‘Dark Knight Rises” Anne Hathaway on her less-schizo Catwoman and waging war in heels

Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman is considerably less deranged than the version of the character played by Michelle Pfeiffer in “Batman Returns” – and that’s just the way she likes it.

“I loved that the focus was [on] who she was as Selina [Kyle] and that there wasn’t a schism within her, that she didn’t change when she put on the suit,” said Hathaway, speaking at the “Dark Knight Rises” press conference in Los Angeles earlier today. “It was kind of her uniform which she had to wear for her job.”

Nevertheless, Hathaway’s more grounded portrayal of the character (who’s actually never referred to as Catwoman in the film) certainly doesn’t translate into a less physically-capable anti-heroine. In fact, writer/director Christopher Nolan made it clear that not only would Selina take part in some fierce bouts of physical action, but that he expected Hathaway to do most or all of her own fighting on-screen.

“When I got the part, Chris had called me into his office and said, ‘ok, so there’s gonna be a lot of fighting, and when we did ‘Inception,’ [Joseph-Gordon Levitt] got in really good shape,'” she recounted him saying, with Nolan continuing: “‘Joe went to the gym for months so when he did his fight sequence, he did all of his own fighting. I really liked that.'”

Point taken, Hathaway trained for months both prior to and during production of the film, describing the overall physical change in her as “a complete transformation.” That said, the pressure she felt from Nolan to get herself in fighting shape never manifested itself as pressure to look a certain way, which Hathaway – having made her living in an industry that holds women up to unrealistic standards of beauty – appreciated enormously.

“I felt very lucky about [that],” said the actress, a close-cropped hairstyle emphasizing her large doe eyes even more than usual. “Because I feel like in a situation like this – and I don’t know what other actresses have gone through – I feel like sometimes there’s a mandate that comes to you, an ideal of how you have to look, and the way i was treated on this movie was learn how to do what you need to do, and then however you look, that’s the way the character looks. And I just felt as a woman, very protected in that way.”

Nevertheless, Hathaway’s variant of the classic femme fatale is far from dowdy – not only can she keep up admirably with the boys, she does it all in stilettos.

“How did I do it in heels?” she replied to a question about functioning adequately in the ungainly costume. “You just do, it’s just part of being a woman. [Laughs] You just figure it out. ‘Devil Wears Prada’ was really good training for that though. I kinda ran up and down Manhattan, so [in ‘Dark Knight Rises’ I] just ran up and down Gotham.”

“The Dark Knight Rises” hits theaters on July 20.