Arts News

One (gay) day with Anne Hathaway

The actress talks gay ‘pod,’ her new romantic drama and her Catwoman role

Gays adore Anne Hathaway for more than her sweetheart sensibility and frumpy-to-fashionable underdog role in The Devil Wears Prada. She’s practically an honorary member of the community, contributing to the “It Gets Better” project, receiving an award from the Human Rights Campaign and quitting Catholicism for her gay brother.

And then consider the super gay trajectory of her career: Brokeback Mountain and, as reported, an upcoming role as Judy Garland in the gay icon’s biopic and a stint on Glee, as Kurt’s lesbian aunt.

Hathaway is cast as Emma Morley in her latest movie, the lovely screen adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestselling novel One Day, which chronicles her relationship with Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess of Across the Universe) on the same day every year for two decades.

The day after the premiere in New York City, the actress cheerfully breezes into a suite at the Waldorf Astoria, appearing so tiny you could put her in your pocket. And lesbians everywhere just might want to after seeing her vacuum-sealed in a vinyl cat suit for The Dark Knight Rises, which she’s currently filming. When Hathaway sits down, she’s her usual bubbly self, discussing the most significant day in her life, her upcoming role as Catwoman (as much as she can, anyway) and the enduring power of love for all people.

Even though this is a story about a straight couple, how do you think it can resonate with 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, and like I said, that’s universal — gay, straight, questioning, whatever you are.

Do you know a gay couple that has that type of enduring relationship like Emma and Dexter?

Oh my god, yes — I went to Vassar! I have like a pod now, and we’ve all been in each other’s lives for 10 years — and they don’t admit it, but I have gay friends that I think are secretly in love with each other.

What can people take away from One Day?

It’s up there with the classic love stories. It requires you to open your heart and feel, and a lot of movies don’t mind if you feel. I personally think there are few things more satisfying in life than crying in a dark room with strangers. That sounds a little funny, but go to see One Day at 4 o’clock on a Wednesday and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Emma’s arc follows her through many years, from college to potential motherhood. What about her did you cling to throughout all those years?

The book! I clung to the book, tightly. (Laughs) The thing that I clung to about Emma was that she’s a survivor. She is somebody who gets up when you knock her down, she is somebody who wants to grow; she’s somebody who wants to be her best self, she’s somebody who, contrary to what she might profess, believes that things are going to turn out OK.

How did you bring Emma to life?

The accent was key. It informs so much about Emma and Dexter’s relationship that we don’t necessarily talk about in the movie.

To understand her education, one of the things I did was I tried to read as many books that David mentions by name in the novel, but I’m a really, really good reader and they were a little arduous. (Laughs) I much preferred Dexter’s (reading material), like The Face magazine. And then I just went to England as early as I could and went up to every single person that I could meet from Yorkshire and asked them as many questions as I could.

Were you familiar with the book before you got the part? 

I was sent the script first and then, as soon as I read the script, I was deeply in love with it, and then I read the book and I fell even more deeply in love with the whole idea.

Do you think if Emma and Dexter had hooked up in the early days their relationship would have lasted as long?

No, not at all. Definitely not. It’s one of the bittersweet parts of the story — they couldn’t have gotten together a day before they do.

Emma and Dexter change from year to year, but there’s still something about them that stays the same. What about you do you see changing most from year to year? And what is something that always 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, funny enough, become more trusting, but I trust fewer people. The people that I do trust, it’s gone much deeper. What stays the same? I’m a really curious person. I believe that imagination is not something you grow out of, and I find that stays the same. Oh, and I love books!

How quickly did you and Jim click? 

It’s very hard not to get along with Jim. If you don’t get along with Jim, there’s something seriously wrong with you. 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, they peer deep, deep, deep into your eyes and they think they’re talking to your soul but really they’re just looking kind of bugged out and they just shake you a little bit and describe their love for this person? That happened to me when I told people I was working with Jim, so I knew I was going to be meeting someone pretty awesome. And he did not disappoint. Now I’m one of those “bugged out, I’m gonna take you and tell you to like Jim Sturgess!” people.

Talk about the costuming in the movie.

In the Persian scenes, everything I wore was vintage or recreated from vintage and the look was informed by the book. You know, 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. I don’t know how they did it. They literally spun gold from pennies.

Who are your favorite designers?

My favorite designers are Valentino, of course, and Isabel Marant, Vivienne Westwood … gosh there’s so many, and Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Thank you so much for giving us Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. It’s been a highlight of this new decade!

You really had to convince director Lone Scherfig to cast you in this film. What was the casting process like for The Dark Knight Rises, and how would you describe your interpretation of your character in it, Selina Kyle?

I can’t talk about the interpretation, because that is just a hermetically sealed secret … I mean, if you want to take on (director) Chris Nolan, you’re more than welcome to, but I’m intimidated. But the process for getting Dark Knight Rises was: Chris met with a bunch of girls and then he called the list down to do screen tests, so everyone with an XX chromosome in Hollywood was just literally sitting on pins and needles for three-and-a-half months, and then I understood he screen tested a few of us. I felt bad because we tested, I think, on Thursday and the Golden Globes was that Sunday — and I didn’t mean to, but wherever I went that whole weekend I just kept bumping into Chris and I’m like, “I swear I’m not stalking you!”

A few days later I was back in Brooklyn, and my manager called me and I answered the phone and she goes, “Meow.” And I was like, “Haha! Oh no, wait! Really?!” And she said, “Yes!” One of the best days in my life. And I really should know that date. January … something. (Laughs)

Do you believe in a soul mate? Of course I do. What a drab life you would have if you didn’t. I don’t know that I necessarily believe that traditional romantic view that there’s one person out there for everyone. I think that we have many soul mates. But I think there is probably one soul out there that lights up your soul more than any other one, and I think that’s just what a soul mate is — someone who lights you up and who you light up in return.

But traditionally, it’s said that we only have one soul mate and if we don’t meet them, we’ll never be satisfied. That’s like the most saddest thing ever! So, no! The idea of having a soul mate is truthful, but to limit it to one is a mistake. And by the way, my friends are my soul mates. My dog is my fucking soul mate!

Do you have a date that’s as significant as the one in the book?

Aug. 3, 2001. That’s when Princess Diaries came out, and that date changed my life. Every Aug. 3 for the past 10 years, I just give thanks to the universe — a big, big openhearted thank you — because that was the day that my dreams came true for me. There’s a lot of aspects to my life that are very real, but there are a lot of aspects to my life that are very fairy tale, and that was the day when my fairy tale started. How embarrassing would it be if it were actually Aug. 5? (Laughs)

Chris Azzopardi

Chris Azzopardi is the editorial director of Pride Source Media Group and Q Syndicate. He has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey, and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ, and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.

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