Anne Hathaway on Getting Married

Posted on 01. Oct, 2008 by in Film/TV, Profiles

words by Brent Simon

It’s been four years since Anne Hathaway last 

sported a tiara, but the beaming, very proper good-girl image she established in large part through Ella Enchanted and two Princess Diaries movies still exists to some degree. That will change. This summer’s Get Smart shook things up for Hathaway, and in her new film, Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married, she plays Kym, a recovering addict who arrives like a hurricane at the Connecticut wedding of her older sister (Rosemarie Dewitt), with whom she shares a hot-cold relationship. 

Sitting for a chat at a Beverly Hills hotel on a recent Monday, Hathaway – wearing a designer T-shirt, jeans, and a clutch of bracelets that jangle when she gestures or pitches forward in laughter – confesses that she’s still in “weekend mode” though one wouldn’t know it from her unerringly pleasant demeanor and thoughtful answers.

h: I enjoyed the film, and was particularly struck by the fact that it doesn’t pause for any traditional dramatic navel-gazing… 

Anne Hathaway: (laughs deeply, falling over on sofa) I love that phrase, yeah! 

h: (laughs) I’m glad to have amused. But what it captured for me was how often family moments are incomplete, or interrupted, that there isn’t the one cathartic argument with a parent or sibling that resolves everything. You get into it, and then more often than not have those moments hijacked. 

AH: The thing that I love about the conflict in this movie is that I felt, even doing the scenes, I was on the side of whoever spoke last. Everyone’s always not totally right, and no one’s ever totally wrong, and that’s really good for the conflict in a story. 

h: A lot of folks are billing this as a big departure, but did Kym feel like a different role for you? 

AH: To be perfectly frank, I had no idea how strong this idea of me (being)connected to the perspective of the good girl and likeable character in a movie, the ingénue basically; I had no idea how strong that was. So when I took this role I just thought what a great opportunity as an actress, not what a great chance to shake up everyone’s perception of me. I’m like, is it different? I don’t consider my whole body of work whenever I take on a new movie, it’s just, ‘What’s the best story out there that I can tell right now?’ I think that love has a dark side as well, and I love that this movie explores it and doesn’t try to judge it; it never presupposes that love and darkness come at the exclusion of each other. I mean, I just think that’s life, and this movie is very open to that idea. 

h: You essentially had a year of preparation after agreeing to the role. What was that period like? 

AH: The first time I read the script I had a really strong instinct about who Kym was, and what she was like. The only thing I didn’t really know was why, so I spent that year figuring it out. So by the time it came to do the movie, my performance wasn’t that far off from how I first envisioned her, I just had a much stronger understanding of how she got there. 

h: The film is shot in a hand-held, very exploratory fashion. Did the mode of production make ownership of the character markedly different? 

AH: Just from a technical standpoint, it was less exhausting than most traditional filmmaking. The scene at the second NA meeting…we did that one time and had a few cameras on it, whereas if this had been another movie we would’ve had to do it 25 times, from different perspectives, and I would’ve been a fucking wreck by the end of it (pardon me for cursing.) So from that standpoint it affected it, but from another standpoint it really helped the characters listen to one another, because we never knew where the camera was going to be. You never wanted to be the one caught staring at someone else going, ‘God, you’re good.’ It just focused everything. Though you might think the chaos would make everyone nuts, but it actually ended up just making everything a lot simpler. 

h: Did you have any preconceived notions of Jonathan Demme, and how did those jibe with actually working with him? 

AH: I just felt really comfortable with him from the first moment I met him. I’m not [this] way so much anymore, because my experience with Jonathan has changed me, but at that point I could be really guarded with people, and I didn’t want to be that with him. I wanted to show him everything and let him decide how to interpret me, as opposed to me only showing him partial things and giving him a skewed, controlled or edited perspective of who I was. In our first meeting he said, “I don’t want you to hold back with this character, I don’t want you to inhibit yourself in any way. I basically don’t think you’ve been able to run as fast as you can in a movie and show everything you have. Please just show me what you’ve got and I’ll know what to do with it.” And to be 24 at that time and hear that from someone like him was amazing. 

h: Jonathan also has an interest in music, and he uses it in a really interesting and different way in this film. There’s a lot of source music – musicians cast as guests and playing live in the background…. 

AH: In the scene after the beauty parlor when I come in and [the family] is starting to fight, I didn’t want to disrespect Jonathan’s vision but the musicians were kind of driving me nuts. So I asked the first A.D.,
‘Hey, when you talked to Jonathan did you get a sense that the music really mattered to him here?’ So of course that gets translated as, “Annie doesn’t want the musicians,” and Jonathan says, “Well, if she doesn’t want them tell her to do something about it in the scene.” So I was like,
‘Oh, okay, that might work.’ (laughs) And it was great because on the first take no one told the musicians that they weren’t going to play. So (when Kym asks them to stop) it took like a full two minutes to get the message out to everyone that this was happening. And I knew that all wasn’t
going to wind up in the movie, but to have the reality of that unfold in real time, and capturing everything on camera – stuff like that
doesn’t happen on most movies, where everything is so plotted
out beforehand. And by the way, most scripts couldn’t be made
this way. This one was special. I shudder to think about other movies that I’ve worked on letting it be left so up to circumstance. It was a risk,
but God did it pay off.   

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