Reel Women: Why Do People Hate Anne Hathaway?
We can all agree that Anne Hathaway is a gifted actress and a delight to watch on screen, but apparently many of you hate her off-screen persona — an issue that calls to mind similar, recent complaints about Beyonce in her HBO documentary. And an issue that I don’t agree with.
It’s only recently come to my attention that many people hate Anne Hathaway — not as an actress, but as a human being. I threw out a quick question to my followers on Twitter last night to see why people seem to hate Ms. Hathaway, and the answers varied from the crass (“Looks like someone poured milk on a skeleton”) to the more reasonable, like our own Matt Singer, who also writes for Indiewire, and who said, “I enjoy her work onscreen. But some of her acceptance speeches have seemed awfully phony and very rehearsed.”
The common thread through all of the complaints (disregarding the cruel ones about her appearance) seems to be that she is fake, as if she never matured out of her high school drama club mentality. During acceptance speeches, interviews, and according to my editor Mike Sampson, her appearance on Zach Galifianakis‘ ‘Between Two Ferns,’ she always seems like she’s “on,” meaning she always appears to be performing. Perhaps it’s her cheerful cadence and demeanor, or her polished appearance, or maybe it’s that she has a refined air about her, an air that I’d call classy, but some seem to think is too reserved and closed-off.
But here’s the thing: Anne Hathaway is an actress, a woman who exists in the public eye as a performer — she is there to entertain us and that is her only job. People praise Jennifer Lawrence for her candidness during interviews, the way she acts goofy and cracks wise, and how she doesn’t seem to care when she admits liking Rob Schneider and disliking “black-and-white, freaking boring” movies. We like when Jennifer Lawrence acts this way because she is doing her job by keeping us entertained at all times, but we really like it because it feels like she’s behaving in a way that isn’t quite proper — as if she’s given her publicist the finger and decided to show us a side of herself that’s strikingly un-classy in comparison to her more restrained colleagues. Charlize Theron is similarly a loose cannon in interviews, having famously spoken about her ‘Prometheus‘ co-star Michael Fassbender‘s penis. These women feel unpredictable — in the parlance of film, they’re loose cannons, and they don’t play by the rules.
I’d argue these behaviors and perceived quirks are just as carefully calculated as Hathaway’s “candid” demeanor because public perception is key in remaining relevant as an A-list star. And did Anne Hathaway seem phony when she put Matt Lauer in his place on the ‘Today’ show for making a crack about her unfortunate run-in with a paparazzi while exiting a car sans-underwear? Does she seem phony in any number of interviews when she’s asked about her diet and exercise routines and subsequently shuts the interviewers down for focusing on her weight and appearance instead of her talent? No. She seems like a smart, thoughtful woman and a lady I’d like to have a conversation with.
Actors and actresses play to their strengths, and that undoubtedly applies to their public personas as well — though it’s wise to keep in mind that they don’t owe us their personal lives. It’s none of our business who they date, how much they weigh, when their children are born or what they named them. But we crave this information because we search for flaws within them to humanize them, and that’s the nice way of putting it. There’s also this primitive urge that exists within us to see a successful, famous, beautiful person broken down — it’s why we read tabloids and laugh and tsk-tsk at their very human misfortunes, it’s why we love a good paparazzi crotch-shot because we can say “Well, she should have known better,” and it’s why we love it when they fall down, literally and figuratively.
The complaints about Anne Hathaway’s “off-screen” persona remind me of the recent issues taken with Beyonce and her documentary for HBO, ‘Life Is But a Dream.’ Many felt as though her more candid moments were too controlled and fake, and while the doc was billed as an in-depth, inside look at the world of Beyonce — a woman known for controlling her public image and guarding her privacy (wisely, I might add) — people didn’t feel as though they got to know the real Beyonce at all. Instead, the general consensus is that this seemed to be just another manufactured, tightly-controlled version of what Beyonce would consider “intimate.”
But Beyonce doesn’t owe you private access to her life, and it is ultimately her choice to reveal as much or as little as she’d like about herself publicly to suit her own comfort. Similarly, Anne Hathaway doesn’t owe you a specific persona or a more candid version of herself. Whether you believe either of these women to be phony and impersonal is your own opinion — or your own problem, depending on how much it bothers you. You don’t know the real Anne Hathaway, and it’s not your right to know her. Maybe she seems just as fake in private as she does in public, but that’s not something we can — or ever should — know.