Anne Hathaway has had to deal with an unusual amount of internet scorn – certainly more than average for someone in her position. In my brief encounters with her during interview situations, she’s always been funny, gracious (in that it’s obvious she’s putting a lot of thought into her answers as opposed to just giving canned answers) and shockingly self-aware. In 2014, she bluntly told me, “My impression is that people needed a break from me,” and I was completely unprepared to respond to that and didn’t really say much back and I’ve regretted that. When we dove into the themes of her new film, Colossal, we talked about all this again and, yes, she has very strong opinions about this subject.
In Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal – opening on April 7, it’s a movie that has garnered extreme reactions from people who have seen it – Hathaway plays Gloria, a woman who has to return to her hometown after losing her job as (yes) an internet writer in New York City. When she returns home, she’s reunited with her childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), and things seem to go well at first, but then they start to spiral out of control as the movie goes to some dark, sinister places, one of them being that Gloria realizes she has the power to become a Godzilla-type monster that wrecks havoc in Japan. That’s led some to refer to Colossal as the “Anne Hathaway kaiju movie,” a sentence Hathaway absolutely adores.
I met Hathaway and Sudeikis in Midtown Manhattan at a brand spankin’ new hotel I didn’t even know existed until this moment. Ahead, Hathaway and Sudeikis discuss the themes of Colossal, which range from, yes, kaiju, to men’s rights activists, to the online hate directed at women.
(When I entered the room, I think it’s impossible for Sudeikis and myself to not discuss the SNL “Potato Chip” sketch, even though we have already covered that at length. But I did enjoy watching Sudeikis try to explain it to Hathaway.)
Jason Sudeikis: [To Hathaway] We’re from the same hometown. We have a mutual love for a thing that I was in, but very much a fan of. Did you ever see the sketch “Potato Chip” that Will Forte and I did?
Anne Hathaway: No
I want to hear you try to describe this.
Sudeikis: Yeah. It’s like a small version of this movie. I’ll send you the link. The sketch was like a Tennessee Williams play. When I read it, I was like, this is amazing. And we play it with no wink whatsoever. It’s just all melodrama.
Hathaway: And it’s about a potato chip?
Well, Jason plays a Colonel Sanders-type character who is at a job interview for NASA…
Hathaway: Was that like the 12:53 a.m. sketch?
Sudeikis: Oh yeah.
Before anyone had seen this movie at the Toronto Film Festival it was being described as the “Anne Hathaway Godzilla movie.”
Hathaway: I was so proud of that. Because you can’t help it: you’re having your coffee in the morning and, if you’re in Toronto, if it’s about a film that you’re in and someone’s just like, “Uh, people are talking about the Anne Hathaway kaiju movie.” And I was like, “Yes!” Not that people are talking about it, but just that that sentence exists.
I had never heard that sentence before.
Hathaway: I’m just happy that that is a real sentence in my career.
We’re not used to seeing you in something like a genre movie. And even though this movie has so many dark elements, you look like you’re having the time of your life.
Hathaway: Well, I was! And I was pregnant – so I was literally like tap dancing on a cloud every day, full of life. But no, people’s reaction to this – people coming up to me saying, “We’re not used to seeing you like this,” has made me realize that we don’t know each other very well. Because if you know me, you know that this is probably the closest to me.
You should do more movies like this.
Hathaway: There aren’t many to do.
Okay, fair enough. There are no movies quite like this.
Hathaway: You know? I love movies and I love being in movies. Not every movie I make speaks to my own personal ethos. this is one of the closest to that: to my personal outlook on life, personality, sense of humor. This is probably the most like me. That along with probably Rachel Getting Married.
There was a Twitter meme going around listing the best movie of every year you’ve been alive. I saw Rachel Getting Married in that 2008 slot many, many times.
Hathaway: Oh, God, thank you for telling me that. It means a lot. And this movie has a connection to that movie, because I was in a little bit of an artistic rut before I read this script. And Jonathan Demme is sort of like my artistic godfather on this planet. And I just was hanging out with him and he’s like, “Come and see this screening of A Field in England by Ben Wheatley. Just come to see it.” And it just energized me and I was like, I’ve got to make a movie like that. I’ve got to own who I am and be weird and explore this and just be creative for the sake of being creative. And then this one came across my path.
There’s not a lot of middle ground with the reaction to Colossal. People either love it or they are not on board with it at all.
Hathaway: I don’t want to hog the interview. Do you mind if I take this one though?
Sudeikis: No, please, go.
Hathaway: It was interesting because I think people’s reaction to this movie tell you a lot about who they are. And so we were just doing some television interviews and two people in a row came in and said, “Anne Hathaway, you play a mess in this.” And a journalist just came in and said, “You play someone who’s struggling.” I can tell you, I have more in common with that – I’m more interested in that person’s outlook on life than I am the people who wanted to label Gloria as a mess. To that end, a man came in and said, “Could you say that this is a female revenge movie?” And I don’t feel that way about that – and I thought that his word choice, the fact that it resonated with him on that level, said more about him than the film.