Actor and Portland native Anna Kendrick’s book “Scrappy Little Nobody” is not a memoir, it’s more like a collection of (lightly) edited and (slightly) connected essays about working her hardest to get on Broadway as a kid, making her Hollywood breakthrough, and inside movie set material, including her thoughts on kissing Chris Pine on the set of “Into the Woods.” There’s also some fashion talk and a lot of musing about men and sex.

Her editor at Touchstone only made a couple of changes, Kendrick said, and encouraged a few cuts, such as a story about her beloved choir teacher at Deering High. “Much to my dismay, my editor was like, ‘This story is boring and it is not going anywhere.’ To me, it was the most charming story.” (It involved him whispering “Kosovo” to them to make them remember a cue, and we would have to concur that it doesn’t much go anywhere.)

Anna Kendrick will appear at a sold out Books-a-Million event in South Portland on Nov. 23, which she told us she’s psyched about because it’s where she used to do her Christmas shopping, back when it was a Borders. She may be an Oscar nominee, but she did call us early for our brief interview; this Mainer hasn’t totally gone Hollywood. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Q: So many funny actresses have come out with bestselling books in recent years – Tiny Fey (“Bossypants”) and Amy Poehler (“Yes Please”), and Mindy Kaling has published two memoirs, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” in 2011 and “Why Not Me?” in 2015. Do all funny actresses now feel obligated to write books?

A: The difference between me and Mindy Kaling is that she created and wrote and starred in her own television show and that is true of most of these women – Amy and Tina and Lena (Dunham). So I didn’t feel a lot of pressure in trying to compete with them. Because there was a part of my brain that was going, ‘I am not a writer, and I don’t even have to worry about it.’ But the other part of my brain was going, ‘You have to make this at least decent, and you have to write every word yourself.’ Otherwise, I will always feel so guilty.

Walking the red carpet has become old-hat for Anna Kendrick, here posing for photographers at the London premiere last month of "The Accountant," in which she co-stars with Ben Affleck.

Walking the red carpet has become old-hat for Anna Kendrick, here posing for photographers at the London premiere last month of “The Accountant,” in which she co-stars with Ben Affleck.

Q: Did you manage to write every word?


A: I was so paranoid about being unmasked as not being the true writer. There was a sentence or two that my editor rewrote. And that makes me sick to my stomach, because I didn’t write them. I also didn’t write the section titles because I was really bad about coming up with them. I feel like I have to talk about that up front. Unlike most of these women that come out with these hilarious books, I am not a writer.

Q: Did you show it to any of your funny women friends who happen to be writers?

A: No. Because I am a control freak. I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I should show it to some friends who are smart and funny.’ But then I was like, ‘You can’t even show it to people that are smart and funny, because it is not even finished and what will they think of it?’ But by the time it was finished it was too late. So my plan was flawed.

Q: There is a lot of very blunt language in this book, including about sex, specifically about women’s right to pleasure. How has your family responded? Have they read it?

A: I have sent it to them. I have sent my brother a copy where I have redacted the pages about guys.

Q: Like cut them out?


A: I just Xed it all out. And wrote ‘Turn to page whatever.’

Q: What about that boyfriend you lose your virginity to, who tries to shame you for being so enthusiastic about sex? (He tells her: “You don’t have to be so, like, ready and willing. I’m not saying we wouldn’t be having sex at all, it’s just you don’t always have to initiate it.”)

A: I think that was probably a byproduct of culture on both ends, male and female. I don’t think that this guy came to the conclusion about how I was supposed to behave on his own. His thinking was influenced by how he grew up and what he was exposed to. It was more complicated than ‘men try to make girls feel bad about sex.’

Neil Patrick Harris and Anna Kendrick perform at the 2015 Oscars.

Neil Patrick Harris and Anna Kendrick perform at the 2015 Oscars.

Q: You come across as very blunt and down to earth. True? And does it have anything to do with coming from Maine?

A: It would be impossible for me to say if it had anything do with Maine or not, because you only have one childhood. I do think it is related to just, what you identify with. I am always having these flashes of veracious people from everywhere, from my childhood, and what they would think of any kind of hint of diva behavior, and I’m like, ‘You’ve got to keep yourself in check, dude.’ It’s sort of like going home for Christmas dinner, and there is this cousin who will always put you in a headlock. That will always be how you think of yourself. I can’t imagine a world where I let go of that and think I am hot (expletive). Because I have been with me and I have seen me!

Q: Is your brother Mike that theoretical cousin who will put you in a headlock?


A: He is definitely the voice in my head before I go on a talk show, saying ‘Don’t be an idiot.’

Q: “The Accountant,” in which you co-star with Ben Affleck, is still in theaters. What are you working on now?

A: I’ve done (expletive) all recently. I have been on hold for “Pitch Perfect 3” for awhile. They are going to shoot it in January.

Q: Tell me about doing (and seeing) theater in Portland back before you were famous.

A: Honestly, it is so blurry at this point. I’ve been to a million productions. I think I only did shows at Lyric Theater and smaller places, and in Brunswick at the Maine State Music Theater. I had some very formative experiences watching “Waiting for Godot,” “A Doll’s House” and what is the play where someone is buried in the sand?

“Happy Days!” My parents brought me to that. That title sounds so family-friendly. But it is a (Samuel) Beckett play that is horrifying. This woman is half buried and contemplating suicide and then the curtain comes up on the second act and she’s buried up to her neck. I was probably 9 or 10. I think my parents thought it would be okay. There are no boobs or anything. Just a woman having an existential crisis. Beckett for your kids.


Q: Random question. Did you see the “Crucible Cast Party” skit on “Saturday Night Live” in October? Can you confirm or deny that it is an accurate portrayal of the parties of high school theater geeks everywhere?

A: I definitely went to one of those costume parties in a sequined top and thought I was the man. And yeah, it was definitely one of those parties where the lights were on and we were eating chips and there was a rumor that someone was going to bring pot brownies. Which didn’t turn out to be true. Yeah, that sketch was uncanny.

Q: You’re very self-effacing in “Scrappy Little Nobody.” Is that you at your most humble?

A: Definitely not at my most humble. As much as I tried to avoid it, I have tried to make myself look good. This is my most pathetic attempt to be honest and tell the whole truth while I also try to make myself look cool. I am out of jokes. My brain is empty now.


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