At the end of Pitch Perfect 3, the newest and last movie in the blockbuster trilogy, there's a sequence of photos and videos depicting the cast's antics off-screen. From sleepovers to pool parties to jokey hazing rituals in the woods, the images are a sweet ode to the deep bonds the series' stars have formed in the six years since the first movie began filming. It's the kind of adorable tribute that'd warm the heart of even the most stoic viewer — that is, unless you're Brittany Snow, one of the Pitch Perfect movies' biggest stars.
"I hate it," Snow deadpans, relaxing on the couch after a shoot at Bustle's New York studio. But a moment later, the 31-year-old actor and singer cracks a big smile. "I mean, I’m saying that facetiously, because I cry every single time I see that. It’s like looking at a moving yearbook of your life."
Life may be an exaggeration, but adulthood, yes. Snow was just 24 when she first signed on to play Chloe Beale, the kind, affectionate co-leader of a cappella champions, The Barden Bellas. In the years since, the actor and her castmates have developed the kind of rapport their characters share in the movies, hanging out after work, throwing each other parties (Rebel Wilson and Ruby Rose recently helped Hailee Steinfeld celebrate her 21st birthday), and, in the case of Anna Camp and Skylar Astin, getting married. Snow, for her part, has lived with co-star Kelley Jakle since the duo met on the set of Pitch Perfect; the sisterhood of the Bellas, it seems, is alive and well outside the franchise.
Which, Snow says, made saying goodbye basically impossible. "That ending scene in the finale is compiled of many emotions," she explains. "It’s a chapter of all of our lives ending, it’s a culmination of all these personal things that we’ve been through together, and really the celebration and the bittersweetness that we all feel towards each other, knowing that we’ve been through so much together."
In Pitch Perfect 3, out Dec. 22, the Bellas experience their own share of mixed emotions, reuniting as a team for the first time since most of them graduated college. Without a cappella, they've found themselves floundering in the months since school, stuck in unfulfilling jobs and questionable living situations and badly missing their friends. Minus the music, it's a situation that'll feel painfully familiar to many 20-somethings, those who enter the post-college world and "assume that things are going to look a certain way or that you’re going to fit right in to a new tribe or a new job," says Snow.
When the Bellas get back together for a competition (what else?), it's like no time has passed at all; Becca (Anna Kendrick) is still acting as the face of the group, Fat Amy (Wilson) is still cracking one-liners, and Snow's Chloe is still confidently befriending everyone in sight, no matter how odd she might come off. "That’s always really fun to play — the awkwardness, and the unapologetic aspect of how much she owns how quirky and weird she is," Snow says with a grin.
Unlike the previous two movies, Pitch Perfect 3 sees Chloe with a love interest, a fact that thrilled Snow, primarily for how much improv she got to do during the duo's interactions. "All of my cool pick up lines, pretty much everything I say to him, is how I talk to men," the actor says with a laugh, joking, "That’s probably why things haven’t gone so well."
While the franchise has used improv before, Snow says that this time around, the cast was given more freedom than ever to play with the script. That was an easier task for some actors than others; "Rebel," Snow says, was a clear pro, coming from a comedy background where "she has everything already in her mind before she says it... she’s consistent and she knows what works." Snow was less experienced, but judging by Chloe's hilariously weird lines in the film, she held her own just fine.
Snow considers herself a lot like her character; like Chloe, she is "the person that forefronts the bonding and the parties," the actor says, adding that she happily took charge of planning the celebrations that bookended the movie's production. And, similar to Chloe, Snow is confident, clearly at ease with herself and the state of her career. But that wasn't always the case; as a teenager starring on TV shows like Guiding Light and American Dreams, Snow struggled with eating disorders and self-harm, culminating in a hospital stay at age 19; even in recovery, she's said, it took years for her to feel comfortable again in her body, let alone display it on-camera for audiences.
"When I was 25 and I got Pitch Perfect, I had taken a few years off of acting, and Pitch Perfect was really my first leap back into acting and knowing if I could do it," Snow says now. "And these girls really helped me with my confidence and knowing who I was in terms of what I wanted to do with my career."
"I’ve become a really confident person and actor, and it’s a really cool thing to know that these women have been a support system to catapult me into something else," she continues. Like Chloe, Snow clearly values her sisterhood; her social media is filled with #MeToo posts and shout-outs to the women in her life, especially those in Pitch Perfect. When I bring up comments Kendrick made to Harper's Bazaar earlier this winter about her frustration with being told to wear "tighter and sexier" costumes on set, Snow grins with pride.
"It’s a really cool and interesting thing to see that there’s such a supportive, feminist understanding of this movie, and yet at the same time, we can call out something like that," Snow says. "Kendrick can say, you know what, I don’t think that it’s necessarily appropriate that I need to look sexy in this scene. I think 10 years ago, maybe that wasn’t the case."
Snow's Pitch Perfect world clearly means, well, the world to her, and so it's no surprise that while there are no current plans for a fourth movie — Pitch Perfect 3 is being marketed as the last in the series, and the film certainly feel like a finale — Snow, like many of her co-stars, felt hesitant to truly consider it the end when filming began. "With this one, we heard it was the last one and we knew that going in," she explains, but "it’s always been a bit odd, because we don’t ever know if it’s going to be the last one, nor do we know if it’s going to continue. Even with the first one, we had no idea going into it that it was going to be a franchise."
Now, though, with the movie hitting theaters, Snow is coming to terms with the series likely no longer being as big a part of her life as it once was. But when she talks about that prospect, there's no fear in her voice, just optimism. "It’s exciting to see what we will be able to... do as a group of friends, but without these movies," the actor says. "It’s not scary, because that would mean that I’m not excited, and I am excited about what’s to come."
There are a few projects in both the acting and music worlds on the horizon, but mostly, Snow is focused on her foundation, Love is Louder. Launched in 2010 by the actor and the Jed Foundation, the group supports those struggling with bullying, mental illness, and other issues close to Snow's heart. Recently, she and a partner began a production company aimed at telling stories about these subjects. "These movies and these TV shows," Snow says, "don’t necessarily have to be Lifetime movie of the week, Hallmark things, where it’s seen in such a sappy way. It can be a slice of life, and we can bring light to that."
The next movies and shows that Snow puts out into the world will probably look a lot different than Pitch Perfect — but if the actor has her way, they'll likely contain just as much heart.