Copyright ©2010 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

TERRY GROSS, Host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest, Anne Hathaway, is best known for her roles in "The Devil Wears Prada," as Meryl Streep's assistant at a fashion magazine; "Rachel Getting Married," as a young woman who gets out rehab for a few days to attend her sister's wedding; "Brokeback Mountain," in which she played Jake Gyllenhaal's wife, who doesn't realize her husband is in love with a man; and "The Princess Diaries," in which she played a teenager who finds out she's a princess.

Now Hathaway is co-starring with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new film "Love and Other Drugs," directed by Ed Zwick. Gyllenhaal plays a pharmaceutical company rep who tries to get samples to doctors to encourage them to prescribe those drugs. He meets Hathaway in a doctor's office, where she's seeking a prescription refill. She has Stage 1 Parkinson's.

They're attracted to each other, but he's a real ladies' man who doesn't want a committed relationship, and she's afraid to have a relationship because of the medical burden it would eventually place on her partner. Here they are in a restaurant on their first date.

ANNE HATHAWAY: (As Maggie Murdock) What's your game?

JAKE GYLLENHAAL: (As Jamie Randall) My game?

HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) (Unintelligible). This is the part where we talk about where we come from and what we majored in in college.

GYLLENHAAL: (As Jamie) You have beautiful eyes.

HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) That's it? That's the best you got?

GYLLENHAAL: (As Jamie) I'm serious. They're beautiful.

HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) Well, let's go.

GYLLENHAAL: (As Jamie) Excuse me?

HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) Well, you want to close, right? You want to get laid?

GYLLENHAAL: (As Jamie) Now?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) Oh right, right, right. I'm supposed to act like I don't know if it's right. So then you tell me that there is no right or wrong, it's just the moment. And then I tell you that I can't while actually signaling to you that I can, which you don't need because you're not really listening because this isn't about connection for you. This isn't even about sex for you. This is about finding an hour or two of release from the pain of being you. And that's fine with me, see, because, well, I want the exact same thing.

GROSS: That's my guest Anne Hathaway with Jake Gyllenhaal in a scene from the new movie "Love and Other Drugs." Anne Hathaway, welcome to FRESH AIR.

HATHAWAY: Thank you so much, Terry.

GROSS: So your character and Jake Gyllenhaal's character are both very reluctant, for their own reasons, to commit to a real relationship, to allow themselves to fall in love. But they're both very sexual people, and there's a lot of sexual encounters in the movie in which you're both, you know, naked. So what are some of the things you need to know about what will be asked of you and what the environment will be like before saying yes to being in that position as an actress?

HATHAWAY: Well, I wanted to just get to know Ed a bit, to figure out who he was and where he was coming from. I mean, I didn't - based on his other films, I didn't imagine him to be an exploitative director. But, you know, you just want to spend time with someone to find out where they're coming from, what their perspective is.

And it's funny because when the film was done, I went over and I had dinner at Ed's house. And I showed up and once I saw what his home life was like, I thought, oh, why didn't we just start here? I would have trusted you right off the bat.

So I had to build trust with Ed, and once we did - we had the trust built, then we explored what it would be like. And it was a real exercise in trust. You know, oftentimes, when you're doing nudity, you get lawyers involved, agents, managers...

GROSS: Why? What do they do?

HATHAWAY: Oh, they negotiate the shots. The director submits a shot list, and you look over them for approval. And a lot of times, if an actor feels the shot demands a lot of them, they'll demand money for it.

GROSS: Oh, extra money for the nudity?

HATHAWAY: Extra money for the nudity, which makes me uncomfortable. So I don't do that. But...

GROSS: So did you have lawyers and all that getting involved?

HATHAWAY: No, no, actually we went the opposite route. We began to approach it from that standpoint, and Jake and I called each other and decided that we didn't want to go that route, that we wanted to put our trust in Ed. We said to him: shoot it the way you think it ought to be shot and give us final cut over the scenes, and let's just trust each other.

We made the stakes equal for both parties. And so what you see in the film is what Ed was comfortable shooting and what Jake and I were comfortable revealing.

GROSS: Did you screen the shots before approving them?

HATHAWAY: Yes.

GROSS: And did you reject anything?

HATHAWAY: I did, I did. I cut probably a total of about five seconds out of the nude scenes, no particular - I didn't cut whole scenes but just shots that I felt went on a little bit too long. Maybe it was just me being sensitive to it, but I thought that for whatever reason, I thought the camera lingered a little bit. And Ed had no problems just taking them out.

GROSS: One question I would ask if I was in your shoes, which of course I would never be, is: Is the room going to be really warm if I'm taking off all my clothes?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: You're so funny. You're absolutely right. It was something after the first day. I thought: can we do something about this? Because we were in a not-very-well-insulated former limousine car park that had been transformed into a studio in Pittsburgh. And insulation wasn't, I think, high on the list of priorities in the construction of this particular place.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: So we had a lot of hot water bottles, a lot of warmies. Yeah, that's a funny perspective. It's true.

GROSS: So when you see a nude scene now, do you look at it differently? Are there technical things that you're looking for that you wouldn't necessarily have noticed before?

HATHAWAY: Not really, no. I think what I look for is: Are the actors invested in it? Do they seem uncomfortable? Do they look like they're self-conscious about what they're doing?

And someone whose work I return to, or two people, actually, whose work I return to a lot in preparation for this film to just remind myself that it could be done were - was the work of Kate Winslett and the work of Penelope Cruz, two amazing actresses, two of my favorite actresses, my heroes, who have done nudity with a tremendous amount of sensitivity and dignity within their own careers. So I knew it was possible.

GROSS: Do you ever ask yourself, like: Why do we need to do this as actors and actresses? Why should that even be necessary?

HATHAWAY: No, I actually ask myself: Why do we have to talk about it? You know, why is this an issue? Why do people become fixated on this issue? I mean, I don't know about you, but I was naked in the shower this morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: You know, I don't wear a bathing suit in the bathtub.

GROSS: I don't know about you, but I was alone when I was in the shower.

HATHAWAY: I was alone in the shower, as well. Nudity is a part of life and, you know, you try to capture life in film, at least I do, and so I wasn't too hung up about that.

GROSS: My guest is Anne Hathaway. She's starring with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new movie "Love and Other Drugs."

Now, let's talk about another film that you did with Jake Gyllenhaal, and that's "Brokeback Mountain." And just for - in case there's anybody out there who doesn't know this film, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger played two men who realize that they are in love with each other, but they're afraid to come out. So they build these other lives, and you become Jake Gyllenhaal's wife.

And I want to play a scene. Ennis, the Heath Ledger character, calls you after getting back a postcard that he'd sent to Jack, and the postcard was marked deceased. So Heath Ledger's character wants to know, like, what's going on. So he called you, and you tell him the story of what happened and how Jack died.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN")

HATHAWAY: (As Lureen Newsome) I wanted to let you know what happened, but I wasn't sure about your name or address. Jack kept his friends' addresses in his head.

HEATH LEDGER: (As Ennis Del Mar) That's why I'm calling is to see what happened.

HATHAWAY: (As Lureen) Oh, yeah. Jack was pumping up a flat on the truck out on the back road when the tire blew up. The rim of the tire slammed into his face, broke his nose and jaw and knocked him unconscious on his back. By the time somebody had come along, he'd drowned in his own blood. He was only 39 years old. Hello? Hello? Hello?

LEDGER: (As Ennis) Was he buried down there?

HATHAWAY: (As Lureen) He put a stone up. He was cremated, like he wanted. Half his ashes was interred here. The rest I sent up with his folks. He used to say he wanted his ashes scattered on Brokeback Mountain, but I wasn't sure where that was.

I thought Brokeback Mountain might be around where he grew up. Knowing Jack, it might be some pretend place where bluebirds sing and there's a whiskey spring.

GROSS: Of course, Brokeback Mountain is the place where the Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal characters fall in love. So that was my guest Anne Hathaway with Heath Ledger, in a scene from Brokeback Mountain.

In that scene, as you are explaining how Jack died, we're seeing, for a few seconds, another story. You're saying he died while fixing a flat, and what we're seeing is him being the victim of a gay-bashing, where he's beaten to death.

HATHAWAY: Yes.

GROSS: And it's very ambiguous in the movie. What are we seeing? Are we seeing what you know to be the truth of what happened, but you don't want to go to that truth? Are we seeing what Heath Ledger's character is imagining what happened? What are we seeing? Do you know?

HATHAWAY: I don't. I don't know. I never asked Ang. I played it both ways, and those takes got merged in the final film. So I don't actually know.

GROSS: What do you mean you played it both ways?

HATHAWAY: I played it as though I knew what was going on with Jake's character Jack and that he'd been cheating on me with men and that I knew about the gay bashing. And I also played it as though I had no idea that this is how my husband died. You know, it was a terrible accident with a car tire. So actually, I don't really know which one wound up in the film.

GROSS: Now, does it bother you that you didn't know? Do you think, like, you ought to know, like, what your character knows?

HATHAWAY: No. Well, I did know within each take. But I'm an actor who believes that film is a director's medium. And I got along so well with Ang Lee I think partially because I showed up and I said: What color do you need me to be today in your painting? I mean, I was so happy to serve him and his story and his vision. So I just, I would just do anything he told me to do.

So Ang knows the truth in his head, and it's not important to me. I actually think I get to be a part of the film as an audience member because I don't know, because I think the ambiguity is what is the strength of that scene and what's heartbreaking about it.

GROSS: I should mention, this is maybe a good place to talk about it, that your brother is gay, and he got married in Canada. And I read that your family left the Catholic Church when your brother came out because the Catholic Church is so, like, anti-homosexual.

So was it a hard decision or just like a no-brainer to leave the church when your brother came out?

HATHAWAY: Well, it wasn't really like we had a family discussion about it. We didn't sit around the dinner table and say, okay, this is the decisive action we're going to take now. It was more something we realized we'd all done as individuals, and then it became something that we'd done as a family.

And gosh, was it difficult? You know, when it's family and someone is excluding your family, and someone is not accepting of your family, it does become a bit of a no-brainer, doesn't it?

GROSS: So was it hard for you to leave the church? Was the church important to you before?

HATHAWAY: Faith is important to me. You know, being raised with one faith and having to go out into the unknown and try to cobble together another, that was hard. But I wasn't really leaving something because I realized I couldn't have faith in this religion that would exclude anyone, particularly my brother, for the way he's born and for loving someone. I mean, how do you exclude someone for love? That seems to be the antithesis of what religion's about.

And by the way, you know, I mean to Catholic Church-bash. I do understand that for a lot of people, the religion provides a lot of peace and direction. But I don't know, if they could be accepting of women and of gays, I think that the religion gets a lot of things right.

But for me, I couldn't lose myself in it. I couldn't look to it for guidance because it's - like I said, I don't believe in this aspect.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Anne Hathaway. She stars with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new movie "Love and Other Drugs." Let's take a short break here and then we'll talk some more. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GROSS: My guest is Anne Hathaway, and she's starring in the new movie "Love and Other Drugs."

Now let me ask you about a role that I think was - it was a pretty breakthrough role for you. I guess you've had several breakthrough roles.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: But the one I'm thinking of here is in "Rachel Getting Married," which was directed by Jonathan Demme.

HATHAWAY: The wonderful Jonathan Demme.

GROSS: Yeah, and in this, you play the sister of Rachel, and Rachel's getting married. You get out of rehab for a few days to attend the wedding. And so you've been in rehab for drug addiction. And you're very troubled. You're very angry. And we found out later in the movie why you're so angry at your mother.

But, you know, here you're angry at your sister. She's getting married. So she's radiant, and you're in such trouble. So I'm going to play a scene here where you give - this is the rehearsal dinner, and you're giving the toast. But somehow, the toast ends up being all about you.

And as we listen to this, imagine what we actually see in the movie, which is the camera scanning the faces of the family and friends and the bride and groom-to-be, whose facial expressions get more and more pained as your toast goes on. Here we go.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RACHEL GETTING MARRIED")

HATHAWAY: (As Kym Buchanan) (Unintelligible). Relax, it's seltzer.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: (As Kym) Hello, I'm Shiva the Destroyer, and your harbinger of doom for this evening. I would like to thank you all for coming and welcome you, even though I haven't seen most of you since my latest stretch in the big house.

But you all look fabulous. So during the 20 minutes or so that I was not in the hole for making a shiv out of my toothbrush, I actually did participate in the infamous 12-step program. Twelve steps. Step, ball, change, step, ball, change. Still waiting for the change part.

So, but, you know, as they say that relapse is an almost always inevitable part of recovery. So I get high marks in that mode. Anywho, I - well, as more of you know than are likely to admit, one of the steps, actual steps, is about making amends.

So I did a lot of apologizing to people, some of whom barely remembered me, most of whom barely remembered anything. And I apologized for, you know, like, bouncing a check or passing out in their bathtub or flooding their house and, you know, just basically for involving them in sordid activities that they were desperately trying to forget.

I had to call this one girl, who was, I think 14, but she couldn't come to the phone actually because her mom had taken out a restraining order. But...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: (As Kym) But anyway...

GROSS: That's my guest, Anne Hathaway, in a scene from "Rachel Getting Married." There is so much self-consciousness, self-hatred and anger in that scene. What did you do to prepare to play this character and to prepare specifically for that scene?

HATHAWAY: Oh, I love my Kymmie. I love my Kymmie and Rachel. I just - she's my favorite. I think she always will be. She's got such a tremendous heart, and the chips are so stacked against her in a lot of ways.

How did I prepare? Well, I had been given the script for "Rachel Getting Married" by, as I mentioned before, the wonderful, my beloved Jonathan Demme. And I'd been given it about a year before we actually filmed and I just, I don't know. I bonded with her the first time I read it.

Jonathan and I spent a year talking about the character until we got the financing together and we filmed it. And I just - she was - I don't know. I just tried to get inside of her head as deeply as I could. And I did a lot of research into addiction.

GROSS: So when you're making that toast in the film, were you looking on a large table of pained people who were listening to you and thinking, oh my God, this is really horrible?

HATHAWAY: Well, one of the things that was so, gosh, amazing about "Rachel Getting Married" was the way it was shot. We didn't rehearse. And so I never had any idea how any of the actors were going to say the lines. We never discussed backstory amongst, with each other.

Our relationships kind of were all filtered through Jonathan. And so we all - he put us in the same film and we just kind of all played, and there was always usually about three or four cameras in the room. We worked out the most basic of blocking, and we just filmed it.

So that rehearsal dinner, what we did was they'd rigged cameras on elastic and had them hanging from the ceiling. And that take was about an hour. And the scene which winds up being probably about seven minutes in the film was shot largely over an hour and a half in real time, and everybody got up and made a toast.

And so I'm absorbing them. People are, like, kind of - some people are doing, saying direct digs at Kym. Other people are completely avoiding her, you know, ignoring her.

And so I guess I didn't have to do too much except listen to everybody. So when I - but when I stood up, people were reacting. They were so in the scene. There was a palpable energy shift as it went on. And, yeah, it was quite a gift to get to make that film and make that film in that way.

GROSS: Do you think it gave the film a more real look because things were not totally planned, some of the reactions were spontaneous, genuinely spontaneous?

HATHAWAY: I think so. I think some of the funniest moments in the movie happened because we hadn't rehearsed them. There's a scene where my character and the beautiful Rosemarie DeWitt's character, Rachel, the titular character of the film, they've gone to have their hair done. And some secret gets revealed.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: Some dramatic moment happens in the hair salon. Rachel leaves. My character has to make it home, and then we sort of, we have a confrontation in front of the family. And one of the things that Jonathan did was he decided he wanted to score the movie live.

So we had these wonderful musicians around all the time, and they're playing in the background. And most scenes, it actually really enhanced the experience. But we go through one take, and I'm just sitting there, and I hadn't anticipated the scene would have them.

I: Is there any possible way we could do this scene without the musicians? They're great. I love them but maybe not this one.

I: You don't like it, do something about it. And in that scene, I wind up yelling at the musicians and the line: God, do we have to have them all the time - was improved, and everyone just kind of reacted to it, and the reactions you get from that are completely spontaneous.

And so in that sense, it was invaluable. But it also...

GROSS: I remember that scene. I didn't realize...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: I didn't realize how that came about.

HATHAWAY: That's how that came about. And I what it did was, I mean, I don't know that this process could work with every cast. But we had Bill Irwin. We had Anna Deavere Smith. We had Rosemarie DeWitt, Mather Zickel and I just - it was...

GROSS: Debra Winger's great in it.

HATHAWAY: Debra Winger. I mean, my goodness. I don't think it would work with every cast, but we were all game. We're all devotees of Jonathan. I think after the second day, we realized it was going to work and so we just - it made us trust each other more.

GROSS: My guest, Anne Hathaway, will be back in the second half of the show. She's starring with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new film "Love and Other Drugs." I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross, back with Anne Hathaway. She's starring with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new film "Love and Other Drugs." Her other films include "The Princess Diaries," "Brokeback Mountain," "Rachel Getting Married" and "The Devil Wears Prada."

From what I've read, it sounds like Meryl Streep is one of the actresses you most admire, and you got - yes? That's factually true?

HATHAWAY: Yes. Yes, I am.

GROSS: Okay.

HATHAWAY: Absolutely. I was going to say yes, yes, yes, yeah.

GROSS: So you got to act with her in "The Devil Wears Prada," where she plays the editor of a top fashion magazine, Runway. And the character's reminiscent of Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue magazine. And so this character, the Meryl Streep character, orders everyone around. She's very demanding. In fact, she's absurdly demanding. And this is your job interview with her to be her assistant. And at the end of this scene, the art director, Nigel, walks in - and he's played by Stanley Tucci. Meryl Streep speaks first

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA")

MERYL STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) Who are you?

HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) My name is Andy Sachs. I recently graduated from Northwestern University.

STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) And what you doing here?

(SOUNDBITE OF CLEARING THROAT)

HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Well, I think I could do a good job as your assistant. And, yeah, I came to New York to be a journalist and sent letters out everywhere, and then finally got a call from Elias Clarke and met with Sherry up at human resources and, basically, it's this or Auto Universe.

STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) So you don't read runway?

HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Uh, no.

STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) And before today, you had never heard of me.

HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) No.

STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) And you have no style or sense of fashion.

HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Well, I think that depends on what you're...

STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) No, no. That wasn't a question.

HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) I was editor-in-chief of the Daily Northwestern. I also won a national competition for college journalists with my series on the janitors' union, which exposed the exploitation of...

STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) That's all.

HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Yeah. You know, okay. You're right. I don't fit in here. I am not skinny or glamorous, and I don't know that much about fashion. But I'm smart. I learn fast, and I will work very hard...

STANLEY TUCCI: (as Nigel) I got the exclusive on the Cavalli for Gwyneth. But the problem is with this huge feathered headdress that she's wearing. She looks like she's working the main stage at the Golden Nugget.

STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) Uh-huh.

HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Thank you for your time.

TUCCI: (as Nigel) Who is that sad, little person? Are we doing a before-and-after piece I don't know about?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: I love that line.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: Oh, Stanley, Meryl.

GROSS: So that's my guest Anne Hathaway with Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci in a scene from "The Devil Wears Prada."

So did you learn things from acting with Meryl Streep?

HATHAWAY: Oh, my gosh. It was getting to watch a master work every day. Yes, I observed quite a few things that changed me.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: Tell us about one or two.

HATHAWAY: Her focus. I didn't realize that an actor could have that level of focus and still be spontaneous and still - oh, gosh. Her vocal work just amazed me, her breathing. I mean, from a technical standpoint, I didn't know how she could be so on top of everything and still be so relaxed. And that just really blew my mind, how deep in her bones she'd take in a character.

I mean, it was an incredible thing to watch her transform, to have her be Meryl in the rehearsal room, and you'd get a, you know, like a good morning, sweetie. And then like, okay, bye. See you in a few. And then she would completely disappear for the next 13 hours. And I just, I don't think I'd ever witnessed acting on the cellular level that she does it at, up close before and for such a long period of time. So I just - it made - I'm like I want to do that. How do you do that?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: Now, you mentioned her vocal technique and her breathing. Was this, like, preparation work that you're talking about?

HATHAWAY: No. No, no. It later - I mean, the first time that I saw her play Miranda was in the table read. And I thought, you know, whatever - how old I was, 22-year-old I was at the time - you know, with all my great instincts, I was, like, well, she's going to be barking out orders. She's going to be talking loudly. She's going to be talking over everybody. And Meryl came out with this whisper. And it was so genius to watch, because at the table read, every last person in the room leaned forward. And she had everyone from that point on. She had all the power in the room, and she had all the power on set. It was something to witness, I'll tell you.

GROSS: I'll confess, it always bothers me a little bit when somebody is, like, really beautiful as you is supposed to be, early in the film, somebody who's, like, so ordinary and mousy. And, like, people are just, like, dismissing her like yuck. What? Are we doing a makeover? You know, like, what is this? I don't even know what my question is. I just wanted to express that, that...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: Express your outrage?

GROSS: Well, I just...

HATHAWAY: Aw, thank you.

GROSS: I just sometimes feel a little bad because that ordinary people don't get to play ordinary roles? Do you know what I mean? It's a...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: I don't know. I don't know. I'm no, you know, Megan Fox or Kate Beckinsale or those kind of, you know, like jaw-dropping beauties. I think I'm a pretty regular girl. I just get - what I get to do is I get to dress up a lot. So you're just used to seeing me all shellacked.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: But if he saw me right now, I don't think you doubt it.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: My guest is Anne Hathaway. She's starring in the new film "Love and Other Drugs."

We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GROSS: My guest is Anne Hathaway, and she's starring in the new movie "Love and Other Drugs." So I think your first big film role was "The Princess Diaries."

HATHAWAY: Yes, it was.

GROSS: Yeah, in which you play an awkward 15-year-old who finds out that her father was a prince and that she's actually a princess.

HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: And so...

HATHAWAY: The Princess of Genovia.

GROSS: Of Genovia, which I guess is like Monaco or something, a little teeny country?

HATHAWAY: Sure. Yeah. It's a small European principality.

GROSS: Right. Okay. Fictional, of course.

HATHAWAY: Yes.

GROSS: I wonder what your perspective as a woman is on the whole like princess fantasy thing.

HATHAWAY: I never had the princess fantasy thing. So, for me, it was more about a girl who believes she's very ordinary, who's being asked to become bigger than herself to meet this extraordinary opportunity where she can do a lot of good in the world. And that was always the aspect of it that appealed to me. The whole princess aspect of it got - and I know I should have probably been involved, because it's got princess in the title, but that whole thing kind of passed me by.

GROSS: Well, let's hear a scene. And this is the scene where your paternal grandmother, Clarisse Renaldi, played by Julie Andrews, tells - you're meeting her for the first time, and she tells you that your father was the crown prince of Genovia, and since his recent death in a car crash, you are now heir to the throne. So here's the scene.

HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE PRINCESS DIARIES")

HATHAWAY: (as Mia Thermopolis) Why on earth would you pick me to be your princess?

JULIE ANDREWS: (as Queen Clarisse Renaldi) Since your father died, you are the natural heir to the throne of Genovia. That's our law. I'm royal by marriage. You are royal by blood. You can rule.

HATHAWAY: (as Mia Thermopolis) Rule? Oh, no. Oh, no. No, no, no. Now you have really got the wrong girl. I never lead anybody, not at Brownies, not at Campfires Girls. Queen Clarisse, my expectation in life is to be invisible, and I'm good at it.

ANDREWS: (as Queen Clarisse Renaldi) Mia, I had other expectations, also. In my wildest streams I never expected this to happen. But you are the legal heir, the only heir to the Genovian throne, and we will accept the challenge of helping you become the princess that you are.

Oh, I can give you books. You will study languages, history, art, political science. I can teach you to walk, talk, sit, stand, eat, dress like a princess. Given time, I think you'll find the palace in Genovia a very pleasant place to live. It's a wonderful country Mia, really...

HATHAWAY: (as Mia Thermopolis) Live in Genovia? Whoa. Whoa. Just rewind and freeze. I'm no princess. I am still waiting for normal body parts to arrive. I refuse to move to and rule a country. And do you want another reason? I don't want to be a princess.

GROSS: Okay.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: My guest is...

HATHAWAY: She means it.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: Yes. My guest Anne Hathaway with Julie Andrews in a scene from "The Princess Diaries." Did you grow up with Julie Andrews movies like "Mary Poppins," "Sound of Music?"

HATHAWAY: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, a staple in my household.

GROSS: So...

HATHAWAY: We're big musical theater fans, so Julie Andrews was kind of, you know, one of our icons.

GROSS: So what was it like being in so many scenes with her?

HATHAWAY: Oh, man, I was so tongue-tied around her all the time.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: I was always worried about saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing. And she's the nicest person. She couldn't be warmer. I was just incredibly intimidated. And I'm - gosh, I haven't seen that film in years and years and years, and just listening to it, I can't even imagine what it must've been like for her to work with me. I was so green and so kind of at sea in a lot of ways, and she and Garry really, you know, were kind to me and did a lot to shape my performance. And just listening to her work in that and how she really keeps the scene on point and I'm just kind of, you know, I don't know what I'm doing.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: I'm like a boat butting against the raft, hitting it a little bit too hard. But that is so - she was amazing.

GROSS: How old were you?

HATHAWAY: I was 17 when we shot that, and I turned 18 while we filmed.

GROSS: You are now preparing to play Judy Garland in an adaptation of Gerald Clark's book "Get Happy," a biography of Judy Garland.

HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: And - so recently on "Saturday Night Live," you did Judy Garland in a parody of the "Wizard of Oz." But I'm wondering, like, in going back and watching Judy Garland movies and her variety show, listening to her sing, what are some of the things that you're picking up on that strike you as, you know, essential Judy Garland qualities?

HATHAWAY: That no matter what she was doing, no matter how unreal the circumstances - and especially in that early work when she had to do things that were quite a bit fluffier - she's always present. Her emotions are present in every single scene. She knows what she's doing. And I think the effortlessness with which she performed - when watching the "Wizard of Oz" again in preparation for "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, you're watching her and she was - I think she went from 13 to 15 when she made the "Wizard of Oz," because I know they filmed it over, I think, about 18 months.

And you're watching her work with people twice, three times her age who've had a lifetime to hone their skill, and she's matching them step for step. And oftentimes, when she's sharing the screen with someone, you can't take your eyes off of her. And she just, she was a prodigy. She was an absolute prodigy, and she wore it like nothing. She wore it like a second skin.

GROSS: Are you going to do your own singing for the movie?

HATHAWAY: There's been talk of that. I don't want to say yea or nay. I think if I can - because, you know, I think people love Judy's voice, and I certainly want to be able to do her voice. But I don't know if I'm going to do it or not. There's been talk of both - or either, rather.

GROSS: Now you sang in "Ella Enchanted." You sang the Queen song...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: ..."Somebody to Love."

HATHAWAY: Yeah.

GROSS: And you sang in Sondheim's 75th birthday tribute.

HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: You did "What More Do I Need," a song from "Saturday Night."

HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: It must be frustrating for you to not get a lot of chances to sing. Oh, you were also in the Encore's production of, you know, a revival of "Carnival."

HATHAWAY: Mm.

GROSS: So is it frustrating that you don't get more opportunity to sing?

HATHAWAY: Far be it for me to complain about working.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: So if the work doesn't involve singing, I'm not - no, I don't notice it. If I wanted to be a singer, I'd be a singer. I love to sing, but I love acting so much more. And when I get a chance to do both, of course, I'm happiest. I love performing. But no, no, no. I'm very happy to be an actor who sings.

GROSS: One more thing I just went to squeeze in before our time runs out. I read that you were originally supposed to have the role that Katherine Heigl got in "Knocked Up," the Judd Apatow film, and that you didn't like the idea - at the end, you know, she gets pregnant, and at the end when she gives birth, we actually see a real birth. I mean, we see the whole detail of it head on. Why did you decline because of that, you know, actual footage of birth?

HATHAWAY: Well, first of all, let me just say, I love Judd, and I had talked to him about this. And he told me that this shot was non- negotiable. And then I thought - I had to really think about my feelings about it. It wasn't a shot that was the problem. I actually think the shot's great and totally - and he was absolutely right in doing it. And his reasons for it was, you know, you have all this buildup to the birth, what, you're going to cop out before the ending of it? And I thought he was right. And obviously, as evidence to my new film, I'm fine with nudity. That wasn't the issue.

For me, it was when I do nudity, it's me. It's my body up there. It's my decision. But in approximating birth, I would be - and I know this might sound a little off. But I hope to be a mother someday, and it's one of the things I'm looking forward to the most in my life. And I want that experience, that really intimate experience to be between me and them, and my husband or my lover, or whatever my situation is at the time. And I just couldn't, at the time - and I think I was 24 years old when that film was, when I was attached to that film. I couldn't imagine inviting the world into that moment of what I hope to be in my life. And I couldn't - it's the only time I've ever felt that way as an actor.

GROSS: It must be hard to say no.

HATHAWAY: Either way, it's scary. Saying yes is just as scary as saying no.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HATHAWAY: I find that people usually find the part that they're meant to do. And when you don't do something and someone, like this is the perfect example. Katherine Heigl became a big, big, big, big movie star from her work in "Knocked Up," and that was the right role for her. That was supposed to be her role, and it was just - and the reason it didn't work out for me was because it wasn't mine, and I'm very comfortable with that. And I think that, you know, I look at a role like "The Devil Wears Prada" that I got to do, I had to wait for seven girls to turn that down. And I think the reason why it got to me was because it was my role.

GROSS: Interesting way to look at it.

HATHAWAY: Well, you got to keep your sanity somehow.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSS: Okay. Anne Hathaway, thank you so much for talking with us.

HATHAWAY: Terry, this was such a pleasure. Thank you so much.

GROSS: Anne Hathaway stars with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new film "Love and Other Drugs." According to Nikki Finke's website, "Deadline Hollywood," Anne Hathaway and James Franco have been asked to host the Academy Awards.

Here's and Hathaway singing the Queen song "Somebody to Love" from her 2004 movie "Ella Enchanted."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ELLA ENCHANTED")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOMEBODY TO LOVE")

HATHAWAY: (Singing) Got no feel, I got no rhythm. I just keep losing my beat. She just keeps losing her beat. I'm okay, I'm alright.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) She's all right. She's all right.

HATHAWAY: (Singing) Face no defeat. I just got to get out of this prison cell. One day I'm going to be free, Lord. Somebody.

Group: (Singing) Somebody.

HATHAWAY: (Singing) Somebody.

Group: (Singing) Somebody.

HATHAWAY: (Singing) Can anybody find me somebody to love?

Unidentified Man: Give a little more soul.

CHORUS: (Singing) She works hard everyday.

HATHAWAY: (Singing) Everyday. I try and I try and I try. But everybody wants to put me down. They say I'm going crazy. They say I got a lot of water in my brain. Got no common sense. I got nobody left to believe. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

GROSS: Coming up, we listen back to a 1993 interview with Leslie Nielsen, the star of the film parodies "Airplane" and "The Naked Gun." He died yesterday at the age of 84.

This is FRESH AIR.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.