Published in Exit weekly.
Jersey Angel Grown Up
by Christina M. Hinke
for Exit weekly
published June 27, 2006
Anne Hathaway, 23, has such a sweet nature that it’s hard to believe that she has made it in the hard knocks world of Hollywood. She admits she’s a “natural people pleaser” and it looks like it has worked for her. Here she is with her mega-watt smile and puppy dog brown eyes, five years after “The Princess Diaries,” starring alongside heavyweight, and Summit, N.J. native, Meryl Streep in the film, “The Devil Wears Prada,” which opens June 30 and is based on the best-selling novel by Laura Weisberger.
Hathaway plays Andy Sachs, a dowdy girl from the Midwest landing her first job as assistant to the demanding, Miranda (Streep), editor-in-chief of the largest fashion magazine in the world.
“Her sweetness comes across and her intelligence. She played what was a very difficult role because it’s so passive, and that’s a very difficult thing to do in a leading role. And she pulled it off just beautifully,” said Stanley Tucci, co-star in “The Devil Wears Prada.”
She did have to chase the part down and didn’t even read the book until she got the call. “Meryl Streep is kind of the biggest draw you could give to a young actor, probably any actor, but especially me. She’s been at the top of my hit list for a while,” Hathaway affectionately said.
Streep and Hathaway both started out on stage. Through middle school and her years at Millburn High School, Hathaway performed in several productions at the Paper Mill Playhouse, where she received a Rising Star Award nomination for best lead actress in a high school production in New Jersey. She revisited her hometown playhouse in 2002, to perform with the young students at the theatre school for a fundraiser at the Paper Mill benefiting people in the community affected by 9/11.
“The Paper Mill felt like this really magical place, a big theatre, and stars came there and so it was great. When I got to do a main stage production there I loved it. I loved the whole experience. And doing a show (“Jane Eyre”) directly at the Paper Mill led to me getting my first agent. So I guess it was really important,” Hathaway recalled.
Shortly thereafter, in 1999, she got her first big break in a television series, “Get Real,” which folded after a year. In 2001, at the ripe age of 19, she had the starring role as Mia Thermopolis alongside Julie Andrews in the big budget Disney film, “The Princess Diaries.”
“I knew I wanted to be a working actress and I knew that my parents were like, stay in school. The whole movie thing really caught me by surprise,” said Hathaway.
So she took her parent’s advice and enrolled at Vassar, majoring in English, and recently transferred to New York University, putting classes on hold for her movie career.
Since signing on to do “The Princess Diaries” she said she was waiting for the right part to come along, a character actor role that she could sink her teeth into a bit. That’s when she found the breakthrough role of Lureen in “ Brokeback Mountain.”
In the same year “Brokeback” hit theatres, a straight to DVD movie, “Havoc,” came out with her playing a rich kid in LA trying to be a gangster. “The only time I felt trapped was around the time I did ‘Havoc’ and people had such a negative reaction against the girl from ‘The Princess Diaries’ doing ‘Havoc’ and doing a topless scene. I just thought, ‘Oh my god, people are just dealing with these broad strokes. How did I let myself become the girl from ‘The Princess Diaries’?”’ remarked Hathaway.
Hathaway shows no signs of turning back to her princess roots. Next year she will take on playing Jane Austen, in a biography of the noted novelist.
“She knew at a very young age what she wanted to do and she made a plan for it and really went after it. Luckily she has the talent to back it up,” said Susan Speidel, education director at the Paper Mill.
“She’s just a delicious talent. I think she can delight for years and years in lots and lots of different things,” said Streep. “Her personality is so appealing and fresh and open and warm that I think she can have a unique career.”
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