The hilarious new comedy Pitch Perfect, from director Jason Moore (Broadway’s Avenue Q) and screenwriter Kay Cannon (New Girl, 30 Rock), tells the story of Beca (Anna Kendrick), a young woman who dreams of being a music producer, but who instead finds herself at Barden University in an all-female a cappella singing group. With both new takes on old favorites and hits of right now, The Bellas fight to climb their way to the top of the cutthroat world of college music competitions. The film also stars Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin, Adam Devine, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks.
At the film’s press junket, co-stars Skylar Astin (who plays Jesse, one of the Treblemakers who also competes for Beca’s affections just as hard as he does the championship title) and Anna Camp (who plays Aubrey, the stubborn and high-strung leader of The Bellas) talked about their audition songs, their favorite songs to sing in the film, their go-to karaoke songs, what it was like to shoot the vomit scenes, how much improvisation went on during shooting, and when they decided they wanted to get into acting. Camp also talked about her role in the new Fox comedy series The Mindy Project, starring Mindy Kaling, and Astin talked about his upcoming comedy 21 and Over, from the writers of The Hangover, and they both revealed which musical they’d love to be in the movie version of. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
SKYLER ASTIN: I sang Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” to show off the low and transition to the high of the chorus.
ANNA CAMP: I can’t remember the name of the song, but it was by Imogen Heap, and I played it on the ukelele. I learned the ukelele to play that song. That’s the only song I can play on the ukelele, and if you asked me to play it today, I don’t know if I could. But, it came through. On the day that I needed it to be there, it was there.
What was your favorite song to sing in the movie?
CAMP: My favorite song to sing was “Just the Way You Are,” the Bruno Mars song when we’re in the pool. It’s such a turning point for my character because she’s giving up control, for the first time. It’s such a lovely song, and I just think the girls sound so good and so pretty.
ASTIN: It’s a hard question to answer. It’s kind of like, “What’s your favorite color?” I don’t know. Tuesday, it might be blue. Right now, it’s “Carry On, My Wayward Son,” which I don’t really sing fully committed like I sing the finale song from Cee Lo, but for some reason, I loved doing that. I wish I got to dig into it a little bit more. But, I just had so much fun with the playback. Getting to sound bad was so fun, to just be screaming it like people do. I was thinking of my younger brother, who literally just lets it go. He’s got an amazing voice, but he will go off pitch and be unapologetic about it, so I was channeling that.
CAMP: Yeah, definitely! I have a whole set list. I start off with a little Lisa Loeb, “Stay.” And then I have another drink and I go to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking.” And then, I have two more drinks and I finish it off with “Jesse’s Girl” because I love that song.
ASTIN: I cannot sing karaoke because it’s hard and weird. If I actually tried to sing, I would probably sound good, and I think that’s weird and not fun. So, I rap. I’ll do Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” or something like that where I’m just screaming violently by the end of it. And then, I have another drink and I do “My Heart Will Go On.”
What was it like to shoot the vomit scenes?
CAMP: When I read it in the script, I was like, “I have to be the girl that gets this part because I want to barf all over everybody.” It was crazy! They had a hose hooked up on the side of my face, and then they had a hose hooked up underneath my chin, and there was a stunt guy with a button. It was so powerful, and I was so scared. I didn’t know when exactly it was going to come, so I was scared. The first time we did it, he was like, “It’s going to be really strong,” and I was like, “Okay,” but it literally knocked me off my heels for a minute. The director would be off to the side like, “Now, do a big one, Anna!” and then, “Do it small!” It was really, really, really funny!
CAMP: Yes, I did! I got really serious with the puke. I actually went to the Sunset Strip and I partied a lot. I mixed my alcohols, which I don’t normally do. And then, I went home and had somebody videotape it. No, but I do remember seeing Stand By Me, and that scene was so gross.
Skylar, were you a fan of The Breakfast Club before this?
ASTIN: Huge fan, yes! I love all the John Hughes movie. I was trying to do my best early John Cusack channeling. I do think that there is such a charm and a nostalgia with those movies, and I am so excited that I get to be a part of something that’s going to inform a completely new generation of young people to these movies that I guess now are older, even more so than when I was growing up. I was one generation removed, and now it’s a couple. It’s great, I’ve been getting Tweets from people that have seen advanced screenings who are like, “I can’t wait to watch The Breakfast Club now! I’m so excited!” I really do love The Breakfast Club.
How much improv went on, during shooting?
ASTIN: There was a fair amount, especially when it came to Rebel [Wilson] and Adam [Devine]. I had some liberties, too. It was more witty banter rather than big, heavy one-liners, so I got to live in between the lines a little bit, especially with Anna Kendrick for those scenes, just to make it more genuine and flirtatious and conversational. That was refreshing because I’ve definitely taken a shot at some of the stuff that Adam and Rebel do, on other projects. This was a totally different challenge and I loved doing it.
CAMP: There was some improv going on, and there was some major improv going on from Miss Rebel Wilson. It was definitely a task to stop myself from laughing when I was on camera with her. She would go and go with the craziest things. Half of it made it into the movie. She needs to have her own blooper reel of things because it’s so crazy, the things that come out of her mouth. You’re like, “What?!” It’s really, really great! She’s really inspiring to act with. Sometimes you don’t know when you’re allowed to improv. Some people don’t like it. Some directors and writers are like, “You have to say the words in the script,” but this was a very open, free, collaborative experience. It was really cool!
Skylar, what was it like to work with Adam Devine?
ASTIN: That kid is hilarious! I’ve never met a comedian who actually is genuinely funny, all the time. He will make you laugh the entire time, guaranteed. There are so many comedians out there that are very funny when they’re on, but when they’re off, they’re off. And I respect that, too. There are also times when comedians are always on, and it’s kind of annoying because they’re always on. Adam is just always in that perfect place of being a really funny, likable guy. So, working with him was a blast. And then, when we transitioned into the scenes, it was hard to keep it together, to be honest.
When did you both decide that you wanted to get into acting?
CAMP: I’ve been acting since I was in the second grade. Not professionally, but in my bathroom. I just knew, at a really young age, that I wanted to do it. I took my first acting class when I was little. They just had us recite a poem, and I had it all memorized. I was crying, as a kid, saying this silly poem, and I just thought, “I have to do this! I don’t know why, but it’s when I feel like the most myself.” I remember, I was in the second grade, in South Carolina.
ASTIN: I first got into acting when I was 14, coming back from a junior high school basketball game. My mom picked me up and she had been mentioning, prior to that, this community production of Godspell, a couple towns over. I was reluctant, at first, and she bribed me with some great dinner that was in that town, neighboring the theater. I always secretly really liked singing and I’ve been playing piano since I was five, so I went for it, in my basketball uniform. I sang “Happy Birthday,” or something like that, and I booked the gig, due to the lack of males at that level. I think Jesus was going to be a girl, for the first time, ever, so I snagged that. I did it and my life just did a complete 180. I became so immersed in it. I loved doing it. It was odd, at first, to do that, but once I really opened myself up to it, my life completely changed and I loved it. And then, three years later, I was trying to do it professionally. I realize now that the whole basketball story is the plot of High School Musical, but screw Zac Efron. I actually know Zac. He’s an amazing guy. But, his character is a jerk because that’s so my story, and I definitely had that, before that.
ASTIN: Of course!
CAMP: They were very supportive. They’ve always been behind me. They’ve just been like, “You better make some money, one of these days.” I’m like, “I’m trying! I’m trying to, dad!” They’ve been very supportive. I love them both!
Anna, what’s it like to be a part of The Mindy Project?
CAMP: We are shooting it right now. It’s going really, really well. It’s super funny! In the story, Mindy [Kaling] and I went to college together and we graduated from Princeton, at the same time. We thought we were going to go off to New York and be single and have fun, but I got married right away and had a kid. There’s an episode, mid-way through the season, that really shows my jealousies towards her life, and hers towards mine. It really paints a true picture. You always envy someone else’s life and, as a woman, you’re always comparing your life to someone else’s life. I think it does a really good, realistic job of painting that best friendship. We’ll see what happens. I hope people love it. Chris Messina is so good and so funny. Their dynamic together is really great. My fingers are crossed for the show.
Skylar, what do you have going on now?
ASTIN: I have a movie coming out in March that’s called 21 and Over. It’s written by the guys that wrote The Hangover (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore), and me and Miles Teller play the two leads. He was in Footloose and Rabbit Hole, and this is going to be a big Rebel Wilson-esque moment for him. He and I have the dynamic of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers. We’re like those two bros. Women will love that. We have the unique opportunity of having it be a bit of a girl’s movie that we’re trying to get guys to come to because it is so universal. That will be a little bit of an opposite thing. It’s The Hangover in college, but the difference between this and The Hangover is that we do not try to figure out what happened the night before. We drag you through that night. You will see what happens from 8 o’clock to 8 o’clock, in one cray-cray night. There will be an entire gag reel dedicated to Miles and I.
If they made or remade any musical into a movie, what would you want to be in?
ASTIN: I heard they’re doing Wicked, at some point, but I don’t think there’s a role for me. Maybe Fiyero, but they’re going to go with some pretty boy. I would love that, though.
CAMP: I’d want to do Debbie Does Dallas. There’s a musical of Debbie Does Dallas that was at the Fringe Festival in New York. It’s really great music. It’s based on the porn, but it’s very sad. It’s actually really cool. It just makes statements about wanting to be famous, and stuff like that. I would love that.
Pitch Perfect opened in limited release on September 28th, and in wide release on October 5th.