Anne Hathaway: The Idea of You star on sex scenes, ageism in Hollywood | Stellar

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Hollywood hasn’t always been a fairy tale for Anne Hathaway. Sure, her first film role in 2001’s The Princess Diaries made her a star, and she was only a few months into her 30s when she won an Oscar, but there was a time when the now 41-year-old seemingly could not escape criticism of her every move.

Two years prior to her Academy Award win in 2013 (for best supporting actress in the musical Les Misérables), she was panned as the ceremony’s co-host alongside James Franco; and when she did take to the stage to accept her own gold statuette, her acceptance speech (in particular, her proclamation that “it came true”) received widespread mockery.

Fuelled by the internet, a legion of so-called “Hathahaters” was born.

A retreat from public life may have helped but so, too, has her sheer talent.

Hathaway has never fallen out of favour with critics but more importantly, she says she has never fallen prey to the belief that she should dim her light.

“I do think there is a larger trend towards believing women are diminished the longer they have been alive, and I don’t agree with that,” Hathaway tells Stellar.

“I think you can be blooming until the moment you’re not here anymore. I think the story that we have been given is not for us. I think, moving forward, we have to write our own. We have to be discovering it.”

Growing older, she adds, is “a great time to figure out if you have another gear”.

And Hathaway – who is wearing an oversized purple blazer with power shoulders, dark nail polish and rings on every finger, and flashing that famous megawatt smile over a Zoom call – seems to have shifted into hers.

Whether she’s sitting front row at New York Fashion Week with US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour; reuniting with her co-stars Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep from the 2006 hit film The Devil Wears Prada at February’s SAG Awards in Los Angeles; or going viral in a video that recently resurfaced online of her telling a throng of overzealous fans in Italy to “calma, calma” (Italian for “calm”) outside a Valentino couture show in 2022, Hathaway is firmly back in the public consciousness.

The mother of two young sons, who is married to producer Adam Shulman, is also back onscreen in a new film that banks on her charm and cross-generational appeal.

In The Idea Of You, based on the best-selling 2017 novel by Robinne Lee, Hathaway stars as Solène, an art gallery owner and single mother, who – after a chance meeting at a music festival – begins a romance with a much younger man: a Harry Styles-esque boy-band singer played by British actor Nicholas Galitzine.

Hathaway tells Stellar it was her character’s life stage that drew her to the role, explaining, “She has experienced a really bad trauma to her trust and she’s at that point where I think she could become bitter, and negative about love.

And then the most unexpected thing happens to her, which is she finds someone without looking.

“She discovers kind of a new gear at a stage in her life where she’s told she’s going to disappear. And that felt very, very cool to me. I love the idea of these two people – that it’s the last thing either of them expect. But then they become the one thing each other needs.”

The character of Hayes – who fronts the fictional group August Moon – in The Idea Of You has drawn comparisons to Styles.

But what does Hathaway, also a producer on the movie, make of these? “You guys keep saying it,” she says of persistent media speculation.

“The author keeps saying it’s not!”

Joining Hathaway on the Zoom call, co-star Galitzine, 29, weighs in: “There are things in common [with Styles]. I would be lying if I didn’t say I looked at Harry as one of many references to help build this character.”

However, Hathaway offers: “During the audition process, which I can speak to as I’m a producer on the film, we saw people from all backgrounds.

“The idea was we weren’t looking for someone British. We were looking for Hayes Campbell. And if he happened to be British, that would be what Hayes Campbell would be in the film. And Nick was Hayes, so Hayes became British.”

The pair share some racy scenes and when it came to filming them, Hathaway says their approach was simple: “You can either lean in and laugh, or resist”.

“It’s really exciting when someone finds someone that they can be intimate with. ‘Intimacy’ isn’t just physical intimacy – you can find someone you can be intimate with your trust. And watching two people who have both had their trust taken advantage of discover that they can be safe and intimate in that way, with each other, in addition to getting to explore pleasure and friendship and humour and all of those really yummy things, those really romantic things, it got me really excited.”

The Idea Of You confronts the question of ageism through the 16-year age gap between Hathaway and Galitzine’s characters.

Aside from writing the book (which has been branded Harry Styles fan fiction) upon which the film is based, Robinne Lee is also an actor.

As such, Hathaway says, “I personally responded to the author’s desire to have an answer to the way she was being cast in roles. She found that in her 20s, she was being sent more complex roles where she was lots of things. By 40, she was only being sent ‘mum’ roles that were all drawn in the same way.”

So while it might be easy to dismiss the age difference between her character and her younger love interest (a narrative Hollywood doesn’t make an issue of when it’s an older man and a younger woman), Hathaway suggests there are far more complicated factors at play.

“Women over the age of 35 are having an intense emotional reaction to this movie,” she points out.

“There’s something that’s touching something very deep inside of us. Perhaps it’s a fear we’ve internalised, that we’re going to disappear while we are still alive.

“And this says no to that whole narrative. It’s a different kind of wish fulfilment. In my case, oh I want to be a princess! I want to work at this company!

“It’s I want to exist, and I want to feel love.”

The Idea Of You premieres May 2 on Prime Video.

Read the full interview with Anne Hathaway inside Stellar today. And for more from Stellar, listen to the podcast, Something To Talk About below:

Originally published as ‘I want to exist’: Anne Hathaway on ageism in Hollywood, racy scenes – and The Idea Of You