Anne Hathaway Interview – RACHEL GETTING MARRIED

     October 13, 2008

You know when you’re watching a movie and out of the blue it hits you…all of a sudden, you realize you’re watching a great performance…something that’ll be remembered at the end of the year during awards season. Well, that’s what happened to me while watching “Rachel Getting Married.”

But let me back up… for those that haven’t heard of “Rachel Getting Married”….

When Kym (Anne Hathaway) returns to the Buchman family home for the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie Dewitt), she brings a long history of personal crisis and family conflict along with her. The wedding party’s abundant cast of friends and relations have gathered for an idyllic weekend of feasting, music and love, but Kym – with her black-comic one-liners and knack for bombshell drama—is a catalyst for long-simmering tensions in the family dynamic.

Trust me, director Jonathan Demme manages to weave many storylines and people in a great way, and it’s a solid piece of filmmaking that deserves to be seen.

Also, what impressed me about Anne in the role was the way she dove into her character with full force and no apologies. While some movie stars shy away from roles that might make them look bad, or from playing a character that’s like fingernails across a blackboard, Anne played Kym with heart and honesty. I was very impressed.

For me, by the end of the film, I wasn’t watching Anne, I was observing a woman that’s deeply troubled and just trying to hang on. And since Jonathan Demme shot the movie in a documentary style…it felt that much more real.

While it’s very early to talk awards, I’d be pretty shocked if she wasn’t nominated for the big acting awards next year.

Anyway, I recently interviewed Anne in a roundtable setting, and our conversation is below. As always, you can either read it or click here to listen to/download the audio.

Finally, if you’d like to watch some movie clips from “Rachel Getting Married” click here. Also, here’s Matt’s review and here’s Brian’s. Both liked it.

Q: What was the coolest thing about playing Kym?

Anne: You mean besides the hair? For me, it was the first time that I’ve ever not editorialized a character. Sometimes I feel like ‘okay I’m going to know my character better than everyone and here’s what you’re supposed to like about her and here’s what you’re not supposed to like and here’s where she’s coming from and here’s her journey’. In a way, I would overthink it. I had a realization about a month before I made this movie that it really doesn’t matter if I like Kym or not. It doesn’t really matter, no offense, if any of you like her or love her. Actually, the only thing what was important to her story is that you understand her. The worse thing I could do would be in any way, try to manipulate her to gain the audience’s sympathy or respect. That was never my intention. I just figured ‘okay my only job, all I have to do it to make her truthful’. If you make her truthful, she’ll be understood and then people can take away from her what they want but she’ll be honest. That’ll be on them to react.

Q: How do you understand her? What’s her deal?

Anne: I got a lot of questions like ‘what was it like playing a selfish character’? I said ‘yeah, she’s got flaws and sometimes you want to smack her but the thing I love about this movie is, underneath it, here is a girl fighting for her survival. She’s fighting to stay sober. To the people who say she’s selfish, I’m just like ‘do you see what she puts up with in the movie?’ The way she’s perceived, the way she’s treated and she’s there putting up with it because she loves her sister. Kym is fierce. Kym has the biggest heart of any character that I’ve ever encountered and she’s frighteningly intelligent and she really extreme. My heart goes out to her because I know people like that. They’re just overwhelming people and that’s Kym. Kym overwhelms your senses. She’s so much fun to play.

Q: Did you feel a freedom as an actress because of the material or were you on your toes because of the shooting style?

Anne: Do you do Yoga? You know when you’re trying something new and the only way to do this incredibly difficult pose is to be as relaxed as possible? That’s kind of what making this movie was like. There were so many things being thrown at you but all you could kind of do was be like ‘all right, fine, let’s try that. Jonathan Demme’s steering this ship and I’m happy to be aboard. I personally feel that your own personal hang-ups and feelings don’t really matter when you’re on set. It’s all about telling the story and doing the scene and telling the truth. So, I just automatically try to feel comfortable wherever I am because, if I uncomfortable, that’s only gonna stilt me and make me more self-conscious and I’m kind of both of those things anyway. So, the script, the consistency of it, the complexity of the conflict, the truth of the characters, made it very easy because there is nothing you had to bring to it. You just kind of had to show up and find the truth every day.

Q: Do you think that things that happen to you as a teen, influence and inform the rest of your life or can you put it in a back drawer if anything traumatic happens?

Anne: It depends entirely on the person. I think one of the most beautiful things that we have going for us as human beings is our ability to feel. You mentioned putting something in a back drawer. I think that’s almost dangerous because everything that happens to you, at least in my experience in life and maybe I haven’t been through things that are traumatic enough, but everything that has happened to me, good and bad, I feel has happened for a reason and I’ve been made stronger from the good stuff and much, much stronger from the bad stuff. I don’t want to put anything in a drawer but I do want to let things rest and heal. It just becomes a part of you. One of my favorite lines in the movie is the woman who gets up at the first NA (narcotics anonymous) meeting and says ‘I’m an addict. That’s just one fact among many’. And, I think, when you’re talking about your past, that’s what happens. It depends of course, on the level of the trauma.

Q: Do your roles effect your personal life or stay with you for a while?

Anne: I didn’t want to let Kym go. I’m not gonna lie. I didn’t want to let her go. I loved her. I felt more inspired to be honest. I felt more willingness after I played this character, to put myself out there and not be afraid of being judged or misunderstood or disliked. I found a lot of confidence in this role to be able to approach people and say, ‘look, as long as I’m myself, you can like me or dislike me but at least it’s under honorable pretenses’. I felt really comfortable and I found that that level of honesty and self-representation has really deepened my relationship with people that I love in my life and has made my life better. Even if Kym’s not with me anymore, her lessons are.

Q: Were the other wedding guests informed about who Kym was and what her deal was or did they just have to meet her point blank?

Anne: No. Everybody had a backstory that Jonathan had talked to them about at least once. So, some people were older family members in the story so, obviously, there was more of a give and take and other people were kind of fresh to it, like, for example, the Karen character, who was able to see Kym exactly as who she is without her past, without her baggage, who observes her as being a very complicated girl but also sees how far she’s come along in her recovery. So, it was a mixed bag really but I thought it was really cool. I got to meet Fab Five Freddy…and I just went ahead full steam like we’ve been friends forever. I was running up to him, jumping on him, asking him questions and it was great because he was game. But, one time I totally crossed a line and he was like ‘who is this girl?’ And I’m just like ‘see? That works for the character’. [laughter]. He was really nice.

Q: How are you doing with all the Oscar buzz for this performance?

Anne: It’s thrilling to have inspired people in the performance to put their passion out there on display. That’s so cool and I’ve never done anything that warranted that before or garnered it so I’m enjoying having my work enjoyed. That being said, ultimately the buzz doesn’t matter until the nominations come out so I’m not really thinking about it too much.

Q: After doing this, how light and free is Bride Wars?

Anne: Honestly, it was tough to get back to the 19-hour shooting days because, on this one, if we worked 10 hours everyone was like ‘oh, my God. It’s so hard’. We were so spoiled in terms of how well we were taken care of and /Bride Wars/ was a pretty rigorous shooting shooting schedule but I was still coming out of Jonathan Demme world so I felt I had a really light touch with the character and I felt really good playing her. Bride Wars is this movie 180 degrees. It’s impossible not to have fun with Kate Hudson. She’s like a ray of sunshine.

Q: She’s in the building today.

Anne: I know! I haven’t seen her yet.

Q: She just told us that she’s seen a cut of it and she really liked it.

Anne: Oh yeah. She didn’t call me! [laughs]. She owes me, that blonde.

Q: Do you think you’ll be nominated for the Oscar or Golden Globe?

Anne: It doesn’t matter. I either will or I won’t just like in the past.

Q: What was it like to switch gears and represent a fragrance? To do something where you don’t have to figure out character?

Anne: [she makes a pouty look] Oh, I had a character [laughs].

Q: I mean one you didn’t have to analyze.

Anne: I analyzed her too. [laughter]. I think I just torture myself because I do all this stuff. But, it was fun to tell a story in 30 seconds and we’re about to shoot a second campaign where we have to tell a story in 12 seconds. We’re all sitting about with our heads in our hand like ‘okay, what’s your idea?’ It’s a different type of storytelling. I’m used to telling stories in two hours and so to condense it like that and try to have something that means something is a challenge but it’s also really fun because it’s like a day that you shoot.

Q: After the success of Get Smart, have you been asked to do another


Anne: I have not been asked yet. I understand that people are hopeful butnothing has been set in stone yet. If you care please call Warner Brothers.

Q: How was your experience at the Democratic National Convention?

Anne: Oh wow, it was amazing. Let me preface this by saying when I’m promoting a movie, I don’t talk politics and when I’m talking politics, I don’t promote a movie but to talk about the DNC as an experience without going into my adoration of Barack Obama [laughter]. Entirely not talking about how much I love Barack Obama and I think he should be the President.. yeah. It was a really cool thing when we made this movie because Jonathan cast it like his life and that’s my life and the movie looks like the America that I know. And, all of a sudden, I was at the DNC and the DNC looked like the America that I know and the RNC …just didn’t [laughter]. I just thought, ‘yeah this is where we are. This is who we are’. It’s funny, the word ‘liberal’ has been so besmirched the past eight years by the administration that it caused a lot of people to lose hope but to see people standing there looking at a candidate like Barack Obama and saying ‘oh yeah, our liberal policies produced that genius or helped that genius along and gave him opportunities and that is what America can be and that’s what we should be moving toward’. To be with 84 thousand people who had felt disenfranchised and hopeless and powerless and without a voice, all of a sudden, to be there and say ‘no it’s okay. I believe too’. It was like a liberal revival. It was so exciting.

Q: Do you have sisters? How did you make this experience in the film authentic?

Anne: Well, I don’t have sisters but I do have girlfriends that we’re as close as sisters and I have, as a grown-up observed my girlfriends who had sisters, observing what that was like and what I always noticed was that I always thought they hated each other but that’s the thing about sisterhood, it’s a person that you are free to love with your whole heart and hate with your whole heart so I think Rosemarie and I just kind of did that in our scenes. So that was the way we attacked it, like it’s the person that, maybe you don’t talk to them for months at a time but, when you go back, you can’t deny that your heart reaches out for that person.

Q: Did you have time to get to know Rosemarie first?

Anne: Well, we didn’t want to. We went out to have a dinner and it was a little awkward because we were half in character, half really curious about what the other person was like so we didn’t really try. We thought that the awkwardness would be good between the two us because the characters don’t know each other very well right now and are getting to know each other again during the first of the movie so we never focused on that or doubted that. We kind of kept a really respectful, friendly distance from each other. It was never any question that it was personal, it was just what’s going to serve the story best. We’ve gotten to know each other since the movie finished and I really like her. She’s a great girl and she’s so adorable. She’s like the most adorable person on the planet and she’s a phenomenal actress and I expect such great things for her and doors to open from this performance because it’s just magnificent.

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