After a string of serious movies — including Interstellar and her Oscar-winning turn in Les Misérables — Anne Hathaway has returned to the genre that helped launched her career: the comedy. She plays fashion website founder Jules Ostin Nancy Meyers’ The Intern, a comedy about Hathaway’s successful entrepreneur and the caring friendship she forms with her “senior intern,” a widower named Ben (Robert De Niro).
“She’s juggling a million things … she seems to be losing grip on all these things she’s worked so hard for,” says Hathaway of her character. “And then something wonderful happens. The last person she thinks can help her comes into her life. The person who she thought was going to be a burden comes in, and just by listening to her, just by being compassionate, letting her go at her own pace and supporting her, allows her to blossom.” Here, Hathaway, 32, chats about letting go, landing a Nancy Meyers movie, and her relationship with the co-star she now calls a “sweetie.”
What was working with Nancy Meyers like? Was doing a movie with her a bucket list item for you?
Absolutely. I love rom-coms, and I was bummed that they sort of stopped making them around the time I was old enough to be in them. But at the same time I so respected the fact that the genre kind of needed an update. But you know, even when rom-coms were at their hey-day, very few people did it at the level of Nancy Meyers. This was the third time I had auditioned for her.
Really? You’ve auditioned for her twice before?
There were two other movies that I had auditioned for her. I auditioned for The Holiday, and I auditioned for the daughter part in What Women Want. The first time I met Nancy, I was 17. Those movies didn’t go my way, but this one did. I was very psyched about it.
The main focus of the film is how well you and De Niro play off each other on-screen. Did that chemistry come naturally?
You know, I’m so fond of Bob. I wasn’t expecting living legend Robert De Niro to be such a sweetie. I’m very affectionate towards him. But, you know, it’s Bob. There weren’t a million jokes in between shots, but as soon as the cameras stopped rolling we were both really loose around each other. It was a real thrill, at least from my perspective.
Traditional gender roles are reversed, and Jules is the company’s CEO, as well as the boss. If you had some sort of company in real life, would you bring on Bob as an employee?
Definitely. Oh my god, I’d be working for him. Like we did this photo shoot for the poster, and I drove into the city for it. And then we saw each other, we hugged, and he’s asked, “How are you? What was your morning like?” and I’m like, “I’m good, you know, drove into the city, not too much traffic, the coffee tasted good, all in all a pretty good morning, how was yours?” And he’s like “I met with these investors about this hotel I’m building.” [Laughs] That is our relationship. He is just this titan in all aspects of his life. If I were his boss, I’d be the queen of the universe because that’s the only way I could have more power then him.
How did it feel to go from this place where you’re in a spaceship set and wearing a space suit on Interstellar, to a working on a movie where your character works at a Pinterest-perfect company and wears beautiful designer clothes?
It was so much fun to figure out Jules’ style, and when we finally settled on ‘Punk-rock Katherine Hepburn,’ it was a really happy day. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when somebody has a wardrobe, where everything is heightened, and they have a different outfit in every single scene. Here, I’m playing a woman and I’m trying to ground her. So I asked that that we basically pick out her closet from the perspective of what she could afford and the size of her closet. And once we figured out the pieces that worked, we had a lot of fun. I was really appreciative that they respected that reality I was trying to bring in.
The Intern has the designer clothes, the relationships and the drama of trying to have it all — all the components of a certain type of film. What do you say to the people who will immediately dismiss this as a chick flick?
I’m not just worried about people that might dismiss it as a chick flick, I’m also worried about people that might look at it and say “Oh, that looks sweet.” People are so snarky nowadays, and I feel that they might roll their eyes or mouth vomit or something. I just have to say, trust Nancy. Even if you don’t trust me, trust her. Trust Bob. They’re the real deal. And let me tell you something. The reason I made this movie was that [my husband and I] were visiting my in-laws and we couldn’t see any movies that we were thrilled about. And then I read this script and I thought for many different reasons, we’d all have a screamingly good time seeing this movie. And I could see this with my friends and I could see this movie with my parents. People are going to do what they’re going to do, but the comedy is genuine, and laughing is a singularly pleasurable experience.