This is the best time in the life of Anne Hathaway. She‘s engaged to be married to actor boyfriend Adam Shulman and now she’s earning rave reviews for her performance as the sultry Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, a character she idolised as a child. The film marks the third and final chapter in the epic trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film is remarkable not merely for the rampant chemistry between Hathaway and Bale, but also for some memorable fight scenes where Hathaway stretches her form-fitting neoprene catsuit to the limit.
“It was better for my stress levels to focus on how I felt wearing the catsuit rather than how I looked in it,” explains Hathaway in reference to the ultra-sexy Catwoman costume. “Although I have to admit that I did train and adhere to a strict diet for ten months!”
Stepping into the high heels of Catwoman was both a risk and a potential career-shaping moment for Hathaway. The iconic character was first played by Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, and Eartha Kitt in the original 60s Batman TV series, before Michelle Pfeiffer redefined the role in Batman Returns (1992), directed by Tim Burton. (Let’s try to forget Halle Berry in the execrable 2004 Catwoman movie.)
Hathaway, however, delivers a striking performance as the feline femme fatale. Her Selina Kyle/Catwoman is a delicious anti-heroine who (in keeping with her comic book origins) oscillates between criminal psychopath and comrade of Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader.
Hathaway was recently seen in “One Day” and “Love and Other Drugs,” and previously played in “Rachel Getting Married,” the taut drama which earned her a Best Actress nomination in 2009, and “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006), her biggest box-office success to date.
In her peronal life, Hathaway is very much in love with her fiancé, Adam Shulman, best known for his work in the 2005 TV series American Dreams. Their relationship has helped Hathaway recover from her previous relationship with con man Raffaello Follieri, which ended in 2007. (Follieri was recently deported back to Italy after serving a 5-year prison sentence for fraud – ED).
In the interview that follows, the ever-radiant and charming Anne Hathaway offers some candid insights into her life and work. For our chat at a Beverly Hills hotel, Anne was looking very chic in her new short pixie hairstyle (she cut her hair for her role in the upcoming Les Miz film) and a white Dior dress.
Q: Anne, before we start, congratulations on your engagement to Adam Shulman…
HATHAWAY: Thank you!
Q: Are you planning on getting married this year?
HATHWAY: No. It’s not happening this year. I have too much going on so it’s going to have to be next year.
Q: This is definitely a big year for you, though. Could you ever have imagined playing Catwoman when you were growing up?
HATHAWAY: This is really a dream come true. I recall doing interviews for The Princess Diaries and reporters asked me whether as a child I dreamed of being a Princess and instead of giving the standard answer, “Well, of course,” I was actually dying to say, “To tell you the truth, I dreamed of being Catwoman!” So playing this part is the coolest and most amazing thing that could have happened to me. It’s almost too good to be true.
Q: What was your approach to the dual role of Selina Kyle aka Catwoman?
HATHAWAY: What I loved about how Christopher Nolan had structured the story was that the emphasis and focus was on her identity as Selina. She didn’t have this schizoid personality, she didn’t change when she put on the catsuit. She saw it as her uniform which she wore on the job and it was an extension of her.
I also loved being able to play with Catwoman’s sense of humour and irony. She has this incredibly devious and sly nature and you can’t get a fix on who she really is or which side of the fence she’s going to come down on.
Q: What was your impression when you saw the finished film?
HATHAWAY: It’s so epic and beautiful. Christopher Nolan has crafted this operatic drama and Christian (Bale) and Tom (Hardy – who plays Bane, the villain) were so wonderful and generous on the set.
Q: How hard was it for you to train to get in shape for the catsuit?
HATHWAY: It was more a case of needing to train to be able to execute all the stunts than worrying about how I looked in the suit. I’m as vain as any actress but my main concern was being able to do all the moves and look as convincing and menacing as possible. Overall, I trained for ten months and went on a restricted diet to be ready to play the part. Even during the shooting, I was so hungry I would go over to and stand next to Tom (Hardy) while he was eating his muffin and ask him if I could smell it. (Laughs)
Of course, I knew that I had to make sure I lived up to an ideal vision and all the expectations that audiences would have for how I looked in the suit. So that was something that definitely weighed on me until we started filming. I knew how much time I needed to spend in the gym and I set myself a goal and had a trainer and a stuntwoman help me reach that level that I wanted to get to for the role.
Q: Has it been intimidating to step into the heels of such an iconic character like Catwoman?
HATHAWAY: I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a ton of pressure. There were a lot of expectations and I tried to enjoy it as much possible. I was playing a great character and it was very well written. I feel very fortunate that this part was available at the right age for me and at the right point in my career.
Q: How did you feel about working with Christopher Nolan who is known for his very stylistic films?
HATHAWAY: He’s very inspiring and his vision takes you to another level as a performer. Chris is the kind of director whom you respect and trust so much that it makes you much more confident in being able to really throw yourself and let yourself go in the role. That was very reassuring to me because you know that if you don’t succeed in this kind of role it’s not going to be very pleasant to deal with the fallout.
The thing that’s most wonderful about Chris is that he’s the most successful filmmaker in Hollywood – yet his movies aren’t Hollywood. It feels like you’re making an indie. He’s actually a really alternative filmmaker. He just happens to have a seven-billion-dollar budget!
Q: Do you feel that this kind of film and your upcoming role in Les Miz will have an enormous impact on your future as an actress?
HATHAWAY: I hope so! My last few films haven’t done very well so I’m hopeful that people will be drawn to this film and to Les Miz.
What’s incredible is that both films are classics in their own right. Les Miz is a pretty iconic role for me, too, and I’m grateful that both Christopher Nolan and Tom Hooper gave me the freedom to put my own mark on each of the characters.
I’m also happy that Michelle Pfeiffer who I loved as Catwoman has been very supportive of me because you want to believe that you’re defining your own take on the character and doing justice to it and in a way honouring the performances of actresses like Michelle who played the role before it was my turn.
Q: What is it like doing fight sequences in high heels?
HATHAWAY: (Laughs) You learn to own those high heels like any woman does! I had already done extensive training for that when I did Devil Wears Prada where I was running up and down Manhattan. The only difference this time is that now I was running up and down Gotham, although in this film the heels also serve as weapons! (Laughs)
Q: Your new short haircut – that was for your part in Les Miz, wasn’t it?
HATHAWAY: Yes. I’m happy with it now but when I first cut my hair off it was pretty traumatic and it felt like jumping off a building. I didn’t think it would turn out to be such a huge event for me and it was actually my idea to cut my hair because that’s what my character, Fantine, does in the story. But once I actually had it cut, I was really upset and I was crying for a few days about it. I think most women go through some sort of minor crisis when they cut their hair very short. You get used to it though. It’s so easy to get ready in the morning. Guys have it really easy! (Laughs)
Q: Can you talk about your other big film, Les Miz, and what that means to you?
HATHAWAY: That was also a dream come true and a huge challenge. It’s a very hard role because you go from a place where her heart is very open and then her world falls apart.
The most stressful aspect of playing Fantine was doing the iconic song, “I Dreamed a Dream,” which everyone knows from the stage version. So you need to prepare yourself mentally to sing it without referencing or imitating other versions of that song. You have to make it your own as if you had never heard it sung before, which of course is very difficult.
Another ironic thing is that Les Miz was a major part of my childhood. When I was a kid, my mom played Fantine and toured the country with Les Miz. So I’m honouring my mother in a sense by being part of this film and taking on the role.
Q: Over the last few years, you’ve played in some very romantic and personal kinds of films. Are you the kind of incurable romantic who loves a great love story?
HATHAWAY: I love the idea of getting to explore relationships that develop over time. Too many movies give you the impression that you can find your soul mate over lunch or that in the end it all works out so easily. Life isn’t necessarily like that. But I’m drawn to romantic stories. I think women become more confident as we get older and we become happier.
You learn to present yourself in a more authentic way in life. I used to put out this very open, super-cool vibe and not show how scared I am when I would first get involved with someone. You don’t ever want to look like you’re trying to hard and I know I do sometimes. 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, f—-up self. I don’t try to hide behind some façade that isn’t me…
Q: Do you feel you’ve matured a lot in the last few years?
HATHAWAY: 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. Now I feel like I can be more forgiving of myself and not be as self-critical or self-conscious. /Viva Press