Pitch Perfect 2: Reuniting Cast, Adding New Members

Bellas Before Fellas: The Cast Reunites

All of the Bellas are back for Pitch Perfect 2, and they’re led by their fearless leader, Beca, once again played by the multitalented Anna Kendrick.  The actress appreciated that Beca has moved from a wide-eyed freshman to a more polished senior.  She agrees with her producers that the singers had to be taken down a peg so they could show us who they truly are—both vocally and personally—and get back up again.  Kendrick reflects: “The Bellas have gone a little too far.  They went for an original sound by the end of the first movie, and this time around it’s good…but it’s a lot.  There’s too much showmanship and sound, so this movie is about them thinking they need to push it even further, when they actually need to strip back down and find themselves again.”

It wouldn’t be Pitch Perfect without the one and only Patricia, more affectionately known as Fat Amy.  With her signature dry humor, Rebel Wilson discusses just what brought her back for the second chapter: “When I heard about it, I was like, ‘Do I get to have a solo in this one?’ And then I found out I did, so I was totally in.  Then I asked, ‘Do I get to have a naked shower scene in this one?’  When they said, ‘Yes,’ I told them, ‘You don’t even have to pay me then.  I’ll just do this movie for free.’” Jokes aside, Wilson appreciates that her character has a love story in this chapter.  “You get a bit more in-depth with Fat Amy and what she’s going to do when she graduates…as well as how that affects her.”

No stranger to odd shower scenes in a Pitch Perfect film, Brittany Snow returns as Chloe, the seventh-year senior who is having a hard time saying goodbye.  The performer shares a bit about where we find her character: “Chloe is so passionate about singing in the Bellas that she’s chosen to stay and intentionally fail a lot of her classes.  So she’s even crazier than the first time, and she’s very passionate, which leads to a lot of mayhem because she’s extremely overzealous when it comes to singing.  She’s even weirder than before, which is fun for me to play.”

Snow appreciates that her colleagues once again brought their A game.  Discussing Wilson, she laughs: “Rebel is full of surprises, and there’s a calmness about her that’s fun to watch.  She’s very confident in who Fat Amy is and knows what’s funny.  I love seeing her in the trailer before a scene, when she gets still with her jokes and knows what she’s about to do.  Then when she gets on set, all hell breaks loose.  She is very collaborative with all of us and wants to help us out with our jokes.”

The Bellas’ sultriest member, Stacie, is once again played by Alexis Knapp.  The actress muses: “For Stacie, not much has changed, except her hair color.  It is three years later, so everyone’s matured, and she’s not as wild…in certain ways.”

Knapp appreciates that her director has been such a champion of the sequel and found her to be an inspiration on set.  She says: “I love that women are becoming more empowered and paving the road by having more females directing.  That’s inspiring to younger girls that you don’t have to just be on camera to be in this industry; you can be the boss, too.  We need more strong women, and Elizabeth is a fine example of that.”

Without a doubt, the Bellas’ quirkiest member is Lilly, known for softly uttering non sequiturs at every turn.  For her part, Hana Mae Lee has embraced how much joy the character has brought to audiences.  She reflects: “I love Lilly.  She’s funny and quiet, but she’s never shy.  I think a lot of people thought, ‘Oh, she’s cute but weird.’  What I like about her is that the audience still hasn’t figured her out 100 percent, because there are always new things going on with her.  She’s a character that I would always wonder what she is thinking when she isn’t speaking.  Even though her lines are pretty out there, deep down Lilly is pretty grounded.  She’s also super expressive with her wardrobe choices, every pattern and print is definitely thought through.  She is so trill.”

The actress appreciated that sense of diversity among the girls, noting: “We don’t have any characters in the Bellas that are similar.  Everyone has a different personality, a different look and style, and that is what creates a great sound and a mosaic of beauty.  Once it’s voiced and it’s clearly put together, it becomes beautiful.”

Ester Dean, who plays the no-nonsense Cynthia Rose, discusses the transformation for all of her fellow thespians: “In Pitch Perfect, we were becoming friends and getting to know each other.  We were going through the shock of learning the dances and singing a cappella, and we just did our job as we were working.  This time, we are friends acting together.  I’ve never felt so connected to them as I do now.”

Rounding out the core cast of graduating senior Bellas are Kelley Jakle and Shelley Regner, who play, respectively, Jessica and Ashley.  Both extremely talented vocalists, Jakle was part of the multiple ICCA-winning SoCal VoCals, while Regner is a distinguished, talented performer in her own right, having appeared alongside Jakle at Carnegie Hall, and currently co-starring on the live sketch-comedy show “TMI Hollywood.”

Although one of our favorite Bellas, Aubrey, played by Anna Camp, has graduated, as all the girls know: once a Bella, always a Bella.  Now the program director at a corporate boot camp, Aubrey is most definitely her father’s daughter and steps in to whip the Bellas into shape after they’ve lost their way…and their sound.  The actress discusses a bit about one of her favorite scenes to shoot: “We have an a cappella boot camp at the Lodge of Fallen Leaves, and the girls are being worked very hard.  At the camp, we’ve done some water sliding, zip lining, the teepee shuffle—which is a fun exercise on a log—and we’ve also done a mud pit.  They’ve been put through the ringer, and I’m very proud of them.”

The Bellas aren’t the only stars at Barden who have returned to campus.  Beca’s boyfriend, the ever-optimistic Jesse, is supportive of her dreams to become a music producer.  Played by Skylar Astin, Jesse wants Beca to know that there will be life after college and her time with the Bellas.  Astin shares that Beca and Jesse’s relationship grounds the film’s comedy: “The story is hilarious and offers big physical elements that make it that way, but what also made the first one so great were those grounding elements.  You have very real people who have both romance and problems.  Jesse and Beca bring a nice balance to the real stakes of this world.”

Jesse’s former Treblemaker—and the love of Fat Amy’s young life—Bumper, might have graduated, but he just can’t leave his undergraduate university (or his crush) behind.  Adam Devine explains where his character has been: “I was singing backup for John Mayer, and I’m a true talent, but evidently there was some beef there…and some clashing over whether or not I stole his leather bracelets.  Bumper is now part of the Tone Hangers, the crew of old dudes in the first movie who Bumper just hated.”

Devine and Wilson actually collaborated on the first season of his hit show, Workaholics, before they filmed Pitch Perfect.  Their improv set the tone for the rest of the cast.  Says the actor: “It’s fun improvising with people with comedic backgrounds because they’re able not to freeze up if you don’t say the exact lines.”  There were many takes on set, and that was just fine with Devine.  He offers: “Kay wrote such a great script that is so quick-witted.  The jokes just hit you and come at you so fast and so hot that it’s an unforgettable moviegoing experience.”

Long gone are the days when Jesse’s best friend, Benji, was an awkward freshman.  Now, he’s an awkward senior.  Returning in the role is trained singer Ben Platt, who speaks for the cast when he takes a step back to see what the Pitch Perfect cultural phenomenon is all about: “I don’t think any of us expected it, which is why it’s been all the sweeter.  We just loved it as this little theater-camp movie that we all got to do together, and now you walk down the street and everybody knows Pitch Perfect, Fat Amy and a cappella.”

The performer advises where we find the guys: “Benji and Jesse are the heads of the Treblemakers.  They’ve taken the reins and it’s a new group of guys, although they’ve stayed more like a regular a cappella group.  The Bellas have skyrocketed into this global phenomenon, and now that Benji’s in the group and that dream has been realized, his new obsession is Emily.  She’s this freshman who’s quirky like he is.  He immediately falls for her and spends the entire movie trying to win her over.”

Last, but certainly not least, of the returning cast are John Michael Higgins as John Smith and Elizabeth Banks as Gail Abernathy-McKadden-Feinberger, lead commentators of the ICCAs.  Of the colorful characters, Higgins shares: “John and Gail have a podcast called ‘Let’s Talk-Appella,’ and they are the play-by-play commentators for these competitions.  What’s odd is that we don’t know anything about them.  That’s for a good reason, because it’s such a strange—and pointless—job that they have.  It’s a job that doesn’t need to be done, a solution in search of a problem.  The comic part comes because my character is an unenlightened person.  He’s a misogynist, a racist and all those things that we’re scared of.”

As was the rest of the cast, Higgins was proud to see his co-star and producer tackle directing duties for Pitch Perfect 2.  He commends: “I can’t imagine handing the reins over to a better person than Liz.  She has great bedside manner and knows this material and how to tell this story better than anybody.  That’s what you need to be a director.  She’s incredibly confident, intelligent and a great actress.  I’ll work with her any time she wants to direct anything, or to act, again.”

For her part, Banks loved rejoining her former co-star for some of the comedy’s most outrageous scenes.  Commenting on the duo, she laughs: “With John and Gail back saying inappropriate things, who knows what’s going to happen between the two of them?”  When asked what it’s like to give direction to herself in character, she channels Gail, deadpanning: “What’s funny about directing myself is that I am my favorite actress…so it’s pretty easy.”