Everyone was crapping their pants about Portland’s appearance on Forbes’s annoyingly titled “America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods” list last week, but I was more excited to hear that Famous Portlander / big time actress Anna Kendrick briefly discussed her time growing up in Maine’s largest city during her appearance on Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist podcast.
Kendrick has appeared in the wonderful Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Twilight Saga and, she received a much-deserved Oscar nomination for her outstanding performance in Up in the Air. She stars in End of Watch, which came out this week. On the podcast she touched on her Portland upbringing and renting movies at what I believe must be Videoport (because where else would you accidentally rent movies like Mouchette?)
Nerdist: What is in Portland, Maine? I have never been to Portland.
Anna Kendrick: I think people are a bit disappointed about what I have to say about Portland. It was neither here nor there in terms of a great story. Obviously I thought it was lovely and I am really glad I got to grow up there, but I wasn’t living in a log cabin. I grew up in the largest city in Maine, which is only 65,000 people.
Nerdist: Oh, so you lived in a log high-rise.
Kendrick: Hell yeah. [Laughs] No, it really felt kind of suburban and kind of traditional I guess. In the most cliche way, everybody there just can’t wait to leave and it’s not until you leave that being from Maine becomes part of my identity and I am really a proud Mainer.
Nerdist: Could you ever live there again?
Kendrick: When I was growing up there, there were still two art house cinemas, and there was a video store there. I remember going into a video store and picking up Mouchette and watching films like that by accident, and I think that video store still stands, but the two art house cinemas are gone. So I don’t know that I can hack it at this point, because a lot of movies never make it out there. It is not because they get there a little later, they just never get there.
Bonus: Listen through the end of the podcast to hear a funny imagining of Kendrick attending her high school reunion.
Update [11:27 AM]: Truth be told, I was surprised to see a bit of a back-lash to this piece on Facebook. Perhaps I did not provide the proper context and some folks have read Kendrick’s tone as high and mighty, or holier than though, and I did not get this impression from her interview at all. After her description of Portland, she talks at great length about her adoration for the history of cinema and her preference to see movies in theater alone, and so it struck me as understandable how Portland might not have what Kendrick is looking for.
I understand what she is saying. I often miss the access I had to the plethora and diversity of media I that came with living in Brooklyn and I was recently reminded of this when I was in Los Angeles earlier this year. You find yourself in these places and hear about movies you have never hear about and think “WHAT IS THIS? WHERE HAVE I BEEN?” And then you remember that you have been in Maine. When I lived in Brooklyn, I wrote articles for Time because I met an editor at a coffee shop. Not long ago, I was staying at a hotel in New York and the Dirty Projectors were playing in the lobby. That kind of access is unparalleled and I can understand how someone who is in Kendrick’s position and has her passions might feel unfulfilled in town.
Acknowledging this isn’t to suggest that Portland isn’t very special in the many ways that it is, and that it isn’t marked its own kind of magic. There is so much that is amazing here, so much to love, and it strikes me that maybe because Kendrick didn’t identify these things explicitly, some get the impression she is missing the point, which I didn’t at all interpret to be the case. She needs a certain something, it seems, and it is not the same thing we have decided we need, and she is pursuing it where she finds it to be more widely available.
Also: Kendrick appeared in a recent Nerdist-produced Ben Folds music video. She appeared alongside a number of Fraggles. Check it out.
PHOTO CREDIT: We Are Movie Geeks
NOTE: I think that one of the cinemas Kendrick was talking about was The Movies on Exchange, which is I believe is now housed in the Portland Museum of Art.
NOTE: While I am a devout Nerdist fan, I must give express many thanks to Lauren Clemence Casula for giving me the heads up about this mention. Thanks, Lauren!