Serious credit goes to Anne Hathaway for making up for the serious lack of time during the our interview. Rather than be content to run down the clock, she elected to speak at lightning speeds. Consider that all of the following sprung from her head in a little over twenty minutes and it’s easy to see why she is increasingly in demand and consistently lauded as one of the most dedicated talents of her generation.
Rachel Getting Married is already building steam (and the kind of polarizing reactions that tend to cluster around a risky movie) with Hathaway’s performance at the center. The film will be released next week on October 3rd. Now Annes gets a chance to speak (at a thousand words per minute) about the work that went into creating Kym, life on a post-doc Demme set, and exorcising the demons via the DNC.
Jonathan said the looseness of Jenny’s screenplay made him feel more free to play around as a director. Did you feel that same freedom because of the material? Were you kept on your toes because of the shooting style?
Anne: It was, well… Do you do yoga? [reporter confirms that yes, she does 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 and all you could do was say ‘Alright. Let’s try that. Jonathan Demme is steering this ship and I’m happy to be aboard.’
In a way,[my personal feelings] and hang-ups don’t really matter on set. It’s all about telling the story and doing the scene and telling the truth. I just try to feel comfortable wherever I am because if I’m uncomfortable, that’s only going to stilt me and make me feel more subconscious. I’m kind of dealing with those things, anyway. The script, the consistency of it, the complexity of the conflict, the truth of the characters made it very easy because there’s nothing you had to bring to it. You just had to show up.
What was the greatest thing about playing Kym?
You mean besides the hair? I think for me it was the first time I’ve ever not editorialized a character, you know what I’m saying? Sometimes I felt like ‘okay I’m gonna know my character better than everyone and here’s what you’re supposed to like about her and what you’re not supposed to like, here’s where she’s coming from and here’s her journey.’ I had a realization about a month before we made this movie that it really didn’t matter if I liked Kym or not and it really didn’t matter, no offense, if any of you like Kym or love her.
The only thing that was important to her story was that you understand her. The worst thing I could do would be to manipulate her, to gain the audience’s sympathy, respect, or anything like that. That was never my intention. My only job was to make her truthful. If I make her truthful she’ll be understood and then people can take away from her what they want. She’ll be honest. That’ll be on [the audience] to react.
Who’d you understand her to be, though? What’s her deal?
You know, I’ve gotten a lot of questions kind of like “what was it like playing a selfish character?” Kym definitely has flaws and sometimes you want to smack her but the thing that I love about this movie is underneath it, here’s a girl fighting for her survival, fighting to stay sober, and to the people who say she’s selfish I’m like ‘did you 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. She has the biggest heart of any character I’ve ever encountered, and she’s frighteningly intelligent and really extreme. And my heart goes out to her because I know people like that, who are just overwhelming. And she’s so much fun to play.
In the “simulated wedding” atmosphere, were the other guests informed on who Kym was or did they meet her point blank?
Everyone had a backstory that Jonathan had talked to them about at least once. Some people were old family members in the story, so obviously there was more of a give-and-take and other people were kind of fresh to it. The Kieran character was able to see Kym exactly for who she is without her past or baggage. He observes her as being a very complicated girl but also sees how far she’s come along in her recovery.
It was mixed bag really, but I thought it was really cool to meet Fab Five Freddy and I just went ahead full-steam like we’d been friends for ever. And so I was running up to him, jumping up on him, asking him questions.
It was great because he was game but at one point I totally crossed the line and he was like ‘who the hell is this girl?’ and I was like ‘It just works for the character!”
In your work, does the life of the character stay with you?
I didn’t want to let Kym go. I’m not gonna lie, I loved her. I felt more inspired to be honest, more of a willingness after playing this character to put myself out there and not be afraid of being judged or misunderstood. I found a lot of confidence in this role to approach people [with the mindset of] 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. I feel like that level of honesty and self-representation has really deepened my relationships with people I love and it’s made my life better. Even if Kym isn’t with me, her lessons are and that’s good.
One of the most beautiful things we have going for us as human beings is our ability to heal. I think that’s almost dangerous [to repress things] because everything that happens to you, at least in my experience and maybe I haven’t been through anything traumatic enough, everything that has happened to me, good or bad, 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. And it just becomes a part of you.
One of my favorite lines in the movie is from the woman who gets up during the 12-step meeting and says ‘I’m an addict and that’s a fact. It’s one fact among many.’ I think that when you’re talking about your past, I think that’s what happens. With respect to the level of the trauma.
Well, I don’t have sisters but I have girlfriends who’re as close as sisters and I have grown up observing my friends who had sisters and what that was like. What I was always noticing was that they always seemed to hate each other. But that’s the thing about sisterstood, there’s a person you’re free to love with your whole heart and hate with your whole heart. So I think Rosemarie kind of did that in our scenes. That was the way we attacked it, like maybe you don’t talk to them for a month at a time but when you go back you can’t deny that your heart goes out to that person.
Did you meet with Rosemarie before shooting and if so, did it help?
We didn’t want to, we went out to have a dinner and it was really awkward because we were half in character, half really curious what the other person was like so didn’t really try [to meet beforehand]. We thought the awkwardness would be good between the two of us because the characters don’t know each other very well [at the time] and they’re getting to know each other again over the course of the movie, so we never focused on it.
We kept a respectful, friendly distance from each other. There was never any question that it was personal, it was just what was going to serve the story best, and we’ve gotten to know each other since the movie finished and I really like her. She’s a great girl and she’s adorable. She’s like the most adorable person on the planet. She’s a phenomenal actress and I expect a lot of doors to open for her because of this performance. It’s magnificent.
How are you doing with all the buzz?
What buzz? Bees, you mean?
No, all the oscar buzz that’s been swirling around.
It’s thrilling to have inspired people in a performance, to put their passion out there on display, and I’ve never done anything that garnered that before 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.
How was it going from this to Bride Wars?
Honestly it was tough to get back to the nineteen hour shooting days because in [Rachel…] if we worked ten, everyone would be like ‘oh my gawd, 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 schedule. I felt like I was still coming out of Jonathan Demme world so I had a really light touch with the character and I felt really good playing her. Bride Wars is like [Rachel Getting Married] a hundred-and-eighty degrees. It’s impossible not to have fun with Kate Hudson. She’s like a ray of sunshine.
She’s in the building today…
I knooooow! And I still haven’t seen her.
She just told us she just saw a cut of ‘Bride Wars’ and she really liked it…
Oh yeah?? She didn’t call me! [laughs] She owes me.
After the success of Get Smart have you been asked to do another one?
I have not been asked yet. I understand that people are hopeful but nothing has been set in stone. So if you care pleeese call Warner Brothers.
How would you describe your DNC experience?
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 talk politics I don’t promote a movie, but to talk about the DNC as an experience without going into my adoration of Barack Obama [laughs, leans in to the recorders] entirely NOT talking about how much I LOVE Barack Obama…
You know it was really cool thing when we made this movie because Jonathan cast it like his life and that’s my life and it looks like the America that I know. And all of the sudden I was at the DNC and the DNC was like the America I know. The RNC just…wasn’t. I thought ‘yeah, this is where we are, this is who we are.’ It’s funny that the word liberal has been so besmirched fort the past eight years that it caused a lot of people to lose hope. And to see people standing there looking at a candidate like Barack Obama, eighty-four-thousand people who felt disenfranchised, hopeless, powerless, and without a voice all of the sudden to be there and say ‘I believe, too.’ It was like a liberal revival. It was so exciting.