By: Mary Kate Dorr – Asst. A&E Editor
This Christmas, the timeless fairytales from your childhood will be brought to life on the big screen in James Lapine’s “Into the Woods,” featuring music by Stephen Sondheim. The film, based on the Broadway musical, follows Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel as their paths converge in a witch’s scheme to teach each character a lesson.
The film features an all-star cast, including Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt. “Pitch Perfect’s” Anna Kendrick stars as Cinderella, with co-star Chris Pine playing the role of Prince Charming.
Both Kendrick and Pine worked to make such readily available roles their own. In the midst of such an emotional and complex film, Pine plays a two dimensional prince who is deeply infatuated with himself and his storybook lifestyle.
“He’s really just a buffoon,” Pine said. “I had a lot of fun making the prince so buffoon-ish.”
“And I had a lot of fun watching Chris be a buffoon,” Kendrick said, who had to delve into a deeper mindset for her role as Cinderella. Kendrick described Cinderella as a modern woman who has trouble reaching decisions because she overthinks and overanalyzes the events of her life. She sees this as a tendency in modern women to not trust their gut and wanted to portray that in Cinderella.
“She just overthinks throughout the entire piece until something she really reckons with happens. It becomes clear what is important to her when her community is in danger,” Kendrick said. This reckoning becomes a pivotal moment in the film in which Cinderella must face a decision about her future as an individual and her future with Prince Charming, and it’s a twist you’ll just have to see in theaters.
Director Rob Marshall wanted to bring a modern sensibility to the film. Kendrick and Pine were pleased to portray updated versions of such timeless roles.
“These characters belong to the ages, so it makes sense to update them with every generation,” Kendrick said.
Marshall’s experience in the theater world was a major influence in the outcome of the film.
“He recognized the importance of having rehearsal, which really just infused a sense of community in the cast,” Pine said.
This vibe helped such a diverse cast participating in multiple storylines feel as if they were all on the same page.
“It was just a great feeling to have throughout filming,” Pine said.
“Into the Woods” is unique in that it will reach both adult and child audiences. The film infuses the excitement of the fairytales loved by children with the harsher lessons that adults have taught to their children, and that kids take these lessons to heart.
“We have to understand they are listening to us and it’s our responsibility to prepare them for the reality of the world, which is really what the second half of the film is about,” Kendrick said.
Both Pine and Kendrick agreed one of the greatest challenges of the film was adapting to the Sondheim music after both having experience in more current genres. However, they had fun learning the ins and outs of this new style and were glad to be supported by such a talented cast.
“It was petrifying and exciting,” Kendrick said, who diverged from the standard Billboard Top 100 of her “Pitch Perfect” role for both a classic and challenging piece. Both actors agreed that while difficult, the experience was rewarding and fulfilling.
“It’s honestly been a dream come true,” Kendrick said.