Hailee Steinfeld may have been the newbie of “Pitch Perfect 2’s” Barden Bellas, but co-star Brittany Snows says the rookie — an Oscar-nominated rookie, we should point out — introduction to the chorus was instant harmony.
The sequel to the surprise hit comedy/quasi-musical of 2012 features the acca-obsessive sisterhood of collegiate singers a little further down the road as graduation looms for Beca (Anna Kendrick), meaning the group will have room for another fresh-faced vocalist — and fresh eyes for the audience to view the manic musical proceedings through.
That’s where Steinfeld’s Emily comes in. A nervous legacy Bella who’s dreamed all her life of being part of the group, Emily enters the acca-world without realizing exactly how dysfunctional the group can be. Meanwhile, Snow’s Chloe remains the Bella’s constant, bringing her pure, optimistic vision of an acca-cohesive world to the rest of the girls.
Ahead of the film’s premiere, both actresses joined the press to discuss bringing the Bellas back, with a new voice in the mix.
On going from being a super-fan of the first film to one of the stars of the second:
Hailee Steinfeld: Oh, my gosh! I don’t know how many times I saw that first movie — a lot! I actually just recently watched it again, last week, with a friend who had never seen it before, so that was fun. But being such a huge fan of the first movie, knowing that I was going to be a part of the second one was just so surreal and so exciting. It’s amazing to be a part of this.
[Singing is] something that I’ve loved doing, always. I was just looking for the right opportunity to explore it. As an actor, wanting to sing is viewed in a different way, so as an actor, I was looking for an opportunity to find a way that I could sing somehow. When this came along, it was a dream role for that sort of thing.
The first time I sang live in the movie was when I sang live for the Bellas, when I auditioned for them. So the first time that you will hear me sing live is when I sang live, for the first time, for the Bellas.
Brittany Snow: She was amazing! She has an amazing voice. I was completely shocked. I just had no idea that she could sing like that. And then, getting to hear her live was amazing. It’s very soulful. For being so young, she’s got a lot of heart in there.
On the level of improv they brought to their roles:
Steinfeld: From more of an outsider’s standpoint, the girls had it down the second time around. The banter is so real and genuine and spontaneous. For me, my character is really good about just going with the flow and agreeing with everything, so in terms of improv, it was fairly easy.
Snow: On this one, [director/producer/co-star] Elizabeth Banks really gave us the freedom to try things out, even if it didn’t work. She knew that the more time that was given for improv, the more little things there would be that could get picked up along the way. There was a lot more improv on this one.
A lot of it doesn’t make it, but sometimes it does, and you get the sense that we tried new things. We felt safe with each other because we knew each other better, so there was a collaborative atmosphere, this time around. There was on the first one too, but we knew each other’s comedy so well [this time], we really had a chance to play.
On whether there was any off-screen hazing of new kid Haille by the established Bellas:
Snow: We don’t like to talk about it, but we beat her and made her sing while doing push-ups. No! We were really excited to meet her, and when she walked in, we were really, really glad that she liked the first one so well. She really became a part of us, very quickly. There wasn’t any sort of feeling uncomfortable, which is because of how genuine she is. It was very seamless, how it all happened.
Steinfeld: I do think there may be some similarities between me and my character, in terms of being the deer in headlights, completely new, very eager and fans of everyone. Walking into a world that was already established was equally as intimidating, as it was exciting and thrilling. But I had a very warm welcome, and all of the girls were very helpful in getting me caught up.
On the scenes that were the most fun to shoot:
Snow: The slumber party scene was actually really fun to shoot because we genuinely all were in a big tent, sleeping in various positions, really close to each other. In between takes, we didn’t get out of the tent, so we just were all banded together. Rebel [Wilson] went on an improv for a really long time, and then I decided to sing Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn.”
I went up to Liz [Banks] afterward and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t think you’re going to buy that song.” And she said, “Oh, no — we might.” And they did, and it was fun that they made it in there. We sang that song, in its entirety, probably about 20 times, and it’s always a good go-to song to bring the girls together. That was really fun.
On shooting underground riff-off scenes with real members of the Green Bay Packers:
Steinfeld: I didn’t realize that a group of the manliest men in the world were such fans of “Pitch Perfect.” It was shocking. They would go into their trailers, in between set-ups, and come back and show us videos of them doing full-on numbers from the first movie.
Snow: They each had their own parts and would do the dance.
Steinfeld: It was really impressive. The riff-off is one of my favorite scenes in the first movie, so to be a part of this one was really, really fun.
Snow: Luckily, I wasn’t on camera when David Cross was talking to Hailee. He was genius.
On keeping straight faces when Rebel Wilson is having a moment:
Snow: All of her improv comes with a plan. She knows what she’s doing beforehand, and she has a list of various things that she could say. And then, she waits until the last minute to say the one that is the craziest one, so you never know what’s gonna come. She’s extremely smart, so she knows how to improv and how to make sure that it’s what she thought about, to make it work with the scene. She always wants to surprise us. She likes that shock factor.
On the movie’s theme of friendship, and whether Hollywood careers make it harder to maintain lasting bonds:
Snow: In any industry, I think it’s always difficult to find those people who you gravitate towards and are life-long friends with. I don’t really think it’s this business, necessarily. But I’ve been really lucky to make some of my best friends on films, and keep them throughout my life.
One of my best friends and my roommate is Kelley Jakle, who I actually met on the first movie. That is the epitome of working on a movie and being sisters, and she is somebody who I will be friends with, forever. There are a lot of girls and guys in this business that have the right intentions, and you find them and hold onto them. I think that’s important.
On whether the project, with its large female cast and a woman in the director’s chair, felt different than films:
Snow: I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of female directors. One of my first movies was a female director, too, so I’ve been used to that vibe. I never saw this movie as a female empowering movie. I’m so glad that it is, but I don’t think any of us set out to do that. We just wanted to showcase all of these different girls from different backgrounds with different ways of thinking, and have them be unique and have people relate to them.
On set, having a woman director definitely lent itself to girl power and bringing us all together. But the cool thing about this movie is that it’s fun, no matter whether you’re a girl or a guy. Guys like it and girls like it. It’s not specific to a gender. I think that’s why it’s empowering for women — there’s no separation.
On whether they’d return for one more riff-off:
Snow: I’m the last person to ever know [about sequels]. I think I found out through Twitter that there was a rumor that “Pitch Perfect 2” was happening. I’m just grateful that I got asked to come back, and I would love to do “Pitch Perfect 3.” I was joking that Chloe might be 40 years old when she comes back, but she’s still gonna be a Bella. I would do “Pitch Perfect 8.”
Steinfeld: We really are the last to know about anything, but if I were to have the opportunity to come back and have a second experience with this, I would love that!
“Pitch Perfect 2” is in theaters now.
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