Most of you reading this article are probably desperate to get your eyes on the feature film adaptation of the cult musical The Last Five Years, to fall in and out of love with stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan and to hear those high-belting, heartbreaking songs again. But hang on—the film isn't set for release just yet, but producers did host a VIP screening and cocktail reception on February 24 at the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center for potential buyers and theater insiders. Naturally, Broadway.com was on hand to cheer on the finished film (no really, you're gonna die!) and to talk the pitch-perfect stars, songwriter/musical theater god Jason Robert Brown and acclaimed writer/director Richard LaGravenese about their favorite things about your next favorite movie.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT JEREMY
Anna Kendrick: “Oh man, he’s such a sweetheart. He’s such a nice guy, like such a sweet Texas boy but then there are little moments when he has a wicked sense of humor that you don’t see coming so my favorite thing is when he kind of busts out something, like a dirty joke or something. That’s nice.”
FAVORITE THING ABOUT ANNA
Jeremy Jordan: “The fact that she’s never too serious. That’s probably her favorite thing about her, too! She’s always very cautious not to let things get too heavy and that’s a great sort of energy to deflate whatever tension might be hanging around. And she’s always good for a laugh so I love that about her, too.”
FAVORITE DAY ON THE SET
Anna Kendrick: “The day that we shot ‘Summer in Ohio’ with the dancers. That was really, really fun because there’s such an amazing work ethic in all the dancers I’ve ever worked with. We were giving each other as much energy as we could and kept saying ‘Beyonce, Beyonce, Beyonce’ as a mantra to keep going and work harder.”
Jeremy Jordan: “There are some not favorite days on the set, like the day I had to drive the car [for ‘I Can Do Better Than That”]. It was this old, ratty, messed-up car and I had to drive it on the freeway with a camera in the back seat. They were trying to lead me with a couple of other cars and somebody went the wrong way and the two cars split and I got stuck, trapped between two barriers in the middle of the highway. I’m trying to back out but I can’t see out the rearview because there’s a camera there but I’m trying and I totally wrecked the bumper. That was the worst day. The best day? There were so many great days. The best in terms of emotionally as an actor was probably when we did ‘If I Didn’t Believe In You.’ Because we did that all in one shot. We did it like 14 times and I was just exhausted by the end, but it was very gratifying.”
Richard LaGravenese: "I wouldn't say it was my favorite day, but the most memorable day I'll ever have in my life as a director was the day we shot 'Goodbye Until Tomorrow' because my mother passed away the night before. It was a really emotional, kind of beautiful experience because she's the reason I love musical theater. The most fun was when we did 'Summer in Ohio,' doing the dance number and doing a Busby Berkeley thing with the camera crane."
Jason Robert Brown: “I was only on the set for two days, but one of them happened to be my birthday. It was the day they were shooting the beginning of ‘Goodbye Until Tomorrow.’ There’s still something so unexpected and vaguely surreal about watching people sing things that I wrote anywhere in the world, but especially with all these camera people and lights... and there’s a movie star and she’s singing songs of mine to this big star... It’s heady! Broadway shows I’m used to, but movies? I had no experience with that at all. It was a head trip.”
FAVORITE SCENE IN THE FILM
Anna Kendrick: “Oh man, it’s so hard. I mean, basically there’s so much of my damned face in this movie that I’m just relieved when it’s one of the songs that’s just Jeremy, so maybe ‘Nobody Needs to Know’ just because it’s a break from looking at my own mug!”
Jeremy Jordan: “’The Schmuel Song.’ Which is surprising because that was the one we were most scared about. In the first draft, it was an animated sequence. They just couldn’t figure out how to make it work on film. As we started rehearsing it, we got even more nervous that Jamie putting on a show for Cathy was going to be too theatrical. But a couple of days after we filmed it, Richard [LaGravenese] saw a cut of the scene and was just in tears. It’s turned into this wonderful moment.”
Richard LaGravenese: "'Schmuel' and 'If I Didn't Believe In You.' 'Schmuel' was the toughest. It wasn't until I figured out it wasn't about the lyrics, but why Jamie was singing it to Cathy. It's the one time you see how much he loves her and how much he's trying to get her to be who she is. And I'm very proud of 'If I Didn't Believe In You.' We had two actors and my camera man and I said, 'We're going to do this all in one take so just go wherever you want and we'll follow you.' And all of the sudden it became a Cassavetes movie that was sung and we captured this moment."
Jason Robert Brown: “It might be ‘I Can Do Better Than That.’ But it’s hard. There’s a lot of really wonderful stuff that goes on. ‘If I Didn’t Believe In You’ is pretty amazing also. What can I tell you? I’m talking about my own songs! It’s all pretty cool.”
FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE STARS
Richard LaGravenese: "They both felt and understood this material and these characters so it was on their skin. All they had to do was perform it and it was really beautiful. I am so proud of them and how hard they worked. They did anything that was required of them. We all came up with ideas. They were collaborators, not just actors. We were all filmmakers."
Jason Robert Brown: “They are both very alive and very real in these parts. When you watch Anna and Jeremy, it seems like I wrote it for them. People will see the movie and say, ‘Oh, that’s what it’s supposed to be.’ And you watch the movie and think, ‘Well, that IS what it’s supposed to be!’ I didn’t expect that, honestly. I thought this would be another variation on the theme and instead it turns out the force of their performance is so great that it just sort of steamrolls the future."