When I first speak to Anne Hathaway, she immediately tells me to call her “Annie,” as if we’re old friends. But, of course, we aren’t. I’m a writer; she’s an A-list actress who has starred alongside Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. She has hosted the Oscars—oh, and she’s won one too. But still, I was told to call her Annie, so I do.
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I find myself thinking throughout the course of our conversation that it would be nice to be buddies with her though. After all, she’s warm and supersmart. She’s also self-aware and has equally brilliant comedic timing in person as when hosting Saturday Night Live. While she’s a very talented actress, none of this feels like an act. It’s evident Hathaway has grown into her own as she masters more roles than ever—not only as an actress, but also a wife and mother. The 36-year-old version of Hathaway is able to look back with honesty and forward with perspective and positivity.
There is a lot to be positive about. Last year, she earned rave reviews playing vapid actress Daphne Kluger in Ocean’s 8 alongside a powerhouse cast of female actresses, including Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett. The New Yorker called it a “career-high performance,” while Vanity Fair dubbed her the “crown jewel” of the movie. Spoiler alert: Hathaway ends up being the eighth member of the con-artist ring, a role she seems to be relishing once again in her new movie The Hustle. “Normally, I am so strict with myself and my choices, but these two really yummy opportunities and fun characters came across my path,” she says. “I thought, ‘OK, they are both con artists, but everyone can deal with it because I’m doing it.’”
The Hustle, which pairs Hathaway with the always-hilarious Rebel Wilson, is a femalecentric remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the classic starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. Debuting May 10, it’s an easy-to-digest good time with Hathaway holding her own next to the outrageous and unabashed Wilson. “It was really hard not to break in front of her,” Hathaway says of working with the Australian actress. “Rebel has this gift where she pulls comedy out of the air—I don’t know how else to describe it. She is quite reserved in real life, which I was surprised by. There’s an understated quality to her—she keeps herself like a coiled spring. When it comes time for comedy, it just all comes out. I had a stifled belly laugh every single day.”
In The Hustle, Hathaway plays a high-class scam artist who partners with the less sophisticated Wilson to cheat an array of shady men. “I thought I was signing up for a breezy job,” says Hathaway. “I thought I was going to show up, and Rebel was going to do the heavy lifting, and I was going to be the straight person and wear the fun outfits and have a few zingers here and there. But our director thought it would be funnier if my character had a British accent, so it became this high-wire act, and there was a lot more room for failure. I had to become very serious about the comedy.”
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As for those “fun outfits” on Hathaway’s character, they were the third star of the movie, each piece more fabulous than the next, showcasing designers such as the Mi Jong Lee and Balmain. “We had such fun with the outfits,” Hathaway says of collaborating with the film’s costume designer, Emma Fryer. “It was a creative exploration. [My character’s] job was to manipulate very basic men who have disappointingly simplistic ideas of what a woman is and what makes a woman attractive. When she dresses herself, she wants to dress as creatively, flamboyantly and fashion-forward as she can.”
In addition to The Hustle, Hathaway also has The Last Thing He Wanted coming out this fall, a film based on the Joan Didion novel of the same name. “The thing I knew going in was that Dee Rees was directing an adaptation of a Joan Didion novel,” she says. “I heard that, and I thought, ‘Whatever that is, I want to be there.’” The film will be released in theaters, as well as on Netflix. “Netflix stepped in to tell a grown-up, smart, uncompromising adult drama in exactly the way Dee Rees wanted to tell it,” Hathaway says. “I’m grateful because it puts less pressure on the movie to perform, and audiences can discover it in their own way.”
Recently, Hathaway had her own personal discovery: She decided she was not going to drink while her son, Jonathan, was in her and husband Adam Shulman’s home, which equates to approximately the next 18 years. When asked about it on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the media coverage was immediate and plentiful—a reaction that surprised Hathaway. “I didn’t put [a drink] down because my drinking was a problem; I put it down because the way I drink leads me to have hangovers and those were the problem,” says Hathaway, who resides outside New York with her family. “My last hangover lasted for five days. When I’m at a stage in my life where there is enough space for me to have a hangover, I’ll start drinking again, but that won’t be until my kid is out of the house. But, I just want to make this clear: Most people don’t have to do such an extreme thing. I don’t think drinking is bad. It’s just the way I do it—which I personally think is really fun and awesome—is just not the kind of fun and awesome that goes with having a child for me. But this isn’t a moralistic stance.”
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However, Hathaway will take a principled position when it comes to the pervasive shift she has seen in Hollywood recently, thanks to the Time’s Up movement, in which she has been active. “There are moments of seismic change, and I can’t imagine going back,” she says. “The people that get it really get it. The biggest obstacles at this point are people who claim to get it but haven’t done the work. I think it’s going to take everyone examining how much privilege they have and how it is being used and taking responsibility for creating equality. It’s going to take everyone.” For the actress, the movement and the changes to which it has led have enabled her to view the entertainment industry in a different way. “I’m so inspired by the collective voice and energy that’s happening right now,” she says. “I’m happy to look around and, where I feel I might have in the past been sort of brainwashed, to see women as competition; I now see sisterhood.”
For Hathaway, it turns out the sometimes all-too-bright spotlight has been both difficult and enlightening. “I’ve recently been on a streak where things are just starting to work, so I can share that with people, and they can take from it what resonates and ignore what doesn’t,” she says. “I am not some relentless self-improver, but I am trying to learn to live in the world with as little pain as possible.”
Photography by Brian Bowen Smith; Style by Law Roach; Hair by Adir Abergel at Starworks Group using Virtue; Makeup by Beau Nelson at The Wall Group using Dior