It’s been 12 years since Anne Hathaway asked how to spell Gabbana, nabbed a Harry Potter advance copy, and learned the true importance of cerulean as the “fetching” Andy Sachs at the fictional Vogue-esque Runway magazine in The Devil Wears Prada. Now, the actress is back in New York’s high fashion world, this time portraying a spoiled actress attending the famed Met Gala and donning the heistworthy $150 million diamond necklace at the center of Ocean’s 8, out in theaters June 8.
Hathaway, 35, talked to EW about how good it felt to play bad, working with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina, and whether we’ll ever see her return as Princess Mia.
What did you enjoy about playing the narcissistic actress Daphne in Ocean’s 8?
ANNE HATHAWAY: I just enjoyed cursing so much. I enjoyed the selfishness of her, but what I really enjoyed was getting to figure out where her blind spots were…. She’s working so hard to be refined and sophisticated, but she just so clearly isn’t that. I feel like Daphne is my shadow self, and I feel like you can either use fame to do good for other people and use it to get nice restaurant reservations for yourself, or it can really take over and become your entire identity. I think there are people who want to be actresses because they want to be artists and then there’s people who want to be actresses because they want to be famous, and I think Daphne’s savvy enough to understand that you can’t say that out loud, but she definitely wants to be famous. [Laughs] She’s enjoying it and it brings her a great sense of self-worth and identity and she believes that’s who she always truly was.
How was it working with the powerhouse cast?
The only person I spent any real time with was Helena [Bonham Carter]. By the end of it, we were all really chummy, and it’s just continued after the movie. We’re all really friends and there for each other. If someone — myself included — is going through something, everyone has everyone’s back and everyone’s always encouraging each other. I don’t think any of us knew that was going to happen, but it’s really genuine and — gosh, I don’t want to gush too much, but it is reshaping the way I think about movies and how to be in a cast.
Daphne has a meltdown during a dress fitting, and Helena’s fashion-designer character Rose soothes her by saying she has the “best neck in the business.” Was there some reality to those scenes?
It was a combination of the way I sometimes felt in fittings and also some of the ridiculous things I’ve either had said to me or have overheard said to other people to build up your confidence. The most ridiculous one I ever heard was somebody going — not to me — “Oh my God, you have such a fierce armpit.” The level of ego-stroking and ego-inflating that can occur is so ridiculous. It was so much fun to poke fun at that.
Daphne’s the opposite of your Devil Wears Prada character, the tormented, naïve fashion assistant Andy, but they’re two characters that inhabit the same Vogue-esque world. How did it feel to return to that environment?
Well, I hadn’t thought about it like that but some of my favorite films that I’ve gotten to do have had a fashion element to them, and I really enjoy fashion and I enjoy the creativity of it. And I enjoy movies in which everyone looks great and put together. I love movies from the 1960s that celebrated the same thing, especially in comedies. It adds a wonderful dizziness to everything. I think maybe one of the nice parallels that’s between the two of them is in The Devil Wears Prada, she realizes that dizziness comes from a ton of hard work and intelligence and creativity from a lot of people, and I think with Helena’s character, you see her put all of that heart and soul and talent into it as well. Can you imagine Andy interviewing Daphne? That would be so fun and trainwreck-y.
There’s a pressure that if Ocean’s 8 doesn’t perform at the box office, people might not support female-driven movies. Did you feel that?
I feel that with every film that I’m in because whether I’m one of eight or the only woman in the cast, I feel I’m always repping something bigger than myself. I imagine most actresses feel that way. One of the things that gives me heart is there are a lot of female-driven comedies coming out this summer. You have Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon [in The Spy Who Dumped Me], you have the cast of Crazy Rich Asians, you have us, Amy Schumer was just in a comedy [I Feel Pretty], so I’m seeing a lot of action in that arena. Wonder Woman has been such a game changer for so many of us. Also with Time’s Up, there’s a real impetus within the industry to make these movies and prioritize these, which is really exciting. I don’t know if it’s going to continue. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure that it does, and it does require the audience showing up. This aspect of moviemaking does have a political component in that if you believe in gender equality, you have to support female-driven movies because they’re not supported equally in Hollywood yet, and the only thing that’s going to get them equally supported is if they do really well at the box office.
You took some time away from acting after you had your son. Now that you’re back, you seem like you’re having fun with your projects.
First of all, have you seen the casts that I’m in? How can you not be having fun with them?! It’s a joy, but something about motherhood has allowed me to find and prioritize my chill, and going onto set with seven astonishing women really made me want to not leave that chill. I so didn’t want to be the one that messed it up by getting nervous, so I feel like my son brought about this new approach and working with these women reinforced it, and it’s feeling good, and I am having fun, and it turns out you can still do good work while having a whole lot of fun.
What projects are drawing your interest and what have you been able to do that you hadn’t been able to do before?
Right now, I feel like there’s great opportunity in pursuing the things that interest you as an individual and as an artist, because there [are] no guarantees out there about what’s going to connect with audiences. There’s no more sure bets and certain risks are paying off that people don’t expect, so people are actually willing to take risks. I’d like to think that right now, the projects that I’m doing have elements of that because I like to tell good stories. I like to make stories that make people feel good but I also like to make movies that make people think. For me, it’s not that I’m striving to make any one type of movie, I’m trying to make movies that people want to watch again and again, either because it’s a puzzle they have to figure out or they’ve had a hard day and this movie just wraps around them. I do think that a lot of projects I’m doing right now share that quality, and that they’re movies to live with, at least that’s my intention.
That’s why there’s so much love for The Devil Wears Prada or even The Princess Diaries. These are the movies that people go back to.
And that’s amazing, and that makes me feel so, so happy because I’ve always hoped I [could] manage to have a career as a lifer actress, and the idea that you can develop a relationship with audiences over time and movies that stick…. The Princess Diaries came out over 20 years ago, and I’m just so happy that it occupies a space in people’s lives that makes them happy.
Could we ever see you return to Princess Mia?
Yeah, I’m game if Disney’s game. I think there’s more life in that story. We were talking about it and then we lost [director] Garry Marshall, and I think we all just needed to walk away for a while because the grief was too fresh. We haven’t restarted the conversation yet but I still have hope in my heart that it could happen.
Is there a possibility we will see you ladies reunite for Ocean’s 9 and 10? If so, what would you like to see from that?
That rests in the wallets of the audience. I hope so! I think that there are so many incredible actresses and women out there who have so much to show. Perhaps they’ve never had the opportunity. I know I got the chance to show a lot more than I ever had with this part so I hope that we get to make a lot more of these and we give a lot of other women time to shine.