The comes a time in the career of any successful actor or actress when the term ‘Oscar moment’ gets mentioned. For Anne Hathaway, the child star of “The Princess Diaries” who grew up and became the star of hits “The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Dark Knight Rises”, that ‘moment’ may be now.
Her new film is “Les Miserables”, an adaptation of the stage musical which sees Hathaway play Fantine, a poverty –stricken factory worker thrown into unimaginably horrible circumstances to care for her child. It’s a musical that is famous around the world, but up until now no one has put it on film, and the actress found the process of filming (which involved singing live on set as opposed to miming to a track) very daunting. “Obviously I’d never sung on film live before” she explains, “and that was a really new thing to wrap my head around. I’m a musical theatre geek and I had been taking classes in musical theatre since I was very young, and I’m used to song interpretation, but I’m used to interpreting a song to resonate with how ever big an audience you’re performing to.”
Her character Fantine singings the song “I Dreamed a Dream”, possibly the most famous in the production and in all of musical theatre. How did she approach that huge responsibility? “The language of film is very different to the language of theatre, and so it’s so it was really exciting to take this iconic song that is so beloved and find a way to put it through the prism of film. That meant having to go very deep inside myself to some uncomfortable places but that’s what you do- that’s the jobs we remember and that’s what makes you grow.”
Finally, the role involved Hathaway cutting her long hair substantially short, something she was initially eager to do for real (as opposed to studio trickery). “I really did feel strongly that as much of the physical transformation that could be real ought to be real. At the time I hadn’t yet gotten engaged, and my now husband looked at me with a mixture of pride, joy and worry, and said ‘ok, without giving too much away about what’s coming in the next few months, how do you feel about being a short haired bride?’ and initially I went ‘NOOOO!’ (laughs). Eventually I thought ‘well I’ll be truthful to who I am when I get married- and who I am is an actor.”
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