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Hathaway gets ‘Smart’ in at least 99 ways

The roles have gotten bigger, but not much else has changed about Anne Hathaway since she started making noise seven years ago with “The Princess Diaries.”

The roles have gotten bigger, the paychecks fatter, but not much else has changed about Anne Hathaway since she started making noise seven years ago with the release of her first big feature film “The Princess Diaries.” She was a teenager then, but she was just as luminous, unpretentious, curious, witty and gracious as she is today.

And Hathaway’s maturity has always been one of her most endearing assets. She’s now a legitimate contender for roles that were once automatically offered to some of her more famous contemporaries — some of whom have to rely more on their looks than their talent. That’s one of the reasons why “Get Smart” director Peter Segal knew she was the one when Hathaway agreed to audition for one of the most coveted roles in town at the time.

“She was literally the first actress we had read for the part and everyone wanted to play this role,” he said. “She is a big fan of ‘The Office’ and wanted to work with Steve (Carell).  She came in and read with Steve and he went off the page and she followed. A lot of those ad libs ended up in the movie.”

Hathaway plays Agent 99, the role made famous by Barbara Feldon in the ’60s sitcom starring Don Adams. The plot of this action comedy, which hits theaters on Friday, is simple — Maxwell Smart (Carell) and 99 join forces to save the world from the evil clutches of a crime syndicate called KAOS — but Hathaway’s part is anything but. Not only did the star of “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Becoming Jane” have to perfect her comedic timing, she also had to tap into her inner Carrie Bradshaw and run in heels and haute couture.

“There were several scenes in the movie where we are running toward Disney Hall at full tilt,” Carell said during a press conference. “I was running as fast as I could possibly run. Anne Hathaway was wearing four, five, six-inch heels and she was kicking my ass. I have no idea how that is physically possible.”

Actually, it wasn’t as difficult as it sounds. Dressed in skinny jeans and a loose-fitting off-white cotton blouse, Hathaway, who was a high school athlete, said that she developed the ability to sprint in Manolos while shooting “Prada.”

“Basically we were trying to find a look that you could walk down runways with or fight Ninjas,” she said. “When it came time to just add some high kicks and jumps it wasn’t that bad. Having a stunt double who did it much better than me helped though!”

‘I’ve had tremendous luck in my life’That’s as it should be. You can’t have an A-list movie star getting her heel caught in a crack on the sidewalk and falling flat on her face. So far, so good. The Brooklyn-born actress who grew up on the tree-lined streets of Millburn, N.J., has been skipping happily down the yellow brick road and hasn’t hit a bump yet.

“I’m 25 years old and I’ve had tremendous luck in my life in terms of movies that I’ve made for artistic reasons that have gone on to become commercial successes,” said Hathaway who turned down the lead in “Knocked Up.” “It’s kind of dumb luck. You never know what’s going to hit. The process is you just try to pick the best you can from what’s available and you try to work with people that inspire you. That’s just about it.”

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Hathaway, like most successful actors, likes to mix it up. She’ll play a therapist in “Passengers,” a thriller about a plane crash; a recovering drug addict in the Jonathan Demme comedy “Rachel Gets Married”; and will star opposite Kate Hudson in “Bride Wars,” a romantic comedy about two friends who schedule their weddings on the same day.

Although Hathaway’s personal life was exposed a tiny bit when her fiancée was accused of writing bad checks — and is now being investigated for some alleged improprieties with his charitable organization — she’s no Kate Hudson when it comes to attracting the paparazzi. “We were filming in New York the other day,” Hathaway said. “I don’t usually have to deal with a lot of paparazzi attention but Kate does. There were, I kid you not, 50 paparazzi on the street and we had to call off the shoot because they wouldn’t get out of the way. We had to find a different location.”

That’s as it should be, too. Hathaway is too smart to drown in that pool of ridiculousness that Hudson and her dude du jour are swimming in.

Perhaps Hathaway needs to school her co-star on running in heels.