Interview By: Andrea Tuccillo
Anne Hathaway possesses big glistening brown eyes and a toothy girl-next-door smile bright enough to rival Julia Roberts‘. She’s a breath of fresh air in the ever-expanding crop of young starlets. Hathaway proves to be incredibly articulate, poised and funnyâ€”she mentions more than a few times that laughing seems to make life a whole lot better.
Hathaway definitely has lots to smile about these days. After scoring a critically acclaimed adult role in last year’s Brokeback Mountain playing sassy rodeo queen turned embittered businesswoman, Lureen, Hathaway is proving she’s more than the teen-princess roles that have defined her thus far in films like The Princess Diaries.
This month’s The Devil Wears Prada, based on the best-selling book by Lauren Weisberger, pits her against Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep as the devilishly demanding fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly. Hathaway plays Andrea Sachs, an aspiring journalist who takes a job as Miranda’s assistant and must put up with her boss’ ice-cold demeanor and ridiculous orders. Andrea does reap the benefits of the job’s perks, however, as the fashion-disaster morphs into a bonafide fashionista by film’s end.
Hathaway may have channeled a bit of past experiences into her character. Dealing with a demanding boss was a problem for Hathaway when she was employed as a babysitter prior to her acting careerâ€”but at that time, her boss was three years old.
“I wasn’t her regular babysitter so I didn’t know what she liked and she didn’t want any of my suggestions but she wouldn’t tell me what she wanted,” explains Hathaway. “She was kind of like Miranda Priestly in that way.”
The intimidating experience of working with Streep might have also helped in Hathaway’s portrayal of the timid Andy. Especially since Streep stated fairly isolated throughout the shoot so as not to loose the mindset of her character.
“Everyday we had a roundup of ‘how I embarrassed myself in front of Meryl
“It’s not that she’s method and would make me get her coffee or things like that,” she says. “It’s just that she’s an incredibly disciplined and focused actress so she always made sure that the character came first before fun.”
Although some may claim that Miranda Priestly was based on Vogue’s infamous editor Anna Wintour, the movie is not meant to belittle the fashion industry or poke fun in any way.
“I think the film is asking us not to smirk at this industry,” Hathaway explains. “I think it’s asking us to see it for what it is. It’s not asking us to love it, it’s not asking us to worship it. It’s asking us to just kind of have an insider’s glimpse at it.”
Adds Hathway, “We weren’t looking to make a parody of anything. We don’t have anything against the fashion industry but if we’re going to make a movie about it we wanted it to be as truthful as possible and as believable as possible.”
In the movie, Andrea finds herself in the very real situation of trying to balance her job with her friends and family. She starts to realize that no career is worth throwing away the things most important in life. Hathaway has been able to avoid the dilemma of her character in her own life by allowing herself to wisely take a step back when things start to become overwhelming.
“I actually took a year off from acting because I was frightened at how little I knew myself and how I didn’t know my priorities and how that might lead me to a place where I could have regrets,” says Hathaway. “I took some time off and really got to know myself so now I’m at a place where I know where my lines are and it doesn’t even become a question. It doesn’t become difficult because it’s just me and it’s just what I have to stand by.”
“I’ve worked with people and I’ve known people that were really competitive but I’ve always said that I take an Elizabeth Bennett philosophy of lifeâ€”I laugh. I love my job but if it means hurting someone I won’t do it.”
She knows what she will never do in terms of her job, but she also knows exactly what she does want to do. Breaking free from her comfort zone is her main objective.
“Basically my philosophy in acting is to make sure there’s at least one element that scares the absolute bejesus out of me,” she says. “And I try to do the complete opposite of the last thing I did just so I can grow as an actress I stayed in my comfort zone for a long time and I know how detrimental to growth that is. It’s always important to be on the verge of terror. Meryl Streep was that element in this film!
Sure, Meryl Streep is fantastic, but the real star of this film? The clothes, of course!
“I had two favorite pieces in The Devil Wears Prada,” says Hathaway. “One was the Chanel boots and the other one was the Galliano gown that I got to wear at the event, which was just divine, there is really no other word. From the second I saw it I knew I wanted it. I started salivating.”
Who says you can’t be smart and still appreciate a good pair of shoes?