Anne Hathaway is a Hollywood icon. Love her or hate her, you have to admit that the Princess Diaries star has impressive range as an actress, and also has a mean set of pipes. This celeb has been as loved as she has been reviled, but it’s undeniable that only a star as bright as Hathaway could elicit such strong — and such polarizing — reactions from fans and from critics alike.
Hathaway has been gracing screens for decades now, and she has blossomed in front of fans’ eyes. From her early days on the short-lived television show Get Real to winning an Oscar for her role in Les Misérables, the trajectory of Hathaway’s career has been stunning, to say the least. As much as her career has grown though, Hathaway has grown and evolved even more in her personal life. The actress has faced a lot of downs, and it’s time to take a closer look at her transformation. Her life and career are so fascinating that you might be tempted to yell "shut up," a la Anne Hathaway in her iconic role in The Princess Diaries.
Even as a child, Anne Hathaway was determined to be independent
Anne Hathaway always seems to carry herself with dignity and grace, and she also seems to be determined to do her own thing. It turns out that this staunch independence isn’t something that she acquired after achieving Hollywood superstardom, but is actually something that has been part of her personality ever since she was a little girl.
In 2004, Blackfilm.com asked Hathaway if she was obedient as a little girl like her character in Ella Enchanted was or if she was a bit more on the rebellious side. "No, I was a very independent little girl," she said. "If I felt my parents made sense in what they were asking me to do, I wouldn’t just challenge them to be challenging them. But if I felt, if I disagreed with something, I was always encouraged to argue my stance, and even if I lost I would usually go off and do my own thing anyway."
That independence would lay the groundwork for Hathaway’s future career.
Anne Hathaway struggled with self-hate growing up
Even though Anne Hathaway seems to exude self-confidence, that confidence hasn’t always come easily. The actress had self-esteem issues as a girl and as a young woman. When speaking of her happy life as an adult, Hathaway told ABC News that there was a time when she couldn’t have even imagined an existence filled with so much joy. "I had just too many issues," she said in 2017, describing the "pungent unhappiness" that was once a defining characteristic of her life.
She added, "I disliked myself so intensely. It was just a mindset. I didn’t know how to love myself. I didn’t know how to love anybody."
Hathaway said that part of her unhappiness was that she was lonely and didn’t know how to let people in. Fortunately, she was able to turn to her love of acting to help her become more comfortable."I loved being on a stage because I knew what was going to happen next. That I could dance with," she said. "The thing that felt impossible at the time was actually being present and being here."
When she was 16, Anne Hathaway moved to Los Angeles to chase her dreams
In spite of her unhappiness, Anne Hathaway still clung to a dream to act, and she did everything she could to make that happen. At the age of 16, she moved all the way across the country from New Jersey to Los Angeles, Calif., determined to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress. While she loved her hometown, Hathaway told Interview in 2011 that she’d always wanted to spread her wings. "My feeling about growing up in New Jersey was, ‘How come I’m not in New York?’" she said. "That being said, I’m older and I have a better worldview now, and so I think I grew up in an incredibly privileged position. The town I grew up in is beautiful. I got a great education, and I’m very grateful for it. But it’s not a place I wanted to stay. I left when I was 16, just to follow my dreams."
At 16, Hathaway landed a job on a TV show that filmed in LA (as noted by IMDb, she starred on Get Real from 1999 to 2000) and the rest is history.
The Princess Diaries changed Anne Hathaway’s life
The TV show Get Real was Anne Hathaway’s first big role, according to IMDb, but it would be her next part that cemented her career as a film star. In 2001, Hathaway starred in The Princess Diaries which brought her international acclaim. Even more than a decade after its release, Hathaway still looks back on the film fondly. In 2019, she told People that she had a feeling right off the bat that The Princess Diaries was going to be huge. "Getting the script, it just had that feeling," she said. "I touched it, and it was electric."
Hathaway was just 18 years old when she landed the big break that also made another dream — working with Julie Andrews — come true. "Getting to make it and be on set every day, I got to hug Julie Andrews every day," she said. "That part was also very, very, very magical."
Hathaway is still grateful to The Princess Diaries, saying it made her "very, very, very famous," although she looks at things a bit differently. "I live my life as if I’ve won the lottery not as though I was famous," she said.
The Dark Knight Rises shook up Anne Hathaway’s good girl image
For a while after The Princess Diaries came out, it seemed Anne Hathaway ran a risk of being typecast as a princess. Per IMDb, Hathaway’s subsequent films included 2004’s Ella Enchanted and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. Hathaway also starred in a number of romantic comedies and chick flicks, including 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada, 2009’s Bride Wars, and 2010’s Valentine’s Day.
In 2012, Hathaway shook things up a bit as Selina (AKA Catwoman) in the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. Hathaway prepped for the role by studying cats to help her learn how to move with stealth and grace. "I actually had this moment when I convinced one of the assistant directors on the London portion of the film to get a cat with me, the idea being that we were going to get a kitten from a rescue shelter, and he was going to live with me, and I was going to observe it, and when I left London I was going to give it to her," she told Interview. But ultimately Hathaway decided to just watch "a National Geographic video on cats" instead.
The anti-Anne Hathaway campaign that almost derailed her career
In spite of Anne Hathaway’s success and her endearing qualities, there was a time when a hate-filled campaign against the star nearly derailed her career. It all began in the early 2010s, shortly after she wrapped up her role in 2012’s Les Misérables. It’s hard to figure out what exactly happened but suddenly the internet was against Hathaway, and her critics were dubbed "Hathahaters." "Everyone sort of hates Anne Hathaway," said Howard Stern on his SiriusXM radio show in 2013 (via The New York Times). He added that she seems "so affected and actressy." Headlines also blasted Hathaway. SFGate dubbed her the "Most Annoying Celebrity of 2013."
The vitriol tarnished Hathaway’s Oscar win for Les Misérables. She was already, as she told The Guardian in 2016, still reeling from the experience of portraying the emotionally challenging role of Fantine in Les Misérables, but was also aware of the cruelty being aimed at her. "I had to stand up in front of people and feel something I don’t feel, which is uncomplicated happiness," she said. "It’s an obvious thing, you win an Oscar and you’re supposed to be happy. I didn’t feel that way."
Anne Hathaway learned to deal with cyberbullying
The public hatred aimed towards Anne Hathaway had the potential to be particularly damaging because of her past feelings of self-hate. Instead of sinking into a depression, however, Hathaway instead found ways of coping with the widespread cyberbullying. In 2014, Hathaway appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and spoke about the waves of "Hathahaters."
"I listened at first," she said. "I couldn’t help it. You try to shut it off, and I couldn’t. And then I realized why I couldn’t was [that] I hadn’t learned to love myself yet. I hadn’t gotten there." She continued, "And if you don’t love yourself, when someone else says horrible things to you, part of you is always going to believe them."
Hathaway decided that, instead of listening to the negativity, she was going to focus on loving herself. She made the decision to no longer be dependent on what other people think of her. "I just kept livin’," she said. "It’s been a really cool journey and I feel like … I have a tremendous amount of love and compassion for everyone else. And, best of all, I have it for myself."
Anne Hathaway tries to avoid the spotlight for this reason
As Town & Country pointed out in a 2019 interview with Anne Hathaway, the star has cultivated a reputation for keeping her private life notoriously private. Hathaway does her best to stay out of the spotlight, but it’s not necessarily for the reasons that you might think. In 2011, Interview asked her what her biggest flaws as an actress are and Hathaway acknowledged that, while she thinks that "the list is endless," she also wouldn’t ever share them with the public. "One of the reasons why it’s dangerous is that if you point out what you don’t like about yourself, then I think people can start to look for that," she said.
Hathaway added, "It’s part of the reason why I try to stay out of the spotlight as much as humanly possible, because I think that when actors, whether or not they’ve chosen it or it has been thrust upon them, are living very public lives, it affects your ability to get lost in their performances."
Anne Hathaway credits her husband with helping her "be in the world comfortably"
One of the major influences in Anne Hathaway’s life has been her husband, Adam Shulman, whom she credits with having transformed her life. "He changed my ability to be in the world comfortably," she told Elle in 2017.
Shulman, an actor, producer, and jewelry designer, has been with Hathaway since 2008, The couple married in 2012 and have been together happily ever since. "I think the accepted narrative now is that we, as women, don’t need anybody," said Hathaway. "But I need my husband. His unique and specific love has changed me."
Still, Hathaway is human, and there’s no such thing as a miracle cure. There are times when anxiety overwhelms her, but Hathaway has developed a good coping tactic for this: writing down what’s stressing her out. "Set a timer on your phone, have a candle nearby, and write it all down," she told Town & Country in 2019. "You spew it all out. You do not read it. The timer goes off, you tear it out of the book, and you light it on fire."
Anne Hathaway is an outspoken feminist
In 2016, Anne Hathaway was appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. "Significant progress has already been made but it is time that we collectively intensify our efforts and ensure that true [gender] equality is finally realized," said Hathaway on the UN Women website.
The unapologetic feminist wants to see global gender equality, and she is excited to see that Hollywood is also slowly starting to work towards that goal. In 2019, she told Town & Country that she first felt the film industry starting to shift on the set of Ocean’s 8, a female-led reboot of the original Ocean’s trilogy. "We were there for each other, and we were supportive," she said. "Why have I always been told that the opposite would happen?"
Hathaway also credits other women with being a source of strength for her. Two of her famous female friends are Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt, friends who Hathaway says keep her inspired. "You just believe that more is possible," she said of the impact of surrounding herself with such friends. "You’re a little bit braver and you want to dig a little bit deeper, you know?"
Anne Hathaway opened up about her struggles with infertility for a reason
Anne Hathaway has struggled with infertility in the past, and she has been very open about her journey. "For everyone going through infertility and conception hell, please know it was not a straight line to either of my pregnancies," she wrote in an Instagram post featuring her flaunting her baby bump in July 2019 and announcing her second pregnancy.
In a later interview with the Daily Mail, Hathaway opened up more about her infertility struggles and revealed why she has been so candid. "Each time I was trying to get pregnant and it wasn’t going my way, someone else would manage to conceive, she shared. She also suggested that discussing infertility needs to be more normalized. "There’s a one-size-fits-all narrative that we attach to getting pregnant, and it’s a narrative that only wants to focus on the happy moment," she said. "But that’s not the whole story because, for many women, this is just not that easy. I’m tired of it, because it’s not the truth and I like the truth."
Hathaway added, "’What I hated was when people would say: ‘What’s taking you so long?’"
Motherhood has impacted Anne Hathaway and made her determined to be a good influence
After struggling with infertility, Anne Hathaway gave birth to her first child, Jonathan, in 2016. Her husband is no longer her main anchor, as motherhood has helped Hathaway stay on the positive path of self-love that he helped her get on. It isn’t always easy, but Hathaway is determined to not just love herself in order to be happy, but also in order to set a good example for her children.
"How Johnny is going to feel about himself will have so much to do with how I feel about myself in front of him," she told Vogue in 2018. "If I’m feeling insecure, I am very careful that I don’t show that. But I also work really hard to acknowledge that place, give room for that place, and then release myself from that place. I’m more loving now, and that includes toward myself."
Anne Hathaway is very aware of how lucky she is and doesn’t take it for granted
Anne Hathaway’s acting career may have had its ups and downs over the years, but, overall, she has achieved remarkable success and has had some incredibly big breaks. Hathaway isn’t taking any of this for granted, and she knows just how privileged she is. Instead of viewing being an actress as an identity, she looks at acting as something that she is lucky to do and as something that will not last forever.
"It’s all temporary — like, all of it," she told Town & Country in 2019. "I used to not understand that, and it was a lot harder." She added, "A part of me just has to be aware that whatever is going on, however hard it is, whatever it’s asking of me, I’m incredibly lucky to be the one who’s being asked."