LOS ANGELES -- Voice work was something Anna Kendrick always wanted to do, but she had no idea how to break into that world. That's why when she was offered a voice role in "ParaNorman," Kendrick almost said yes without reading the script.
"It was really exciting, while reading the script, to realize that this is like a kids' adventure movie, which was my favorite thing when I was growing up," Kendrick says. "It's this band of hooligans trying to save the day and their parents are either nowhere to be found or are no help."
Kendrick, 27, is the voice of Courtney, the superficial teen-age sister to the film's central character who can see dead people. Courtney's got a volatile nature and can go in a snap from being thrilled talking on the phone to a friend to being despondent over spilled nail polish.
The actress had no trouble channeling her inner teen. All Kendrick had to do was remember the worst moments of the worst fights she had with her mom.
"I didn't use that voice when I was a kid, but it was a fun voice to find," Kendrick says.
The only fear she had was all of the embarrassing grunts, groans and other sounds she had to make. It helped that she was often in the recording studio with Casey Affleck, who voices the muscle-bound object of Courtney's affections. The pair got very competitive trying to out-grunt each other.
Courtney's an unwitting member of the teen team, but Kendrick had no trouble facing the big world when she was young. She had already earned a Tony Award (Best Actress Featured Role -- Musical for "High Society") by the time she was 13.
"In retrospect, it feels brave and scary and strange. But at the time, it was: 'This is what I have to do and I have no other choice other than to do this,' " Kendrick says.
And she keeps doing it. "ParaNorman" is one of six films featuring Kendrick that are scheduled to come out this year. It could have been seven, but her "Twilight" character is not in the series' final movie.
"I think I made too many movies last year," Kendrick says. "By the end of the year, I was really tired."
What makes this flock of films so surprising is that they come after a period where Kendrick was gun shy about taking work. After earning an Oscar nomination for her work in 2009's "Up In the Air," Kendrick passed on several projects because she felt a lot of pressure to only do quality work.
She kept busy reprising her small role in the "Twilight" movies, but she didn't really jump back into full-time filmmaking until she made "50/50" last year. Since then, Kendrick has been on a hectic acting pace.
"Suddenly, I felt like: 'Isn't the point that I want to work because I love my job and I love being on set?' " she says. "I want to have fun, and I shouldn't be thinking about how it all fits into some perfect plan or perfect path. It should be what makes me happy when I wake up in the morning and have to go to work."
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355 or firstname.lastname@example.org