Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, James Corden, James Lapine and Rob Marshall Talk INTO THE WOODS, Casting, the Rehearsal Process, “Tinderella” and More

     December 20, 2014

Question: Emily and Anna, do you get princess fever?  If you could play any Disney princess, who would you like to play?  And also to the director, this casting is totally amazing with award-winners and newcomers all together.  What were the difficulties you faced during casting?

into-the-woods-anna-kendrick-emily-bluntMARSHALL: For me, what I was looking for was actors that have deep humanity, that you feel for, that you care for, that have humor and have depth and fragility, which makes you understand and root for these people.  And one of my favorite things about this piece is that it begins with everyone wanting something desperately.  I wish, I wish, I wish.  And it’s a beautiful thing.  When you have that, it’s all these underdogs.  They all are hoping for something that they can achieve and if you don’t get on board with them and love them – and this is every character including the witch and, you know, everybody you should be feeling for, and I was so lucky to put together this amazing cast.  You can see; these are great people in addition to being great actors, and I was in heaven every day working with this extraordinary cast.  I think we were all scared when we started.  It’s an incredibly beautiful piece and we all wanted to do it a great service, but I think we all sort of just grabbed hands together and jumped in, and it felt playful.  That time in rehearsal where you create a company is a very special time, because it’s in that time that we all feel we’re doing the same film.  And so when you get to filming, we had a very tight schedule and a very tight budget, we were moving quickly, but we knew what we were doing.  I felt like we were ready and so when we got there on the day we were able to actually start filming immediately.  But it was because everybody was working together, and it’s ironic because that’s what the piece is about, it’s about the community coming together, this beautiful family that’s created in the end, it’s about moving forward together with the song “No One Is Alone,” which is really the central theme of the piece, and I felt that was happening while we were making the film as well.

Question: And the princess that would you like to be?

BLUNT: I would be Princess Jasmine because I’ve always wanted a pet tiger.  I’m gonna go for that, Anna.  I’m sorry I chimed in.  If you were gonna be Jasmine, I apologize. 

KENDRICK: No, I was gonna go Ariel because I get a pet flounder and crab.  [Laughter] 

Question: Rob, I wanted to ask you about working with Dion Beebe again.  Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago – how did you approach putting this together?  It’s a stage production.  What was the particular challenge and how did you approach putting it on screen?

MARSHALL: I love talking about Dion.  We all love talking about Dion because if you walk onto the set, the last person you would imagine as the director of photograph is Dion Beebe because he’s so quiet and so humble and he’s just an artist.  I think he’s a painter of motion and light, and that’s how I feel.  He understands the fluidity of camera movement, he understands the beauty of light, but he also understands we were creating a fantasy world but not a two dimensional fantasy world.  It had to have some truth to it because they’re real people in this, like I said before, that you need to care about.  And I have such a shorthand with him because of the work we’ve done before.  It was very important, actually, for me to have him on this film because we were moving quickly.  And Colleen Atwood as well, another longtime collaborator of mine, because she understands how we work.  It’s just a full-on collaboration is what it is, I mean, with him.  He knows what I’m about to say before I say it and I know what he’s gonna say before we say it.  We’re moving like that together.  It’s a beautiful partnership.

into-the-woods-corden-blunt-huttlestoneQuestion: How important was it that your cast members had backgrounds in theater?  Because everybody in this movie has done theater.  Was that a major point in the casting, whether they’ve done musicals or not?

MARSHALL: It wasn’t intentional, but in an odd way it made sense once it was put together because everyone had that discipline, which is a big part of it, I have to say.  You know, the discipline of theater is where you learn the chops. These people have real chops, these actors, and also understand the idea of an ensemble piece.  That’s something that only comes with a company and that comes in theater.  It’s rare to see that.  I mean, listen, I’ve been very lucky in my career to be able to work with amazing actors but this was very special because it felt like a company.  You know, the great thing about the theater training is that every single person at this beautiful table here has an unbelievable range, and that’s what I love about this company.  They’re all so funny and they also have such great depth as actors, too, and feeling, and that comes from real chops and you get that in a theater, that’s for sure.

Question: Anna and Chris, a bunch of us grew up on Disney fairytales, but how do you guys think that these stories apply, or maybe they don’t apply, to the craziness of modern day dating?


CORDEN: Nice question.  Tinder. 

Journalist: Tinderella.

CORDEN: Tinderella!  That’s a hashtag!  Put it out there now!  

KENDRICK: James, shut it!  [Laughter] Oh, boy.  I’ve got to get in front of this story.  Someone give me my phone!  [Laughter] I understand that’s sort of a half serious question, but, to be honest, I think that this has something very mature and modern to say about separation.  When Cinderella and The Prince, they have this conversation and a lot of people, you know, they’re like, ‘This isn’t your everyday Cinderella and she kicks him to the curb,’ and while that’s sort of true, the fact that it’s done with so much civility and compassion I think – my parents set an amazing example for me because they divorced when I was 15 and we’re having Thanksgiving dinner together in a couple of days.  And I know that that’s not always the case, but I think that that scene meant so much to me because I feel love for people that I have loved and I think that’s so beautiful and I think that’s such an important lesson for children that, you know, people can have disagreements but it doesn’t mean one is bad and one is good.  I feel so grateful to my family for setting this amazing example within separation and I hope that that scene is a reflection of that. 

into-the-woods-chris-pineCORDEN: Chris, would you swipe left or right on Tinder?  If Anna came up on Tinder, would you swipe left or right? 

PINE: Umm … 

CORDEN: Left or right! 

PINE: [Laughs] I think that …

CORDEN: Chris Pine doesn’t need Tinder, that’s what we’re realizing.  Life is Tinder for Chris Pine.  He literally steps out of his door into a virtual Tinder.  That’s every day. 

PINE: You know, I think obviously we tell each other stories in life and as storytellers that’s what we do.  We tell each other stories so we can understand the world better and there’s catharsis and we understand the models of what a hero could be and what the hero’s journey as a human being is all about.  But unfortunately, I think sometimes those stories too can be very prohibitive and confining, and this idea that we, especially in Western culture, Western literature, Tristan and Isolde, and Romeo and Juliet, that there’s some kind of all-encompassing burning passionate love that will never die out unless you both die.  It is so depressing and not real.  And that these two people, The Prince living out this storybook life all the time in a completely non-relational manner with a woman that he’s apparently in love with, I think it’s very telling that this relationship, there’s not one conversation until the last moment where they break up.  I mean, if you look at the film it’s just these little eighth page things of looking up gazingly, fervently at one another, and it doesn’t mean anything, and I think the beautiful thing about it is that here’s a woman that chooses to get out of the story of Romeo and Juliet and Tristan and Isolde.  It’s like, ‘Check it out.  I don’t want you because you’re lame and you don’t listen to me.’  But actually in that final moment he does listen and I think it’s very telling for The Prince that he says, ‘Is this what you want?’  He’s being very respectful and the boundaries are very clear. 

KENDRICK: It’s the first time he asks anyone a question in the whole movie. 

PINE: Yeah.  But I think there’s this trope in literature that somehow we’re not whole unless we have another, which I don’t think is – personally for me – I think it’s not fair to the uniqueness and wonderfulness of the individuals, that we can complement one another greatly, but we are not the source of each other’s happiness, especially if you don’t know who the hell you’re talking to.

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