WITH leading roles in Pitch Perfect, Into The Woods and new film The Last Five Years, Anna Kendrick has become the go-to actress for musicals.

She tells Keeley Bolger about school-day setbacks, adjusting to fame and working with Meryl Streep

Anna Kendrick seems to be everywhere right now.

She's in the sequel to Pitch Perfect, gory indie flick The Voices and, of course, her new musical The Last Five Years. She also performed her heart out at this year's Oscars ceremony, and regularly finds her pithy tweets about popular culture going viral.

It feels like the Portland-born actress is having a 'moment' - and a moment made all the sweeter given her talents haven't always been encouraged.

"My drama coach at school absolutely loathed me," says the petite 29-year-old with a shrug.

"She put me in our school production of 42nd Street, but that was it. And she only did that because I was the only person at school who knew how to tap dance, but truly, [it was] begrudgingly done."

Regardless of what that "bitter old woman" thought, at the age of 12, Kendrick scored a Tony Award nod for her performance as Dinah in a Broadway production of High Society, making her the second youngest person to ever be nominated.

She garnered a new fan base for her role as Jessica in the Twilight series, and went on to play ambitious graduate Natalie in 2009 drama Up In The Air (earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the process).

Her latest role as Cathy in The Last Five Years, sees her playing a struggling actress, whose marriage to talented novelist Jamie is falling apart.

Told almost entirely through song, the film also stars stage actor Jeremy Jordan as Jamie.

"This film is near and dear to my heart," Kendrick explains.

"It's a very small story, it's about a marriage that's falling apart and the music is so incredible. You see them falling in love and out of love. It's funny and heart-wrenching and beautiful. We had so much fun making it."

Hitting the high notes is second nature to the actress.

"As a child, you don't stand in front of a mirror and perform Lady Macbeth's monologue, so I guess I did more of the hairbrush singing than running around performing plays," she says.

And she's the first to admit she was a precocious child.

"I was very dramatic," she confesses with a smile. "My brother and I liked to perform pranks on my parents. This mostly meant screaming from the next room, which we just thought was hilarious," she adds (her older brother Michael appeared in 2000 drama Looking For An Echo).

"Our parents would come in terrified, and we would say, 'Drama!', because that was our understanding of 'just kidding'. Just acting, just pretending - just drama!"

Although she and her brother were diva-ish in their youth, and showbiz is rife with prima donnas, Kendrick was pleased at how much her Into The Woods co-star Meryl Streep bucked this trend, and she says it's easy to see why people treasure Streep as much as they do.

"There's a reason. And it's not just her talent - it could be actually, it could be just how good she is - but I think the reason is because she's such a kind and warm person," Kendrick explains. "She would have every right to be a cold diva of the highest order, and instead, she just wants to hang out and shoot the breeze.

"I think it's amazing she's maintained that in face of the gift she has inside her."

While it's a given that Streep, with her 40 years in the spotlight, is widely recognised, Kendrick too became somewhat of the celebrity during the Twilight years.

"The thing is that really, the only people who stop you, generally speaking, are young girls, they're just the most vocal fan base," she explains.

"That began with Twilight and hasn't stopped since Pitch Perfect [another musical], so it feels about the same.

"In terms of my more adult fan base, they're generally pretty cool and don't say anything. Occasionally, a friend will be like, 'This is really creepy but everybody in this restaurant is looking at you', but I don't notice, because they look away when I glance over, so it feels exactly the same, except for occasionally a 14-year-old girl loses her mind, and that's very sweet."

In her spare time, Kendrick says she loves nothing more than baking and reading baking blogs, but she's had little time for either lately with her hectic work schedule, filming comedies Mr Right and Get A Job, drama The Accountant and lending her voice to the lead character Poppy in animated movie Trolls.

She's keen to keep pushing herself in new directions, even if they are initially unfamiliar ones.

"As Cinderella [in Into The Woods], I was playing someone soft and open and vulnerable, which is something I'm less comfortable doing than just sort of shouting at people," says the actress, who admits her "big" singing voice usually means she plays "sassy and bratty" characters.

And if that means being tongue-tied when talking about her latest roles, even better.

"Honestly, to me, the most exciting thing is when someone asks me what a film's about and I can't explain it in one sentence," Kendrick reasons. "I find it really intriguing when it takes you a minute to explain what's unique about it.

"I'm not sure if that will help me or hurt me in the long run, because that means taking risks, and sometimes they don't pay off. But it's still the most exciting bit to me."

The Last Five Years is in cinemas now