Anna Kendrick opens up concerning the abuse that formed ‘Alice, Darling’

Anna Kendrick’s newest movie, “Alice, Darling,” didn’t want an emotional abuse marketing consultant. Its emotional abuse marketing consultant was Anna Kendrick.

Lead actor and govt producer Kendrick had just lately come out of an emotionally abusive relationship of her personal when she was despatched the screenplay, written by Alanna Francis, which particulars the expertise of a girl struggling, whereas on trip with two shut associates, to return to phrases with the truth that she’s been psychologically abused by her boyfriend.

“I really related to Alice’s obsessive mind,” Kendrick informed The Occasions. The script had a line by which Alice needs she may purify her ideas, and though Kendrick didn’t have that very same thought, she remembers writing in her journal, “I’m just going to try a little harder. If I could just get it right, if I could make it perfect, if I could just say it in the perfect way, I’ll be OK.”

“It’s this totally irrational hope that if I’m just a little bit better, I’ll be safe. It’s like having a pair of pliers on your heart,” she mentioned.

“Alice, Darling,” opening in Los Angeles Friday, was filmed in June and July of 2021, solely six months after Kendrick obtained the script. However with the assistance of her therapist, a protecting forged and crew, and director Mary Nighy’s supply to offer assist if issues received too intense, Kendrick felt protected. She defined that this was essential, as a result of when a part of your authentic trauma is being invalidated, you wish to encompass your self with individuals who perceive.

Director Mary Nighy, left, confers with actors Wunmi Mosaku, Kaniehtiio Horn and Anna Kendrick on the set of “Alice, Darling.”


Many within the forged and crew not solely sympathized with Kendrick’s scenario, they’d lived it themselves, both as survivors or associates of survivors.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been in a lot of emotionally and other types of abusive relationships,” mentioned Kaniehtiio Horn, who performs Alice’s good friend Tess. “It’s pretty safe to say 85% of my relationships were pretty abusive.”

Horn mentioned that, though she doesn’t suggest trauma bonding, it was a necessity for this particular movie, as a result of the actors established belief by means of their shared experiences. Earlier than assembly in particular person, she and Kendrick related over a prolonged video name.

“In an hour I learned a lot about Anna Kendrick,” Horn mentioned, “and she learned a lot about me. Really deeply layered things that nobody will probably ever hear.”

Kendrick remembers watching films whereas in her personal abusive relationship and by no means recognizing her personal expertise, which made her query whether or not it was simply regular.

She mentioned she informed Nighy that she’d somewhat have 1 in 10 folks watch the film and assume, “Simon was a jerk, but don’t be so dramatic,” somewhat than have a second the place he shoves Alice right into a wall so all people will get on the identical web page that he’s an abusive unhealthy man. “That was a big part of my problem. ‘Well he never hit me and I’m not really afraid that he’s going to hit me. How do I discern between normal conflict and abuse? Why is my body in so much fear all of the time? Why do I wake up feeling like he’s in bed next to me and wondering, ‘OK, do I have 30 seconds before I start performing or … ?’”

Kendrick mentioned how dwelling in an abusive relationship creates a lot self-doubt that individuals query their very own actuality. She describes it as, “He’s so convinced that I am a monster that I can’t see how I am not.”

Through the closing levels of enhancing, Kendrick urged Nighy to “pull back” even additional, recounting an early dialog with co-star Wunmi Mosaku about why they preferred Francis’ script. “I said that I love that it really relied on Alice’s experience rather than cataloging evidence of the behavior from Simon,” Kendrick recalled. “Wunmi said, ‘But Anna, you’re the evidence.’”

At this level in our cellphone interview, Kendrick cuts herself off and begins apologizing. It takes a beat to understand she’s crying.

“I was begging Mary, ‘Can Alice be the evidence?’” Kendrick mentioned. “Because not only do I want us to not make a movie that’s already been made, but personally, I need to trust that I’m the evidence. Part of it was like, if you can’t trust Alice, then I can’t trust myself. So it was really, really important that the movie relied so heavily on just staying with Alice.”

She additionally resisted any implication that bodily abuse was solely a matter of time: “You don’t have to believe that it might get physical for you to feel like you’re allowed to leave, that you deserve to be treated better, deserve to feel safe.”

In her personal restoration, Kendrick mentioned no quantity of cataloging proof — writing down dates, instances, arguments and turning into a “detective in [her] own life” — may persuade her that she wasn’t imagining all of it. “To sit in grief and to believe my own body has been so much harder, but so much more rewarding,” Kendrick mentioned. “I have to believe we can follow Alice and trust her, because that’s my work now: to trust myself.”

Nighy, making her function movie directing debut, mentioned she felt the load of doing the story justice, significantly with so many survivors on the closeknit set — the place weekend barbecues had been widespread and relationships solid throughout a two-week quarantine grew nearer nonetheless. When she was interviewing folks for jobs on the crew, folks would inform Nighy they wished to work on it as a result of it resonated with them. Throughout post-production, she and movie editor Gareth C. Scales would cease and take walks to get a breather after repeatedly watching scenes by which Kendrick’s character anxiously pulls out her hair.

Nighy mentioned her workforce wished the movie to face out not solely as a result of it centered on psychological versus bodily abuse, but in addition within the restraint utilized in portraying Alice and her abuser, Simon. “We were really aiming for something quite nuanced.”

Nighy held screenings for family and friends to get a way of whether or not that nuance was correctly captured. She was shocked when good associates of hers, whom she hadn’t identified had skilled abuse, got here as much as her to afterward to speak about it. Viewers members approached her in tears after the movie screened for the general public on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition.

One lady, a medical psychologist, cried and mentioned, “I think your film could save lives,” Nighy recalled.

Earlier than Kendrick obtained the script, there was a scene by which Alice took off her sweater and had seen bruises. Nighy requested that it’s faraway from the draft. “In society, physical abuse is very clearly defined as an evil, and I think psychological and emotional abuse, even for those who have suffered it, can sometimes question whether it’s a real thing.”

Nighy mentioned that Kendrick informed her, “Some people won’t get this at all.” At screenings the director encountered males who mentioned Simon didn’t appear that unhealthy. However she felt it was “better to be accurate [and] restrained” so that individuals watching it may discern their very own scenario.

The delicate pressure reaches a climax in a scene towards the tip of the movie by which Alice is sandwiched between her associates as they attempt to take her away from Simon. Nighy mentioned Kendrick had a robust opinion about how she wished to play it, and Kendrick mentioned she remembers considering all people on set should have been questioning her emotional state. “I know this looks crazy, but I’ve never been more certain that this is right,” Kendrick remembers considering.

Within the scene, Alice refuses to take a look at Simon, her eyes locked on her good friend Sophie’s. “Sophie’s actions have just knocked me onto a tightrope of willingness,” Kendrick mentioned. “Which was the phrase I used on that day, that I knew made me sound completely f— insane. I was like, ‘If I break eye contact with her, I will fall off the tightrope. This is a survival technique.’”

For his half, actor Charlie Carrick created his portrayal of Simon by researching abuse and fascinated by how most individuals’s want for management comes from their very own fears and insecurities. In his analysis, it was “very hard to find testimony from somebody who has been a perpetrator of that abuse,” not to mention anyone who can converse to how they received to the place of being an abuser. He talked to Nighy about how Simon is incapable of regulating his feelings.

Kendrick referred to as Carrick a helpful artistic ally. “He really understands that Simon genuinely believes himself to be the victim.” She added, “Simon was never the mustache-twirling villain who felt entitled to hurt people.”

Due to how private the fabric was, Kendrick discovered it a lot simpler to speak to Carrick about Simon than take into consideration Alice.

“I had spent over a year desperately focusing on the Simon,” mentioned Kendrick, who has not spoken publicly concerning the identification of her abuser. “It was too painful to look at what I was going through, but I was very comfortable speculating about the motivations, inner worlds, thoughts and emotions of the Simon. Alice and what she was going through was much less comfortable for me.”

Three women in the woods

“I know this looks crazy, but I’ve never been more certain that this is right,” Kendrick remembers fascinated by the climactic scene in “Alice, Darling.”


Mosaku, who delivers a commanding efficiency as supportive good friend Sophie, mentioned the film’s climax depends on Alice’s associates realizing they might lose her: “You can lose someone spiritually, emotionally, physically. Women die every week at the hands of a partner or ex-partner.”

In Kendrick’s scenario, as in Alice‘s, it was friendship that pulled her again to actuality. “That was the first thing that made me drop back into my body in a year and a half; somebody just doing the one thing he couldn’t do, which was telling me, ‘You’re right, I’m sorry, you’re not crazy.’

“I’m so grateful to that person and the gift [they] gave me,” Kendrick continued. “I don’t know how to describe it other than feeling like one of those dorky CGI ghosts in ’90s movies that suddenly enter back into your body and you wake up and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I’m here. Oh! I’m hungry for the first time in forever.’”

And though the movie’s ending permits the viewer to have hope for Alice, it additionally underscores a lesson Kendrick has discovered from her personal expertise: “Alice has got a long journey ahead of her.”