Anne Hathaway’s latest role in Interstellar takes her to outer space, but these days the Oscar winner is more grounded than ever.
It’s time to stop hating Anne Hathaway. Yes, she’s overly earnest. Yes, she still suffers from the vestiges of being a “pleaser,” whose first instinct is to behave in such a way as to make people like her, rather than simply being herself. But that’s hardly just cause to be dismissive of a very talented, pleasant, and refreshingly honest Oscar-winning actress trying to find some love from a skeptical public, commonly known as the “Hatha-haters.” Finally, Anne Hathaway has discovered that it’s OK to be Anne Hathaway.
“You don’t ever want to look like you’re trying too hard; and I know I do sometimes,” Hathaway says. “But then I figured out that I don’t have to put on an act and I can still be appreciated just for who I am in my own awkward, contradictory, messed-up self. I don’t try to hide behind some façade that isn’t me.”
Hathaway, 32, grew up in Millburn and caught the acting bug from her mother Kate, a well-known stage performer. By the time she was 10, Hathaway was starring in local productions at the Paper Mill Playhouse and in high school she was nominated for its Rising Star Award, an honor reserved for outstanding performers in high school musicals across New Jersey.
Though she grew up in the northern part of the state, the actress is certainly no stranger to South Jersey, specifically the Cape May area where she has been visiting since she was a child. The star has been frequently spotted around town, lounging poolside at celebrity hotspot Congress Hall or dining at The Lobster House. There are some lucky folks who still talk about the night she walked into a local establishment and gripped the microphone for an impromptu karaoke session. And her mother turns up in Cape May Stage productions from time to time. Hathaway even considered having her wedding in town before ultimately deciding on the California coast instead.
In an interview with The Stir from earlier this year, Hathaway shared why the Shore town is so near and dear to her heart:
“I go to Cape May, New Jersey with my family; and it’s really special. My grandmother fell in love with it when my mom was about 5. And so my mom spent all of her summers there and has friendships there from when she was 5, and then they grew up together and had kids.
“And then, when I was a kid, I met them and so now I have lifelong friendships. And my mom’s siblings, my aunts and my uncles, they always go down. And now they have kids who have kids. And so, we’re just a tribe down in Cape May, and it’s just so wonderful. And we ride our bikes around and we have barbecues.
“I always try to make it there for at least a few days every year just to kind of reconnect with family. And I’ve gotten to go on some pretty sweet vacations in my life, but that one for family, that’s a place that really feels like home.”
These days Hathaway lives in New York with her husband, actor Adam Shulman. They’ve maintained a very low profile as a couple and she has confessed to having become very secure in their relationship: “The first year of my marriage was insane. So much happened so fast, and we didn’t get to focus on just being married until about a year in. So now, it’s just about letting myself feel safe. … There was a part of me that I was keeping in reserve, and when I got married, something shifted. … That question of, ‘How long’s this gonna last?’ is off the table. And when you’re not worried about that, there’s space to just be silly.”
Hathaway’s new film, Interstellar, an epic sci-fi drama directed by Christopher Nolan, sees her play Amelia Brand, a biologist/space explorer part of a mission to find an inhabitable planet to preserve the human race. Leading the expedition is Cooper, a spaceship pilot played by Matthew McConaughey with his typical, down-to-earth gusto, alongside other notable cast members Jessica Chastain, John Lithgow, Topher Grace, and Michael Caine.
Nolan hired Hathaway for the role of Brand after having worked with her on The Dark Knight Rises in which she played Catwoman. Said Nolan: “(Brand) is a very interesting female role. Anne seemed absolutely perfect for it.”
Hathaway sat down to discuss travelling through space with McConaughey, how winning an Oscar hasn’t changed her and why she challenges herself by taking on different types of roles.
Anne, are you excited about your work in Interstellar?
Every day on the set was a mind-blowing experience. ... I’m so lucky to be working with Chris (Nolan) again. I loved working with him on The Dark Knight Rises, and when I read the script for Interstellar I was amazed. It was such an incredible story that I wondered how he was going to be able to pull it off. Then you think, “Oh, it’s Chris Nolan. He just will.”
From what I can gather, Interstellar is about the end of the human race.
I am going to quote our director. “Every generation has believed they would be the last one, and every generation has been wrong.” (Laughs.)
Well, in case it is the end, we all need to procreate. Are you looking forward to becoming a mother?
Oh yeah, I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was 16, but I also wanted to have a career, (laughter) so I have been chomping at the bit to be a mom for a really long time. I also had to find a baby daddy first (laughter.)
Which you now have.
Which I now have! (laughs) But I’d rather talk about something else.
Did you ever want to be an astronaut?
I did want to be an astronaut when I was a kid but I didn’t have the grades for it. Math is not my bag and so I am happy to continue acting, and that seems to be going OK. And honestly, the suits are quite claustrophobic and I just decided to make friends with my suit on the first day. I put it on and thought, ‘I have decided that it’s going to be great.’ (Laughter) But there was one day where it got a little hairy and I almost passed out in it just doing the stuff, because on Gravity, they were able to put the suits on the actors afterwards, but we had real, practical suits and we were doing a lot of the stuff that we had to do on lifts (laughs.)
You play opposite Matthew McConaughey. What’s it like working with him?
Matthew’s just a very easy guy to be around. He’s very inspiring as a human being, and he takes real delight in life. He approaches things from a place of deep respect and deep joy, and I just had the best time working with him.
I always loved him before, you know—he’s Matthew McConaughey, he’s a fun time! But my respect for him deepened so much, and now I really look up to him. I kind of look at him like a big brother.
The details of a Chris Nolan movie are always very secretive, but you’ve experienced that before on Batman, right?
(Laughs) Yes. After I screen tested for Batman, I thought I would take the script pages home from the audition as a souvenir. I got a call a couple of hours later, and I was like, ‘Oh my God maybe it went really well!’ But then it was, ‘Oh, you want the pages back?’ (laughter) And so someone came to my hotel and got them and I was like ‘Hey, bye! Any other news?’ (laughs). And I thought, ‘OK. He’s not making eye contact, is that good? Is that bad?’
How was it winning the Oscar for Les Misérables? Did it change your life?
I am so proud of my Oscar; and I felt so honored; and it was really cool to have my work that validated, but it was a difficult moment and I mean, I think everybody knows that. So I didn’t really want to think about it when it was done because I felt very confused during that moment. It’s a beautiful thing. But in terms of my life, I don’t think it’s necessarily had as big an impact on my life as you might think, not my life certainly. I think I just tried to get through it, appreciate the beauty of it, and then in a way forget about it.
Where do you keep it?
Honestly, when I first had it I put it in a place where I didn’t want to see it every day, it wasn’t on the bottom shelf, but it was on the shelf just above that, and I am putting it higher and higher and higher, (laughter) and I am starting to own it more. And I am starting to see the wonderful essence that experience taught me, and I am owning that.
After winning the award, you took a little break from Hollywood. Did you need that?
I needed a break. And I think it’s good to step out of the limelight for a while. It’s never fun to put yourself out there and have it be received in a way that’s less than positive. I still remember that within a few days of hosting the Oscars, I was in the slums of Nairobi. It’s pretty hard to feel bad about getting bad reviews when you’re talking to 14-year-old girls who have two children each.
You’ve been acting since your teens. Is it just as much fun now as it was when you were starting out?
It’s different now, because you’re trying to find new elements to your personality and new ways of exploring characters. I know that for me, acting is a way of revealing myself and getting in touch with sides of myself that I would otherwise be reluctant to know. Acting makes me very vulnerable and once you go through that process you feel much stronger afterwards and there’s definitely a therapeutic side to that.
I also love being able to create a performance and make an audience feel that they understand your character and maybe something about me, too.
You’ve worked in very different kinds of roles during your career ranging from a romantic comedy like The Devil Wears Prada to a musical like Les Miserables and to a big action film like The Dark Knight Rises. Is that a deliberate career strategy?
I love finding roles that are completely different from what I did last. I think the best part of this job is being able to go from one world to another. I want to work with people who inspire me. You can’t go for what you think will have mass appeal or you will fall on your face. I also love small indie films. There have been ones where I thought they will only have a niche audience, and everyone asks me about them.
Do you feel you’ve matured a lot over your time in Hollywood and dealing with all the ups and downs of the business and being a celebrity?
In one sense, I grew up very fast and was very competitive and determined to succeed in this business. But when you push yourself that way, you also keep yourself from evolving in other ways on a personal level. So you learn to stop being so driven and become more aware of yourself and your own needs that have nothing to do with your career. That’s the kind of evolution I’ve gone through and things feel much easier and freer now. I don’t work on things as much as simply enjoying them.
How has your husband helped you since your time together?
I fell in love with a keeper, so I kept him. He was smart enough to know I still had a lot of demons to battle and gave me my own time and space.
You ruined Homeland for a lot of people. Your parody of Claire Danes on Saturday Night Live was so hysterical.
I’m sorry. OK, I have to say something, that show is so good, no one can ruin Homeland (laughter.) That show is brilliant. I actually hadn’t watched it before I did that. They told me that there was a Homeland sketch, so when I did it at the table read, I didn’t know what I was doing, and then I started to do some research, and the show is brilliant. Claire is a genius, like astonishing, and no wonder she’s won all those awards (laughs.)
You’re a very spontaneous and natural person. What do you do that helps you in life to be so spontaneous?
I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it. I am just kind of myself. I just try to tell the truth and not take anything for granted, and be very grateful for everything that I have and be very present.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 8 (November, 2014).
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