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PITCH PERFECT

Casting the Comedy
Not only were the filmmakers tasked with looking for talented actors, the performers had to have the ability to sing and learn choreography. Explains Brooks: "First and foremost, we were looking for actors who had comedic instincts and thought we'd get lucky with terrific actors who happened to be funny and can actually dance and maybe sing. It turns out we did get lucky with our cast!"

Cast as Beca, an incoming freshman and a young woman allergic to joining any student activities group, was Academy Award - and Tony Award-nominated actress Anna Kendrick. Though her character starts off as a bit of a loner, Beca's innovative deejay skills and ability to "mash" traditional and modern music make The Bellas believe they might have a shot as they pursue a championship title.

"Beca is the eyes and ears of the audience," explains Moore. "She considers herself a serious musician and doesn't want to be a part of this weird world. Anna Kendrick brings real warmth to a character that might be considered an outsider. She gives the movie a strong center."

"The character Beca required someone who was grounded, who has a strong point of view on the world, who is funny and empathetic and someone who we can all relate to and root for," says Banks. "Anna is all those things, and there was no other choice for the movie."

Brooks echoes Banks' praises of Kendrick: "I saw Anna in Up in the Air and thought it was the most exquisite, elegant, balanced, sublime performance. Anna was our first choice for the role of Beca."

Kendrick's background in theater helped with developing her character, who is discovered singing (really well) by Brittany Snow's character, Chloe, when they shower next to each other. "I did theater when I was a little kid, and I've basically been singing in the shower since then," laughs Kendrick. "I was in choir when I was in high school and would take vocal lessons once a week, but it's not like I have had conservatory training. Taking on the role was a little scary, but lots of fun."

When it came to casting Jesse, a college freshman and naturally talented singer who joins The Treblemakers and chases after Beca, the filmmakers thought they might have a slightly harder time than casting the other characters. Explains Handelman: "We were looking for a young John Cusack-type guy. We needed to find someone who was kind of awkward but not a geek, but not so cool that you're not rooting for him." The filmmakers discovered their guy in Skylar Astin.

Says Banks of Astin's audition: "When Skylar and Anna read together before we started shooting, the chemistry was clear and they were able to riff off each other. We wanted their dialogue to go fast, and we wanted them to be two intellectuals and two wits that went head-to-head."

Astin was ready to tackle a movie filled with musical elements. "I come from theater, so in a lot of ways this has been a perfect blend for me. I was up to the challenge. Anna adds this intellectual spirit, which is fun because my character has to break down her character's wall."

Of her co-star, Kendrick comments: "Skylar is so witty and sharp, and he's charming when he sings. In the riff-off scene, when we're in the pool, it was cold and we were all tired. Every time he came into the middle and did his solo, it brightened us up."

For the role of Fat Amy, the irrepressible Aussie who's sure she's a star, the filmmakers went after comedic actress Rebel Wilson, who nearly stole her scenes in 2011's comedic blockbuster Bridesmaids. Not your typical member of The Bellas, Fat Amy coined her own nickname so that "twig bitches like you don't do it behind my back." While she hates participating in cardio activities, Fat Amy puts on a mean singing performance. Says Handelman: "Rebel is someone that we knew could be counted on to improv and come up with all sorts of crazy, hilarious lines."

Moore recalls Wilson's audition: "Rebel came in to audition for Fat Amy, and she sang Lady Gaga's 'Edge of Glory' while beating on her chest with her fists. I didn't even hear the end of the song because I was laughing so hard. There's this beautiful openness to the way Rebel approaches everything, and that's what works great for the character. She's fearless.

"She originally auditioned with an American accent," continues the director. "But Rebel has such a command of the comedy and her own vernacular that her natural accent made her character feel more like an outsider, which is good for the story."

Of her character, Wilson jokes: "Fat Amy really likes The Bellas because they're going to be a vehicle for her to show her talents, to show how good she is at singing, and how good she is at doing the half splits. She's going to use this experience in The Bellas to then go to Broadway…or top-level pageants. I'm talking Miss America, Miss World, Miss Outer Space."

Up-and-coming actor Adam DeVine, star of Comedy Central's Workaholics, was cast as Bumper, the lead soloist of the all-male group The Treblemakers, whose showboating redefines modern a cappella. The ladies can't get enough of him, and Bumper helped lead The Treblemakers to last year's ICCAs. Says Banks: "My husband and I are big Workaholics fans. We were watching the show one night while we were casting the movie, and we immediately thought Adam would be great for Bumper. At first, Adam resisted because he said he wasn't a singer. Sure enough, at his audition, he took himself and all of us by surprise with his vocal skills. He even sings on the track that opens our movie."

DeVine discusses his character: "Bumper is a stone-cold maniac. He's serious about a cappella to the point that it's weird. The Treblemakers rule the school… minus all the popular kids and the jocks and the cool kids and the kids that like to surf and the kids that smoke. Basically, everyone else is cooler than them, but as far as the 30 people that are into a cappella at the school, they're the best."

The role of The Bellas' exceptionally focused music director and demonic possessor of the pitch pipe, Aubrey, is played by Anna Camp, recently seen on CBS' The Good Wife and HBO's True Blood. Aubrey is a bundle of nerves, and her stomach issues (and boring choice of music) torpedoed The Bellas' placement in last year's ICCAs. Explains Handelman: "Elizabeth and I were huge fans of Anna's from True Blood. Aubrey is set up as the antagonist for Beca, and Beca's already a bit hard-edged, so it was so important to find an actress who could play Aubrey as someone who could marshal the crazy but also was sympathetic."

Camp describes her character: "Some would say that Aubrey is a little uptight. She likes to keep things in order, she has her own way of doing things and she wants to uphold tradition. She's steadfast in her opinions and very passionate about vocal music. Aubrey and Beca don't get along right away, and she sees Beca as rebelling against what Aubrey considers is the traditional way of doing things. Our characters butt heads instantly."

Cast in the role of Chloe, a member of The Bellas who is eager to regroup the team with pretty much any woman who can sing, was Brittany Snow, whose past singing-on-film experience includes the hit Hairspray. "Brittany was on the short list to play Chloe all along and nailed her audition," says Banks. "We wanted Chloe to have a cheerleader essence but also have a little edge to her."

Snow recalls that the comedy was an easy one to join: "I remember putting the script down and saying that I have to be in this movie and will play any character. I didn't care if I had two lines. It was such a unique story about these girls and how their differences unite them. Coming from a singing and dancing background, I thought it would be great to be a part of something where I get to do all three of my favorite things."

The rest of The Bellas include up-and-coming young actresses Alexis Knapp as Stacie, a sexy new member of the group whose hobbies include cuticle care; Hana Mae Lee as Lilly, a shy new member with an almost inaudible speaking voice (it's possible she just whispered something about seeing a dead body) and surprising beat-boxing skills; and singer/songwriter Ester Dean as Cynthia Rose, a tough chick who is accidentally mistaken for a boy during the auditions.

Though she is new to acting, the filmmakers felt Dean's music background lent authenticity to the musical comedy. "Ester is an incredible songwriter," comments Moore. "She's written hit songs for Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, and she's an incredible performer in her own right. I wanted to make sure that we had some authentic musicianship in the movie."

Rounding out the cast as the ICCA commentators are comedic actor John Michael Higgins, known to audiences for his roles in Christopher Guest's films Best in Show and For Your Consideration, and actress/producer Elizabeth Banks, recently seen in the blockbuster The Hunger Games.

As Pitch Perfect was shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with locations including Louisiana State University, the filmmakers helped complete their cast with local students, including many extras from Tulane University.

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