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Anne Hathaway's Big Day

The award-winning actress discusses her starring role in the romantic drama One Day. logo
Anne Hathaway in One Day
(© Focus Features)
Anne Hathaway may have a shelf full of awards and countless nominations -- including a Drama Desk nod for the Public Theater's Twelfth Night -- but she still had to work hard to land her latest role as Emma Morley in Lone Scherfig's new film One Day, opening on August 19. The movie, adapted from the popular novel, begins with the story of Emma and Dexter (played by Jim Sturgess) on July 15th, 1988 with their graduation from university and follows their lives from friendship to love and beyond over the next 20 years, but always on the same day.

"I'd just finished Love and Other Drugs and I was in that place all actors go when they finish a play or a film where I was sure I'd never work again," she recalls. "And someone literally slipped me the script of One Day and said, 'You're not supposed to read this, but it's a really great part. It's set in England, and the director [Lone Scherfig] hasn't decided if she wants to meet with any American girls.' Then I found out that Lone was willing to meet with just one American girl and that was me."

Once she read the script, Hathaway immediately fell in love with the character of Emma. "She's deep and nuanced and intelligent and funny and inspiring and she was the most honestly drawn character that I'd met since Kim in Rachel Getting Married," says Hathaway. "I made that film in 2007 and it's 2011, so clearly they don't come around that often. So I went on a full scale attack to get into this film."

That so-called attack included a trip overseas to meet Scherfig, who had recently directed the Oscar-nominated An Education. "I flew to London and then proceeded to have the worst meeting of my life where I was just inarticulate, couldn't put two thoughts together, and was coming up with the most banal reasons why I should play Emma," says Hathaway. "Lone walked me home and when I was saying goodbye to her I got so terrified that I wasn't going to get the part, I just grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the names of a bunch of songs. I said, 'Look, I clearly didn't communicate to you what I hoped to today, but I feel like these songs can do it for me.' Lone went home and gave a listen to them and said, 'Could I hear more songs?' So I started sending her music, especially Bon Iver. There was 'Re: Stacks' and of course 'For Emma.'"

Hathaway has worked with many of the industry's most acclaimed directors, including Oscar winners Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) and Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married), and she has nothing but the highest praise for Scherfig. "Lone is one of the funniest people that I've ever met," says Hathaway. "But her humor catches you sideways. You never see her jokes coming, and that's the way that she approaches material, too. Nothing is obvious and she constantly surprised me."

Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway in One Day
(© Focus Features)
Indeed, Hathaway says Scherfig's guidance was crucial to getting her performance right. "I was very nervous about playing the role so I leaned really heavily on Lone emotionally in this movie," she says. "She was so there for me at every moment. She knew when to challenge me. She knew when to comfort me and she really knew how to bring Emma to the screen. It was difficult at times, like, not that we got into each other's faces or anything, but because I was passionate about Emma and she was passionate about Emma and the film. So, sometimes it took longer conversations to get to a place where we were both happy, but I'm so grateful to her for the way that she instructed me and guided me."

When asked if men and women could really be friends like Emma and Dex in the film, Hathaway replies, "I believe they can be best friends, but then the majority of my male friends are gay, she notes. "I think it's harder to be friends with a straight guy without having feelings if you're a single girl or if they're a single boy or actually if you're both single. When you are in a relationship, it's easier to keep your emotions from getting out of hand or messy. I'm really a one-man woman and I've been in a rock solid relationship with my best friend for the last three years, so I don't really look at other men that way. I'm terribly boring and loyal and true blue and all of that."

She's already at work on her next film project, Christopher Nolan's much anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, in which she plays Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) opposite Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne (aka Batman). "Even though Chris is making this billion dollar movie, he's really an alternative filmmaker and that's what makes him so wonderful," she says.

She also has her own film project in the works, in which she would play the legendary singer and actress Judy Garland. "We've taken some wonderful steps forward, and if things go well, this could actually happen soon," says Hathaway. "She was just the best, and there's never been anyone like her."

Of course, Hathaway would love to return to her adopted hometown of New York in the next year or two and hit the stage again. Among the stages roles she's set her cap for are Juliet and Joan of Arc. "I'd do all the classics that I'm right for," she says.

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