Despite her highly publicized personal trials, Anne Hathaway is emerging with more confidence both in her roles and in her life.
Though our interview has been planned for weeks and confirmed repeatedly by her publicist, it’s still something of a surprise when Anne Hathaway walks through the doors of the rustic New York cafe she’s chosen as our meeting place. It is less than a month since her highly publicized breakup with her boyfriend of four years—the man with whom she’d been house hunting, whom she seemed to think she’d marry—30-year-old Italian businessman Raffaello Follieri. And it’s less than three weeks since Follieri was arrested for allegedly scamming his investors by falsely claiming ties to the Vatican and placed in prison with a $21 million bail on charges that could result in a life sentence.
Meanwhile, the press is having a field day. Headlines like THE PRINCESS AND THE CON MAN, blinded by love and burned by a loser coat the newsstands. The New York Post publishes regular reports from “friends” of Follieri about how Hathaway sold him out to the Feds. Even the ever sensitive Donald Trump has issued a statement to ABC News criticizing the actress for failing to stand by her man; he then appeared on Access Hollywood, sneering: “So when he had plenty of money, she liked him, but after that, not as good, right?” Perhaps the worst zinger came from Newsweek, of all places, which titled its report WHAT SHOULD HAVE TIPPED ANNE HATHAWAY THAT HER EX-BOYFRIEND WAS BIG TROUBLE? A—CROOKED DAD. B—BAD CHECKS. C—ALLEGED POPE SCAM. D—ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Ditching an interview in favor of hiding under her covers would not have been the most unreasonable of actions. Nevertheless, when Hathaway appears, precisely on time, she immediately launches into peppy and charming small talk about the New York Times crossword puzzle under her arm and the bulky, antiquated tape recorder I’ve placed on the table. “Oh, hello, 1992!” she chuckles delightedly.
But all the cheerful banter in the world could not obscure Hathaway’s tired eyes and drawn face, which she has not attempted to mask with makeup. Her hair is pulled back, and her figure, which for several weeks has appeared on the big screen in Get Smart in all its solid, curvaceous glory, is now more slender than ever, resembling something closer to a ballerina’s form than that of an ass-kicking secret agent. She is dressed in jeans and a short-sleeve plaid blouse, and around her neck she wears a pendant containing an antique lottery ticket. “I figure if it was a winning ticket, it would not have been discarded,” she says, “so essentially I walk around with an unlucky lottery ticket around my neck.” The overall effect is, well, heartbreaking. But there is also something very beautiful about Hathaway in this state, a delicateness not normally associated with the 25-year-old actress. On film, her face, with its prominent features—dark eyebrows, bulbous lips—can veer between the gorgeous and the awkward. Today, her features look almost tiny, mousy. Even her mouth, often compared to Julia Roberts’s when it breaks into a broad smile, looks dainty, perhaps because the broad smiles are in short supply.
Because the elephant in this room is threatening to crush us from the get-go, I mention that I’m a bit surprised she showed up. “Right now I don’t have the wherewithal to be anything except professional,” she admits wanly. “As soon as I found out about the arrest, I had to get on a plane to Mexico to do a press tour for Get Smart. And then I spent a week in shock at a friend’s house. And then I had to go back and do more press, and I haven’t stopped since.
“At different stages of my life, I’ve felt I’ve been two ages simultaneously,” she continues in a slow, measured cadence. “I’d be a professional working adult and also a typical 13-year-old. Right now I have the distinct feeling that I’m two ages again, and the older part of me that I relied on many times in the past in difficult moments, that’s the part that got me here today. That’s the part that says, ‘You do your job, you keep your head up.’”
Hathaway declines to discuss specifics about Follieri, the scandal, what she knew or when she knew it—there have been reports that investigators have approached her for information, and she could be called as a trial witness—but she is candid about what it feels like to have your personal life abruptly implode. She’s been staying at a friend’s downtown since moving out of the midtown apartment she shared with Follieri, which was searched by the authorities. “I have to find a place to live,” she says numbly. But then her voice catches with emotion and pools form at the corners of her eyes as she struggles to articulate her messy mix of feelings. “It’s a situation where the rug was pulled out from under me all of a sudden,” she says. “But just as suddenly, my friends threw another rug back under me. One said, ‘Go stay at my house.’ And Steve Carell [her Get Smart costar] stepped up for me during an interview when someone asked a question [about it]. He said, ‘At some point you’re going to have to talk about this time in your life. You don’t have to do it this week. I’ll take care of anything that comes your way.’
“I’ve been shown such kindness,” she continues, wiping at an errant tear. “Not everyone gets that. A lot of people go through tough times alone.”
Hathaway has less to say about the beating she’s taking in the press. “What’s going on is so much bigger than all that,” she says. “Though it’s crazy that things like that Newsweek article have become small stuff.” One eyebrow arches with ironic resignation. She declares that she has no desire to correct any of the misinformation that’s padded much of the scandal coverage, though a week later she sends an e-mail addressing a recent Page Six item: “I did not abandon my dog, Esmeralda, and no one had to ask me to go and get her. In fact, the day before that particular news item broke I had arranged to have her picked up and taken to my parents’ apartment.” (Hathaway’s mother, a former stage actress, and her father, a lawyer, also live in Manhattan.) “My dad likes telling the story,” the e-mail continues, “in a funny/sad sort of way, that Esmeralda was at [their] house watching herself on Access Hollywood as Nancy O’Dell or someone asked, ‘Where in the world is Esmeralda?’”
Indeed, even as she struggles to force down a third of the omelet she’s ordered, Hathaway’s sadness is laced with a rather endearing wryness at the melodrama of it all. On the table, underneath her newspaper, sits a copy of Gandhi’s autobiography. “I’m reading that and When Things Fall Apart. Go figure,” she says. Though she recognizes the inanity of the media reports that attempt to villainize her, it’s clearly difficult for Hathaway to cut herself some slack. She’s prone to being hard on herself, to holding herself to high standards, to fretting. “On the scale of someone who’s really laid-back about stuff and someone who worries a lot,” she notes, “I fall more towards the latter.”
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the whole affair is that it came in the midst of an emotional growth spurt for the Brooklyn-born, New Jersey–bred actress. No one is more cognizant of this shift than Hathaway, who speaks frankly about how she didn’t always carry off her ambition with grace. “I was not the most fun girl to be around,” she says about her time filming The Princess Diaries 2 at age 21. “It was a very young moment for me. God love the patient, wonderful Garry Marshall.” Marshall, who directed the original and