At only 24, Anna Kendrick is already an old pro. When she was barely 10 her parents were putting her on Greyhounds (with her older brother) bound for New York so she could audition on Broadway. At 12, she landed her first play. And at 14, she became the second youngest person ever to be nominated for a Tony award.

She didn't win, but nominations haven't stopped coming her way. There was the Independent Spirit Award nomination for 2004's 'Camp,' and then another, four years later, for 'Rocket Science.' And now her work in 'Up in the Air,' the latest film from Jason Reitman ('Juno,' 'Thank You For Smoking'), is generating Oscar buzz.

Did we mention (do we have to?) that Kendrick plays Jessica, pal to Kristin Stewart's Bella in the 'Twilight' saga? (One of the year's most popular movies? Check. Oscar nomination? A very likely check.) At only 24, Anna Kendrick is already an old pro. When she was barely 10 her parents were putting her on Greyhounds (with her older brother) bound for New York so she could audition on Broadway. At 12, she landed her first play. And at 14, she became the second youngest person ever to be nominated for a Tony award.

She didn't win, but nominations haven't stopped coming her way. There was the Independent Spirit Award nomination for 2004's 'Camp,' and then another, four years later, for 'Rocket Science.' And now her work in 'Up in the Air,' the latest film from Jason Reitman ('Juno,' 'Thank You For Smoking'), is generating Oscar buzz.

Did we mention (do we have to?) that Kendrick plays Jessica, pal to Kristin Stewart's Bella in the 'Twilight' saga? (One of the year's most popular movies? Check. Oscar nomination? A very likely check.)

Kendrick's got a pretty tight schedule these days (she just wrapped 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,' with Michael Cera, and is currently shooting the third 'Twilight' film, 'Eclipse'), so when she offered to talk to us on a flight to LA for an exclusive interview at 5,000 feet, we lugged our stuff to JFK, buckled our seat belts, and joined Kendrick's mile high club.

It must have sucked having to spend so much time with George Clooney.
[Laughs] He's great. We'd be sitting in the car on days where we were supposed to be not speaking to each other, and we'd turn on the radio between takes. [A very persistent flight attendant comes over and shoves a plate of little chocolates at Kendrick, who declines, nicely, twice; she laughs]. I lost my train of thought. Oh yeah, so the Detroit station was doing George Clooney trivia questions because they knew he was there, and in between takes I'd be trying to answer them and getting them all wrong.

You two have such nice chemistry on screen. Any plans to remake one of the classic buddy comedies?
That's a really good question. Wow. Of course the only buddy movies I can think of aren't really "buddy" movies, like 'His Girl Friday,' but that'd be cool.

In the movie you play a young upstart who swoops in and tries to tell George Clooney how to do his job. She's very ... severe.
Yeah. Natalie and I are both people who like to maintain a level of control. But I think being out of our element makes us react very differently. I tend to get progressively more awkward and fall apart more. And she sort of clings to her rigidity. And her physical appearance has a lot to do with that. Her posture and her voice and her hair and her wardrobe is all about clinging to a sense of order, and if she can get her ponytail a little bit tighter, maybe things won't feel like they're falling apart.

Did you have a plan for the way her physical appearance changes?
Yeah, she really starts to kind of break at the seams at a certain point and you can feel the breakdown coming. And that's where she starts to kind of lose it. I remember one hair being out of place as she started to fall apart and feeling very vulnerable as Natalie, and feeling so strange that I didn't look perfect.


Are there actresses that you look to for inspiration?
It's funny because I actually love actresses who look like they feel really natural. I like Patricia Clarkson, Laura Linney, Frances McDormand. Those are actresses where the second they show up on screen you're like, oh my gosh, this movie just got so much better. It's always a nice surprise when you go into a movie and you didn't realize that Patricia Clarkson's in it. And she just blows you away. I didn't realize she was in 'Lars and the real Girl,' and she just blows you out of the water. She could phone it in and still be incredible. She just brings something so unique to each role.

She's pretty fearless. Is there anything that you already know you'd never do, as an actress?
Huh. That's tough. I mean I guess the obvious answer there is "I wouldn't do nudity," but I feel like it's such a strange thing to say "never" to anything.

What about the flip side. Is there anything you're dying to do?
There will always be a part of me that wants to do a movie musical. I feel like you're doing yourself a disservice when you say something like that, because you never know if that thing is gonna come along and be right, but I'd be lying if I said that that wasn't true. I mean, I graduated from high school early so I could move to New York to do 'A Little Night Music' out of the New York City Opera.

You were nominated for a Tony for 'High Society' at 12. That must have been intense for a preteen.
I didn't fully understand the gravity of that. I certainly knew what it meant to a certain degree, but I think it's ultimately probably better that I couldn't really swallow the whole idea of it at that age, because I think it would have freaked me out. I knew it was a really big honor, but at 12 you just don't get what it means. I think my head might have exploded.

So does that mean you're really into showtunes?
Yeah, I mean, I think my iTunes is a kind of strange and embarrassing mix of show tunes and artists that I have no perception of whether or not they're huge or not, you know? I'm the kind of person who doesn't realize that The Arcade Fire is a big deal, but then I expect everybody to know Cocoon, and people tend to not know Cocoon...

I don't know Cocoon.
See?

Your career is really on fire. Do you feel like you're in control?
No. Never. Actually it's a very strange and confusing time. I understand what's going on, I'm just not sure how I ended up at the center of it. I feel utterly out of control. I feel like I'm at the mercy of everyone but myself.

There must be people you trust, though.
Yeah. Yeah. But it could be your own mother and you'd still be lke, "I wanna do what I wanna do." [We've begun our descent into Los Angeles, and the cabin pressure changes]. My ears are popping [laughs].

People are talking Oscar nomination for you in 'Up in the Air.'
It's weird. I'm getting increasingly embarrassed about people asking me about it. I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to respond. I'm really glad that people like it but you know, that's about all I can say about it. It seems a little surreal and bizarre, so I'm trying to block it out.

Well, why do you think you keep getting nominated for awards?
I don't know. I'm paying the right people, obviously!