don't even get photographed drinking from a cup. Invest in long straws and drinks that come in pouches. Capri Sun. That's our advice.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.