One Day in Her Life
by Jay S. Jacobs
It seems like we’ve known Anne Hathaway forever, but surprisingly we’ve just passed the ten-year anniversary of her first film, The Princess Diaries.
It’s been quite a whirlwind of a decade for the perky, beautiful actress. We have watched her grow up as she has become a superstar due to head-turning and varied performances in films like The Devil Wears Prada, Brokeback Mountain, Rachel Getting Married, Get Smart, Becoming Jane and Love and Other Drugs.
Her latest role may be her most difficult yet – and ironically, we get to watch her character grow over the period of years, much like we have for her career. In One Day, she plays Emma, a working class British woman who ages on camera from University to her late 30s. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by David Nicholls, the film drops in a single day (July 15th) in the life of two friends every year from 1988 to the present day.
In 1988, Emma is a shy, bookish student with a crush on Dexter (played by Jim Sturgess of 21 and Across the Universe). An attempted fling is derailed by fate, but a long friendship perseveres. The two stick together through good times and bad, through bad jobs and wild nights, through relationships and kids, through money problems and identity crises.
The audience always knows they are meant to be together, but it takes them a longer and more varied route to come to this realization.
As One Day is being released, Hathaway is also working on her latest blockbuster, playing Catwoman in Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.
About a week before the premiere of One Day, we were lucky enough to be included in a small group of media outlets that were invited to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York to speak with Hathaway about the film.
How do you create a character that is going to have an arc from college to her 40s? What about her did you cling to over all those years?
The book. (laughs) I clung to the book, tightly. (Long pause) I imagined Emma as a butterfly. I know that sounds very romantic, but just wait, it gets violent. (laughs again) Now, everyone knows a caterpillar makes a cocoon around itself and becomes a butterfly, but I didn’t realize is that’s really a horrifically painful process in which the caterpillar is basically torn apart and then is allowed emerge a butterfly. I also had a magnet that I clung to very strongly in this movie which said “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it turned into a butterfly.” The thing that I clung to about Emma was that she’s a survivor. She is someone who gets up when you knock her down. She is somebody who wants to grow. She is somebody who wants to be her best self. She’s somebody who, contrary to what she might profess, is somebody who believes that things are going to turn out okay. It’s hard for her to admit that. I don’t think it’s really in her upbringing. I don’t think it’s really a world view that she was raised with, but she knows on some level that she’s going to make a life that’s okay for herself.
Do you think that if Emma and Dexter had hooked up in the beginning that their relationship would have lasted as long as it did?
No, not at all. Definitely not. I think that he would have treated her very badly and she wouldn’t have had enough self-possession to call him out on it. In the early stages… she gets more comfortable with him, but when they first meet, she kind of walks on eggshells around him. It’s one of the bittersweet parts of the story that I don’t think they could have gotten together a day before they did.
Do you believe in friendships between women and men and have you had any experiences like that in your own life?
I absolutely believe in friendship between a man and a woman. I think that the friendship stays purer when each of the people is in a relationship. It’s a lot easier to keep your emotions from getting messy. It’s harder when you are not in a relationship, because emotions are messy. (laughs) Have I had friendships where there is that little frisson?Absolutely!
Did you have a crush on your male friend or your male friend have a crush on you?
I’ve totally had crushes on male friends. I don’t know if any of them have ever had a crush on me. Nobody’s ever told me about it, so…. (laughs)
Do you wish that someone would?
I’ve been in a relationship for three years now, so that part of me is kind of in the past. Hopefully, things will continue to go well in my relationship, so I think that part of my life may be over.
Are you friends with your boyfriend?
Oh, yeah! He’s my best friend. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean I don’t want to talk about my relationship that much, but I think part of the reason why I’m so happy in my relationship is because he’s not just my boyfriend. We are a lot of things to each other.
What surprised you the most about seeing the final cut of the movie? Also, how do you prefer to see final cuts – private screenings or in the audience?
I like to see things privately, with a few carefully chosen friends around me, to be able to talk about it, afterwards. I haven’t had a chance to see this one, yet. I saw a rough cut a few months back on a computer – then I had to break the disk and do dramatic things.
(One of the writers jokingly reveals a plot point about her character, which we will not reveal so as not to ruin the surprise.)
Spoiler alert! (Laughs, then mock horrified) OMG! WTF? I have to see this movie! (Calms down) It’s okay. It’s okay. I read the book. Do not put that in your article! You’ll ruin it for the world, if I haven’t already. So, ideally, that’s the way I like to [watch films]. I haven’t had the chance to do that one yet. I didn’t sit through the screening last night because there was press there and there was going to be press to do afterwards and I like to be free to react any way I want, you know? When you have to be professional, you are not totally free all the time. So I will probably sneak into a theater somewhere in Pittsburgh [where she is filming the latest Batman film] and go to see the movie the opening weekend. Hopefully there will be other people in the audience. (laughs) Maybe it will be an unplanned private screening.
Can you talk a little bit about how you brought Emma to life?
The first thing was getting into the accent. The accent was key. It informs so much about Emma and Dexter’s relationship that we don’t necessarily talk about in the movie, but a huge part of the book is the class difference between them, and how that’s actually one of the things that keeps them from getting together early on. It’s one of the things that keeps Emma from feeling totally comfortable and confident in this life that she’s trying to establish for herself. So that was pretty key. Understanding her education – one of things that I did was I tried to read as many books that David [Nicholls] mentions by name in the novel. In fact, I’m a really good reader and they were a little arduous. (laughs) I much preferred Dexter’s. He’s always reading The Face magazine and I was like: can I do that? I just went to England as early as I could and tried to pay attention. Just went up to every single person I could meet from Yorkshire and just asked them as many questions as I could. Kate Fox wrote a book, I’m blanking on the title right now. I think it’s called either Studying the English or Watching the English or Learning the English or something like that. [It’s called Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour.] But it’s an amazing book and it breaks down a lot of typically British characteristics. It really helped me.
Were you aware of the One Day novel before you got the part?
I was sent the script first. As soon as I read the script, I was deeply in love with it. Then I read the book and I fell even more in love with the whole idea. Then I did a full-scale assault on [director] Lone [Scherfig, who had previously done An Education] to get me the role. (chuckles) So, I knew it.
You were really chic in the scenes in Paris. In fact, you always are. What were you wearing, who are you wearing today and who are your favorite designers?
In the Parisian scenes, everything I wore was vintage or recreated from vintage. The look was informed by the book. When Emma got to Paris, I loved that description that David put in that she bought a blouse that cost way too much money. She decided to splurge and was trying to decide to button the second button or the third button and in the book Dexter calls her out on the unbuttoning of it. It’s such a great detail. We didn’t have a very large budget on this movie, especially considering all the change that had to happen. You would expect over 20 years to have a huge budget, but we had geniuses working. Odile Dicks-Mireaux was the costume designer and Ivana Primorac was the hair and make-up supervisor. I don’t know how they did it. They literally spun gold for pennies. So that was the Parisian thing. I like the idea that Emma had finally arrived at the place where she let her full romantic self out. She had a Jean Seberg haircut, a vintage dress. Loved it. Then what am I wearing today? Today I am wearing Band of Outsiders. My favorite designers are Valentino, of course, Yves Saint Laurent, Vivian Westwood and… gosh there’s so many. And of course, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. It was just like, whoa, thank you so much for giving us Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. It was totally a highlight. It’s been a highlight of this new decade. (laughs)
This story is about a straight couple, but how do you think this story will play for a gay audience?
Love is universal. Anybody who has a heart can relate to what it is to have it broken again and again and again by a person. That’s, as I say, universal. Gay, straight, questioning, whatever you are.
Do you know gay couples like Emma does?
Oh, my God! Yes, I went to Vassar. (laughs) I have friends from Vassar who we have like a pod now. We’ve all been in each other’s lives for ten years.
And now gay love is recognized here in New York…
Yes! (yells) Yes! Round of applause for New York! I was so happy. I couldn’t believe it. I was just following it. I was out of the country, so I was on my computer: updating, updating, updating. All the pictures of the couples that have been together for so many years – some people together over 60 years. Those two ladies that got married first, adorable. And that wonderful couple they had a profile done on them: one gentleman is his 80s and the other gentleman was in his 70s. They’ve been together for 65 years. It’s just beautiful. Long overdue, but so welcome. Now, the rest of America, get on it! Enough of your nonsense, your foolishness. (chuckles)
Emma and Dexter change from year to year, but there is still something about them that stays the same. What about you do you see changing from year to year and what stays the same?
I’m happier. I get happier every year. I find that as I get older, I take in life more and I think that’s making me a better person. As I get older I find that I’ve become more trusting, but I trust fewer people. The people I do trust, it’s just gone much deeper. What stays the same? I’m really curious. I’m a really curious person. I believe that imagination is not something you grow out of. I find that stays the same. And I love books.
Do you have a date that changed your life forever, like July 15 does in this movie?
Yeah. August 3rd.
That’s my birthday…
That was the day – August 3, 2001 – that The Princess Diaries came out. That date changed my life. It’s funny because I have so many memories from my life, but I’m so bad at remembering dates. But I just had to say that date so many times to try to get people to go see the movie that I remembered what it was. How embarrassing would it be if it was actually August 5? (laughs) I never remember that it’s coming, but at some point every August 3rd for the past 10 years I remember that was the date and I just give thanks to the universe. A big, big, big openhearted thank you because that was the day that a bunch of dreams came true for me. There are a lot of aspects to my life that are very real, but there are a lot of aspects to my life that are fairy tale, and that was the day that my fairy tale started.
It’s very important for Emma and Dexter to not only have romantic chemistry, but also be believable as friends. How quickly did you and Jim click together?
Oh, it’s very hard to not get along with Jim. If you don’t get along with Jim then there is something seriously wrong with you. I was inclined to adore Jim because we have a lot of friends in common. You know when there are those people that when their name is mentioned, everything stops? People grab you by the shoulder and they peer deep, deep, deep into your eyes? I think they think they are talking to your soul, but really they’re just looking kind of bugged out. They just shake you a little bit and describe their love for this person. That happened to me half a dozen times when I told people I was working with Jim. I kind of knew that I was going to be meeting somebody that was pretty awesome. And he did not disappoint. Now I am one of those bug-eyed people. (laughs) I’m going to take each of you by the shoulder and tell you about Jim Sturgess. He is a rad, rad, rad person. It’s really nice when someone can make you a better actor, but it is better when they make you a better person. Jim’s made me a better person.
You have been hired as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. How did you get hired? Without giving away any spoilers, what is your interpretation of the character?
I can’t talk about the interpretation, because that is just a hermetically sealed secret. I mean if you want to take on Chris Nolan, you’re welcome to. I’m intimidated. The process for getting The Dark Knight Rises was: Chris met with a bunch of girls to have a general [idea.] Then he culled the list down about three and a half months later to do screen tests. Literally all of… women are XX chromosomes, right?
Yeah, so everyone with a XX chromosome in Hollywood was literally just sitting on pins and needles for three and a half months. Then, I understood, he screen tested a few of us. I felt bad because that weekend – we tested I think on Thursday and the Golden Globes were that Sunday. I didn’t mean to, but wherever I went that weekend I just kept bumping into Chris. I’m like; I swear I’m not stalking you. (laughs) I’m not trying to force your hand. I’m not reading anything into anything. But, it was really nice, because a bunch of people that I had screen tested with, like Wally, the DP and Jordan the producer and people, because they were all nominated for Inception, I saw them that night and they all made a point of coming up to me and telling me how well I did. So, I thought it had gone well, but you never want to get your hopes up too high. A few days later, I was back in Brooklyn and my manager called me. I answered the phone and she goes, “Meow…” And I was like, ha ha. Oh wait, really? She said yes and I just celebrated. Celebrated! One of the best days of my life. Maybe I should know that date. January something. It was the Tuesday after the Golden Globes, so I should just get a calendar.
The movie is so romantic and sweet, and it seems to be coming out at an interesting time, surrounded by every crass comedy in the world. What do you think the audiences will get from One Day?
Hmm… Well I haven’t seen it. (laughs) But what I’ve been told is it’s up there with the classic love stories. I think it’s a movie that challenges audiences. I’ve seen parts of it, and just judging by people’s reactions it’s one of those movies that demands a lot of its audience. It requires you to open your heart and feel. A lot of movies don’t mind if you feel. They approach the realm of feeling, but they don’t ask you to really enter it. It’s a shame, because I personally think there are few things more satisfying in life than crying in a dark room with strangers. I know that sounds a little funny, but go to see One Day at 4 o’clock on a Wednesday, you’ll know what I’m talking about. So if people are in the mood to feel things, we’re the movie for you. We’ll see if they are.
Do you believe in soul mates?
Of course, I do. What a drab life you would have if you didn’t. I don’t know that I necessarily believe the traditional romantic view that there is one person out there for everyone. I think that we have many soul mates. Our souls are vast and therefore we must meet other souls that connect with that. I think there is probably one soul out there that lights up your soul more than any other one. And I think that’s what a soul mate is; just someone who lights you up and you light up in return.
Yes, it would be horrible if you have just one soul mate and you don’t meet them…
Yes, that’s like the saddest thing ever. By the way, my friends are my soul mates. My dog is my fucking soul mate. I think that the idea of having a soul mate is true, but to limit it one is mistaken. We are much more complex and vast than that.
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 19, 2011.
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