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Anne Hathaway learns from a legend in ‘Prada’

23-year-old actress says co-star Meryl Streep ‘is just divine’
/ Source: The Associated Press

Anne Hathaway is growing up fast. The 23-year-old actress, who got her big break as a klutzy teen in "The Princess Diaries," opposite legend Julie Andrews, has graduated to more serious roles. She was a feisty cowgirl — and even appeared topless — in last year's "Brokeback Mountain," and stars alongside another acting luminary, Meryl Streep, in "The Devil Wears Prada," slated for release June 30.

In "Devil," based on Lauren Weisberger's best-selling book, Hathaway plays the beleaguered assistant to the icy, demanding editor (Streep) of a Vogue-like fashion magazine. Swept up in her career, her character goes from geek-to-chic — trading drab sweaters for designer duds — but struggles with the price of success.

Hathaway says the movie is a "statement piece" about being a young woman in the work force and what it's like to "learn to make decisions as an adult."

Sporting a bouncy ponytail and thick-framed glasses (which came off for the pictures shot for this article), she sat down with The Associated Press to talk about working with Streep and making adult decisions of her own.

AP: Have you ever had a job as an assistant?

Hathaway: I've honestly been really lucky. My only jobs have been babysitting and acting.

AP: Did you ever dream you'd work with Meryl Streep?

Hathaway: Well, of course I dreamed, but you also dream about being president — the likelihood is slim. She is just divine. As a human being, she has basically accomplished everything that I want to do ... It's not that she just gets inside the character, she's just absolutely at the center of all of her choices, of the truth of the character. And as an artist, that's what you dream of. Nothing can push her off that. The weather won't affect her, (or) silly things, like someone's cell phone going off. It won't make her lose focus in her character. And to be around that — to have been brought into that during our scenes — I just felt like I was shaving years off my discovery as an actress to realize, "Okay, that's what this feels like." Now I just have to get there myself.

AP: So what got you interested in acting in the first place?

Hathaway: My mom (Kate McCauley) is an actress, so I guess she's the one that taught me it was a possibility. For as long as I can remember, I've always played make-believe ... It's something that I've always done, that I've always been comfortable doing.

AP: You've transitioned from family-friendly movies to more mature roles. What do you want to happen with your career?

Hathaway: I'd like to be a working actor. I know it sounds very simple, but the importance of that cannot be overstated. It sounds really trite, but there really are no small parts, only small actors. And so as long as I'm a working actor, I can improve. I want to work with people that frighten me and excite me, and characters that I don't believe I'm the best person for the part but I'm still gonna try anyway. Those are my favorite roles.

AP: Do you want to be a movie star?

Hathaway: I don't feel comfortable doing movies. It's not what I trained to do. I trained to be a theater actress. You put me on a stage in front of 2,000 people, I know what to do. You put me in front of a camera, I'm like, "Duh" (makes a face). Although I'm still terrified of it — and I freely admit that I am — I've kind of grown to love it, and it is it's own art form. It's a lot harder I think than people realize. (I am) just getting to understand it better. I was thrust into a really lofty, enviable, but isolated position with "Princess Diaries" in that I could carry a film before I really knew if I could act.

AP: What do you do when you're not acting?

Hathaway: I'm a pretty boring person. I have a dog that I love, and a boyfriend (real-estate developer Raffaello Follieri) that I love, and friends that I love, and a family that I love. I'm just trying to spend as much time with them as I can. I love reading — this is just really gonna send you screaming for the hills: my passion is interior decorating. I'm usually at antique fairs and walking around furniture stores in Manhattan or kind of refashioning furniture. My goal for the next ten years is to get into carpentry, because I really want to learn how to make my own furniture.

AP: You seem to avoid the hard-partying young-star lifestyle. How do you stay out of trouble and the tabloids?

Hathaway: I really don't drink, I don't do drugs. I feel like right now I've been given so many opportunities I don't want to mess it up with those things ... I think I was raised in a solidly upper-middle class family who had really strong values and excess was not one of the things that my family put up with. And there's something wildy decadent about the young-star lifestyle, and I just don't really see the point. I got my partying out of my system in college.