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Female First (May 19, 2009)

ANNE HATHAWAY Q&A
Interview taken by FemaleFirst.com
Anne Hathaway, 26, stars alongside Kate Hudson in the comedy Bride Wars. Hathaway plays Emma, a school teacher who falls out with her best friend, Liv (Hudson) when their eagerly anticipated weddings are scheduled for exactly the same time on the same day at their dream venue, The Plaza Hotel in New York. As the day quickly approaches, each tries to scupper the other’s plans for a perfect wedding day.
It looks like it but was Bride Wars fun to make?
Yes it was but it was a difficult film to make as well. We had a short shooting schedule and had to pack a lot of filming into about two months. But there were certain scenes I would find myself in the middle of where Kate and I would just be yelling at each other about something ridiculous like who gets what wedding date and who was going to move hers, and the absurdity of it always made me laugh. And then of course at the end, when the war has gotten out of control and we physically confront each other, that part was so much fun to shoot.
Is that the scene when you have the fight when you are both in full bridal gowns?
Yes. When I got to that part of the script reading it for the first time, I burst out laughing because I had a vision of a cackling Kate Hudson in a wedding dress. You know each of us dressed in white, and there’s something a little punk rock about that I like girls behaving badly in wedding dresses.
Was that scene hard to do?
Well, we only had a certain amount of time in each location. That scene we filmed at around 3.30 in the morning. It was fine though. You know, I never let myself really think about how I feel when I’m doing scenes. I always try and focus on my characters because if I stopped to think about how I felt about it for two seconds I’d probably get scared and go home (laughs).
But with that one I remember feeling very lucky to be there. I know that sounds funny but female buddy comedies don’t get made very often and to have such a fun physical cat fight with a great girl like Kate captured on screen forever, well, I remember feeling very lucky.
One of my other favourite scenes is when you go orange in the tanning booth.
Yes, that was memorable! Kate has made me orange and so I retaliate by making her hair blue (laughs). I was excited about that because I don’t really have much beauty baggage I try to look however the character should always look. But one thing I can’t do anything about is the fact that my skin is very pale, so to get to make fun of that in a movie was great. And it works in the whole war.
But the makeup required, however, was not fun and it took an hour to put it on and then a lot of scrubbing and scrubbing in the shower to try to get it off again. I don’t want to think about how much water I wasted and sometimes I would scrub so hard I would reveal bone only joking. But it was just awful.
What was it like when you walked down 5th Avenue like that?
Walking down 5th Avenue a shade of bright orange was one of the most surreal moments of my life (laughs). We did that shoot a la Tootsie and the camera was hidden and so people just thought I was walking down the street completely orange. The cell phone cameras were coming out all around me
and I did feel like a bit of a freak but it’s all for art, I guess (laughs).
Did you really just walk down there among the public?
Yes, I just walked down the street. There were a few extras who basically walked in a circle around me so that we could do the shot. But for the main part we just had to put up a sign that said ‘hey, hope you like being in a movie, because you’re in one!’
Another memorable scene is when you dance, drunkenly, at the bachelorette party. Was that liberating?
It seemed that for my character that whatever was liberating for her was deeply, deeply humiliating for me! (laughs). It was actually fun to get up there and go ‘alright, this is how I dance drunkenly’ and know that it was going out in there in the world!
It was fun though to get up there and do that because it’s not something that I would ever let myself do and it’s certainly not something that would occur to me to do in front of so many people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an angel and I get a little crazy with my friends sometimes but I usually keep it contained. So to be out there in such a public way was new to me.
Do you think that the film has something to say apart from the comedy? Like the striving for perfection on a wedding day can get out of control andis beside the real point?
Yes, I think so and another concept that appealed to me was that my character Emma has spent her entire life dreaming about what kind of bride she is going to be. She had always imagined her wedding but had never stopped to think ‘what type of woman am I going to be?’
Emma has been very passive in her life and I thought that was an interesting difference, that she felt in some ways allowed to let her imagination go when it had to do with a single day but when it had to do with the rest of her life she wouldn’t allow herself to go there.
The movie is also about friendship and how you can lose sight of one of the most important relationships you can have…that of a best friend.
Yes, that’s right. Kate and I would sit around discussing things with Gary and we would talk about the script and our characters’ development and we kept saying ‘why are they better because of the war? What is it about the fight that makes them better?’ And we finally realized that they were such good friends that they filled in each other’s gaps. You know, I give Liv a heart; she gives Emma a spine and we had to separate in order to develop those parts of ourselves, which happens through the device of their ‘war.’
But at the end of the day, they realize that their relationship is so meaningful that for each of them not to be there for the other on their big wedding days would just detract from that.
Do you buy into that ideal of a perfect, big wedding day?
I understand the appeal for a big day but I’ve had a lot of big days in my life so I would be kind of greedy to imagine that right now so I never really have let myself go there. My attitude is that I think you should find the boy first and if he and I want to get hitched then we’ll come up with something together but I imagine it would be on a smaller scale.
I understand why a lot of girls want it to be their day but I’m much more of a sharer. I’d like it to be ‘our’ day. Like with my parents: they got married in the church and then everyone went back to their apartment and they picked up beer and a plate of cold cuts on the way home and had a blast.
Nothing against that whole big day thing but if you don’t do it that way I don’t think you are necessarily missing out on anything. That being said, should I ever get married one day I think my mother is going to go crazy and it will probably be more her wedding than mine! (laughs).
Did you know Kate? Were you friends before you made this film together?
We’d met socially. We have a mutual friend and Kate had come over to a dinner that I had at my home, so we met then and got along very well. When the offer came in to do Bride Wars I knew Kate and I would get along. Then we sat down and talked about the script and we realized that we would have a great working relationship as well.
It is essential that the audience believe in the depth of your friendship.
Absolutely. And it was really fun getting to explore the depth of emotion that comes with female friendships because for better or worse, usually a movie that stars a woman usually has to star a man also or if it’s a girl at the center of it she has a quirky best friend, a man, who has his own separate storyline and comes in and says funny things. That’s not bad, it’s just that it is a ‘formula.’
But to actually get to explore a deeper level of emotion between two female characters in a movie was something new for me and I was pleasantly shocked when we would have these moments in a scene where we would just have to look at each other and it would feel so meaningful.
I was like ‘oh my God, this is what my life is like, this is what my female friendships are like..’ and I just felt really lucky to portray that. But it did need to feel real and it did need to feel deep in order for it to work and in order for the audience to believe that these girls matter more to each other than just about anyone else on the planet.
Do you have friendships like that in your own life?
Thank God I have, yes, and I don’t know what I would do without them. My cousin is a couple of years older than I am and we’ve been inseparable since the day I was born basically. And it’s a great friendship.
She just came over this past weekend. She had been invited to her boss’s birthday party and came over to raid my wardrobe and we found the perfect dress for her. We were listening to music and danced around and had a blast. We’ve been doing that since we were about four years old.
Did you make Bride Wars straight after Rachel Getting Married?
I finished Rachel Getting Married kind of early November (2007) and then I went into production on Bride Wars in April but there was a lot of script work that needed to be done between the two, so I basically started on Bride Wars in January.
There is quite a contrast between the two films but presumably that was the appeal?
Yes, that was intentional (laughs). In some ways Rachel Getting Married was such a predominantly perfect experience that I needed to go off and work on something that I couldn’t possibly compare it to.
How do you cope with all the Oscar buzz that is going on about your performance in Rachel Getting Married?
Well, I’m trying to remember that there is nothing real to focus on yet. It’s a lovely compliment and it’s lovely to feel that people are anticipating good things for you, that people are cheering for you, but I have to look around at where I actually am, and where I actually am is a wonderful place I’ve been nominated for a Golden Globe and the Independent Spirit Award and I also just got the National Board of Review and I’m so pleased all of them that I don’t think I could be any happier. I just have to keep telling myself that it really shouldn’t get better and that all of this is more than enough.
You’ve worked with many great actresses but two stand out – Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) and Debra Winger on Rachel Getting Married. What did you take away from working with them?
Well, each woman is an enormously powerful actress and an enormously powerful woman. Meryl breathes (laughs) and I know that sounds like a silly thing to say but she is at the center of every moment and she has so much going on and is so specific and yet she herself is so loose in her approach. I saw a lot of that in Debra as well.
With both of them they don’t leave anything up to chance but they are nonetheless completely spontaneous. Every take with them every time was like doing a play. I didn’t know what was coming at me and I could do nothing but leave myself open to react and as a result I was made so much better getting to work with each of them.
You’ve also been working with Tim Burton too on Alice In Wonderland. Did that go well?
I’m happy to say that it did. I have a small part in the movie; in fact, I only worked about nine days on it but it was a lovely, surreal dream come true.
Did you read the book when you were a child?
Actually, I think my grandmother got it for me when I was a child and it didn’t really resonate with me at the time but then I re-read it when I was 19 and it really meant a lot to me. Suddenly, I became aware of its brilliant subtext.
You play the White Queen and I would imagine the costumes are fabulous..
Oh exquisite! That was one of the most amazing parts of the whole experience, getting to go into Tim’s craft shop and getting to meet all the craftsmen who have worked with him for years and who have interpreted Tim Burton’s aesthetic and given it to the world.
I’m one of Tim Burton’s biggest fans and what I respond to visually is very Burtonesque so to all of a sudden be around these heroes of mine who have basically shaped my own personal aesthetic was pretty great.
Your mother was an actress. Is that where it came from with you do you think?
I don’t know. I like to think I would have wanted to do it regardless but I will say that having a mom who was an actress and a dad who chose to marry an actress definitely put me in an household where artistic expression was encouraged.
It was nothing to get up in the middle of a meal and run over to a doorframe and pretend like it was a stage and perform a song. There was always music in the household; we were always taken to see theatre and we were taken to museums. It was definitely an artistic environment so I think that was hugely influential.
You grew up in New Jersey. What was that like?
It was very suburban and I played a lot of sports. There’s a local theatre that is actually quite prestigious and I took acting classes there when I was a kid and, you know, I would hang out with my friends. There wasn’t anything really noteworthy about it in the good or the bad sense. It was just very pleasant.
Do you like doing comedy?
I think I do (laughs) I’m still at that place in my career where I’m just so excited to get a job that it doesn’t occur to me what I like versus what I have to work really hard at and to be honest, I have to work really hard at everything.
But I’m having fun unravelling comedy. I’m having a good time trying to remember what I’ve observed from other people and from my own experiences, what holds you back, what propels you forward.
Was Gary Winick, the director of Bride Wars, a good collaborator?
Oh absolutely. Gary should get so much credit because he was the only male on the set for miles really (laughs) and there were obviously a lot of very strong, very opinionated women around him. I think the way he got through it was by being collaborative.
He made sure that he had the movie in his head but that we were always on track, and he gave us the freedom to talk through what we felt needed to happen. He gave us the freedom to explore different beats, different feelings. Sometimes we would play a scene three different ways just because he was so excited by the prospect of editing the movie together.
When you feel that you can bring so many different parts of your imagination to someone and they will be able to keep track of it and edit into a wonderful film,it gives you enormous confidence. And on top of that, he’s just a spectacular man.
Did you actually film much in The Plaza Hotel itself?
We did film the end scene in the Plaza but a lot of the other stuff was doubled.
Have you anything else lined up or is it a case of taking a break and seeing what comes up?
Well, I would love to work but it seems that I’m taking a break right now because I can’t find any work to be had or any work that will have me (laughs). So I’m basically facing unemployment.
I’ve got a feeling that the phone is going to ring.
I hope so! You know it’s a bit of a tough time in America and no one really knows what’s coming next. I’m not immune to that.
I guess that insecurity is in the DNA of all actors.
Oh my God, absolutely. Every time a job is finished I think, ‘well, enjoy it, because it might never happen again.’
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I read, I hang out with friends, I love to go horseback riding, I travel, I dream, I write a bit. I keep my life very, very quiet and it’s lovely when it’s calm.
And where’s home for you?
I’m based out of New York where I’m forever re-decorating my apartment. I love it there. I work in LA and have a lovely group of friends there who I’m lucky enough to be able to tap into when I’m spending extended amounts of time on the west coast but whenever I have a break, New York is where I go.
My parents don’t live in New Jersey anymore but when I was growing up as a Jersey girl I always dreamed about being an artist living in Manhattan. I’m not running away from that dream for anything.
And is a New York a good place to live in terms of your celebrity? Do the people leave you alone there?
It’s the coolest it’s going to be there, which is not to say it’s perfect. It used to not intrude in the slightest but now it’s changed a bit. When people in New York come up to give you a compliment, I find that it’s quite genuine and if they don’t have anything to say to you they leave you alone.
I’ve reached the stage where I do get stared at a fair bit but I’m not necessarily interrupted. Los Angeles is different. I got chased down the freeway for two hours by a pack of paparazzi the other day so it’s become downright unpleasant out there but at least in New York I can move around and get lost.