Anne Hathaway's personal life hasn't been a fairy tale lately. About to hit the screen with a dark, riveting turn in ''Rachel Getting Married,'' the actress talks about taking risks, growing up, and getting her priorities straight

Anne Hathaway sits in the corner of a Toronto restaurant, poring over a New York Times crossword puzzle. ”Feel free to contribute!” she says, sliding over to make room for her interviewer. Tonight, Hathaway’s new movie, Rachel Getting Married, will have its splashy North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and the actress will don a fancy frock to do the red-carpet walk-and-wave. But at the moment, she’s enjoying sitting here in jeans and a plaid shirt, sharpening her puzzle-solving skills and chatting about the wild times she had last night. ”I ordered a simple meal, downloaded some episodes of The Tudors, and went to bed nice and early,” she says. Her smile, warm and ear-to-ear, is the same one that made her the idol of the elementary school set when it first flashed across the screen in The Princess Diaries seven years ago. ”You know those girls that, like, go out?” she says, sipping a soy latte. ”I’m just not confident enough to do that. I’m not the sort of girl that will throw on a short skirt and tease her hair up. I feel uncomfortable with attention. Truly, I am a wallflower by nature.” Hathaway’s preference for a low-key life has made her the rare young star not regularly pummeled by the Perez Hiltons of the world — until recently. ”Obviously,” she says, ”this summer was a little different.”

For months, Hathaway’s private life has played out in the tabloids like a serialized melodrama — The Princess Diaries gone horribly wrong. In June, she broke up with her boyfriend of nearly four years, Raffaello Follieri, an aspiring real estate mogul from Italy. Days later, he was arrested, thrown in a New York City jail, and charged with swindling investors of millions while posing as an agent of the Vatican. In the weeks that followed, the press giddily churned out details from the case — from rumors that Hathaway herself lured her ex into the FBI’s clutches, to reports of the Bureau seizing her journals along with thousands of dollars in jewelry that Follieri had given her.

In a cruel case of bad timing, all this has unfolded at a moment when Hathaway can’t hide at home, burrowed under the covers. The actress spent much of the summer traveling the world on a publicity tour for Get Smart. Now she’s promoting Jonathan Demme‘s Rachel Getting Married, an edgy, intimate indie that needs Hathaway’s support to get the attention it deserves when it hits theaters Oct. 3. Sporting harsh black eyeliner and a jagged bob, Hathaway stars as a recovering drug addict released from rehab to attend — and possibly destroy — her sister’s wedding. Since playing at the Venice and Toronto festivals, the movie has earned the 25-year-old actress the kind of reviews that precede Oscar nominations. Owen Gleiberman, for one, wrote from Toronto: ”Hathaway is a revelation: She shoots far beyond giving a damn about her ‘likability’ in a performance as scalding as it is controlled. She makes toxic narcissism magnetic.” (See his complete post about the film on PopWatch.) For Hathaway, the film is a realization of…just about everything. ”I feel like there’s a clear point in my life before this movie and after this movie,” she says. ”I’m a fairly guarded person and I can be pretty insecure when I first meet people. But Jonathan got me. He became my friend and mentor.” When Hathaway talks about Demme, she becomes intensely earnest: ”I’ve had the most honest artistic experience of my life. And I will spend, minimum, 20 years searching for another one of these.”

NEXT PAGE: ”It’s funny that [the Follieri scandal] has become a part of my story because it’s not something that I’d like to talk about all the time. I have to be very careful because I don’t want it to define me. And I don’t want to subconsciously exploit it.”

Rachel Getting Married
  • Movie
  • 113 minutes