Anne Hathaway began her film career in 2001 with starring roles in two very different movies: Disney's The Princess Diaries, and the religious themed The Other Side of Heaven. Her choice of roles has continued to be somewhat a somewhat eclectic mix of the fairy tale (Ella Enchanted, Alice In Wonderland) and the real worlds (Brokeback Mountain, Devil Wears Prada, Rachel Getting Married). In her latest film Love And Other Drugs, Anne plays a patient toying with the affections of a Pharamceutical Salesmen (Jake Gyllenhaal), often without anything in the way of clothes. Ms. Hathaway recently sat down for an interviw in Los Angeles with Buzzine's Emmanuel Itier...
Emmanuel Itier: You are naked on the Love And Other Drugs poster and naked in the movie. Did you see nudity as a selling point for this movie?
Anne Hathaway: I’ve had a chip on my shoulder since The Princess Diaries when my nude scene was cut [laughs], so I’ve been trying to make up for lost time ever since then.
EI: Your chemistry with Jake [Gyllenhaal] was great in the film. It was really believable, and it's hard for most actors in romantic films to pull off that kind of believability. Your vulnerability was also amazing on screen. Can you talk about working together with Jake, and did that chemistry with the two of you start as far back as your appearance together in Brokeback Mountain?
AH: I have yet to become vulnerable. [Laughs] No, seriously. I never felt vulnerable with Jake. I understood that our characters went to vulnerable places. We all really supported each other, and I felt really supported by these two men [Jake and co-writer/director Ed Zwick], so if there was vulnerability, it was tempered by love and support.
EI: As an actress, do you ever feel vulnerable?
AH: Sure. Every time you act, it’s vulnerable...if you are telling a love story, if you are taking your clothes off, if you're making a comedy–it’s all putting yourself out there for people, hopefully, to enjoy. With Brokeback Mountain, we had chemistry, and Jake was someone I really enjoyed spending time with, and we’re very bonded over that experience.
EI: This film touches a lot on the subject of unconditional love. How true to life in today’s world do you think it is?
AH: Is this an accurate portrayal of love? I saw the final cut of the film with an audience two nights ago, and I am so proud of the fact that I believe in their love story. Whether or not it’s the definitive exploration of unconditional love, I don’t know. I don’t know enough about the world, and I don’t know enough about film to say that. However, I do know that it is very hard to believe in on-screen love, and I am pumped that I could believe in ours.
EI: The length of time your characters spent unclothed in this movie posed an interesting challenge because, most often in films, the intimate scenes are rather quick. The fact that you were able to do humor while you were naked was also something brave. Do you agree?
AH: Is it brave because we were laughing while we were naked, and things jiggle? [Laughs]
EI: Jake says very little jiggles on you.
AH: Oh yeah, right, because it’s really moving on Jake. I always wanted one of Jake’s biceps for Halloween. [Laughs]
EI: Because of the fact that you spend so much time in this movie naked, does it become like another wardrobe? Also, is it an additional challenge because of the humor? Usually, when you are naked on camera, these scenes are very serious, so the fact that you get to have fun with the experience...
AH: One of the things we talked about early on is that, when you are in the early throes of passion and lust and love, you spend a lot of time unclothed, and the beginning of our characters' relationship is in that moment. And then, obviously, we go into a deeper place of love and companionship and intimacy. It’s so funny that you said that the intimate scenes usually go quick, because I think there are many definitions of intimacy. I would say that the sex scenes go rather quick, but the things that make our scenes so intimate is that we stay in them so long. I haven’t gotten a complaint so far. By the time we got to those scenes, we really worked everything through--there was little to deal with beyond the normal.
EI: Were there other people naked on the set?
AH: Everyone – all of Pittsburgh got naked for us. [Laughs]
EI: What research did you do for the illness in the film–Stage One of Parkinson’s Disease?
AH: I got a lot of help from Ed, getting started with my research on early onset Parkinson’s Disease. Ed turned me on to the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, and they were instrumental in putting me in touch with a few people who had been diagnosed around the age that my character had been diagnosed. One of those women is actually in the film. Lucy [Roucis]--the woman at the Parkinson’s convention with the dark hair who is incredibly funny--is one of the key people I talked to. She actually had a big influence on the film. Another one, Maureen, had a big impact.
EI: What else happened with the research?
AH: Maureen was very generous and took me to a few support groups. I was a little nervous. I had gone to support groups for Rachel Getting Married, but this one felt a bit different. I talked openly about the fact that, like many people, I had experiences with addiction in my life and I’ve never known anyone who had Parkinson’s Disease, and I have never had it myself, so I was really coming at it from total ignorance. I was anticipating a bit of resistance from the people in the support groups, and I was met with absolute openness and warmth. People wanted to share their stories. People were excited because Parkinson’s is a very, very insidious disease, but it doesn’t get a lot of attention. Everyone sat there and said, "Thank God for Michael J. Fox, because I don’t think anyone would know anything without his advocacy."
EI: What else did they do for you?
AH: They shared their stories with me, and they shared their fears, they shared their anxieties, and they shared their triumphs. I also spoke with neurologists, and what became clear to me is that Stage One early onset Parkinson’s Disease is about good days and bad days, and they talked about that a lot, and we wanted to make sure that we showed the bad days honestly on screen. But so much of it is about anxiety--anxiety about the future, learning to understand what it is that’s happening to your body, and through my research, I realized it was so important to immerse Maggie in the psychological trauma of her diagnosis, and she is caught up in a world where she is her own disease, and throughout the course of the film, she learns to accept it. She even has that wonderful line in the film: "Parkinson’s isn’t my life; I have Parkinson’s--why does it have to be my life?" It was an amazing world that was opened up to me. I also read everything Michael J. Fox has written or said.
EI: Are you going to continue your support of Parkinson’s Disease in some way?
AH: Oh, yes. I’m actually hosting a screening soon to benefit the American Parkinson’s Association.
EI: This film is such an interesting take on modern love. What is your take on modern love and finding your true love? And what is going on with Jake and country singer Taylor Swift?
AH: Hey, I have been Jake’s on-screen love interest for years, all right? You keep the conversation to me and only me. [Laughs] Otherwise, I am going to get nasty. Don’t get Ella Enchanted pissed off; I’m not that obedient.
EI: Okay, can you just riff on about love for a bit?
AH: I think love is everything. Most people want love. The journey is sometimes really rocky to find it, and it’s an exploration and an adventure always, and that’s one of the most wonderful parts of being alive and one of the worst parts of being alive--when it doesn’t go well. You mentioned modern love, and I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but I love it when a movie reminds you of your favorite love songs, and this movie does that for me. It’s great when your life reminds you of love songs. It’s an incredibly intoxicating feeling--that initial rush--and then, as you spend more time and it deepens, it becomes something else entirely–it becomes all the epic things that the world is made up of. At least that’s what my experience has been.
EI: What attracted you to the role of Maggie?
AH: I was so drawn to Maggie. I was so drawn to her rhythm, and I was so in awe of what she was going through and the way she was handling it--the way she was handling her diagnosis was completely understandable, with anger, denial, frustration, vulnerability, self-medication, and she’s an intelligent girl. It made sense to me that she would be getting it right at times, and sometimes it would be a real struggle for her. I thought there was so much potential in the story. But for me, it was Maggie. And then, of course, when I started imagining her with Jake, it became intoxicating.
EI: Tell me more about what drew you to the movie...
AH: The movie is about what it takes to let love in. Love is hard work and it’s scary, and it’s all totally worth it.
EI: Can you talk about the music of the ‘90s that's played throughout the film?
AH: I suggested lots of bands, and Ed didn’t listen to me at all. I made tons of suggestions.
EI: You look gorgeous in those overalls, which are not usually very flattering.
AH: Thank you very much. I am very proud of those overalls.
EI: Can you comment about the recent passing of Jill Clayburgh, who played Jake’s mom in the movie?
AH: She and George Segal, as Jake’s parents, set his character so beautifully with their performances because he understood the world in which he came from, who he was raised by. Their performances were invaluable, and I’m sure speak for all of us in saying our prayers and best wishes go out to Jill’s family.
New Regency Productions' Love and Other Drugs is in theaters now.