Anne Hathaway: 'Scripts I was getting were like versions of things already made'
Anne Hathaway felt a bit adrift in her acting career until she saw the ideas for new film Colossal. She tells Jeananne Craig why the role was just what she needed
Before receiving the script for her latest movie, Anne Hathaway was feeling, in her own words, "creatively beige".
The 34-year-old had A-list status, an Oscar to her name (for 2012's Les Miserables), and wasn't short of offers of work, but she found herself "adrift between the shallow end and the deep end".
She admits: "I couldn't connect to the scripts I was sent. They all felt like versions of things that have been made."
A recommendation from The Silence Of The Lambs film-maker Jonathan Demme, who directed Hathaway in the 2008 drama Rachel Getting Married, helped the star out of her rut.
The director, who died last month aged 73, told Hathaway to watch Ben Wheatley's psychedelic film A Field In England. It gave the actress just the kick-start she needed.
"This movie was so wild and technicolour and trippy and different, and I just knew that I wanted to make that - something that had the same qualities as that," she enthuses. "I wrote this email to my reps saying, 'Find me that'."
A week later, Hathaway was sent the script for her new film Colossal, which has been described as part-monster movie, part-romcom.
"They (Hathaway's people) said, 'This is the weirdest thing we have'. I loved it because it was different in its DNA, but not trying to be different. It wasn't a pony painted as a unicorn. It was a pure unicorn."
Hathaway plays Gloria, an out-of-work party girl who moves back to her small home town from New York after breaking up with her boyfriend Tim (played by former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens).
Back home, she reconnects with childhood pal and bar owner Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), and resumes her boozy ways.
Things take a stranger turn when news emerges of a giant creature destroying Seoul in South Korea. Gloria discovers she is somehow connected to these far-off events when her every move at a local playground is mimicked, on an epic scale, by the rampaging monster.
For all the supernatural elements, there's also a human tale in there, as Gloria falls victim to Oscar's controlling behaviour.
"It made me grateful I have never been in a relationship as abusive as that. It's resonating for a lot of people on that level," says Hathaway, who married actor Adam Shulman in 2012.
"It's about toxicity in general, it's about being a human being, that's what I liked about it."
It's all a far cry from The Princess Diaries, the sweet coming-of-age film that gave Hathaway her big break in 2001, or The Devil Wears Prada, her hit 2006 comedy with Meryl Streep.
But the actress is more than capable of playing edgier parts; her character in Rachel Getting Married was in and out of rehab, and in 2010's Love & Other Drugs (for which she received a Golden Globe nomination), she played a woman with early onset Parkinson's disease.
Since making Colossal, Hathaway says she has "made an improvement in my attitude" when it comes to finding roles.
"I have a better approach to the search. As a result of identifying something I wanted to do, I've made myself better. I'm having an inspiration to find scripts that mean something to me."
Before his death, Demme - who Hathaway described as her "favourite rebel angel" - had the chance to see Colossal at a Toronto Film Festival screening.
"He loved it. I was able to tell that story in front of him. He knew how integral he was," says Hathaway, who gave birth to son Jonathan last year.
"After the person I married and the person I gave birth to, (Demme) was the person who was most important to me."
Next, she joins the all-female line-up for heist film Ocean's Eight, with co-stars including Rihanna, Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett.
She describes the experience as "100% positive", adding: "I loved all the women I worked with. It is going to be a lot of fun."
She'll also appear in Nasty Women, a 'gender-swapped' remake of the 1988 film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, alongside Australian actress Rebel Wilson.
The comedy, about two con artists who try to trick a tech prodigy out of his fortune, will be directed by British comedian and The Thick Of It actor, Chris Addison.
There's also some producing work in the pipeline but no plans to direct at the moment, although she says it would be "wonderful" to try it at some point.
"There is such an unevenness in the numbers of opportunities between actors and actresses. If you have ambition, it behoves you to look for opportunities," Hathaway adds.
Despite her beige moment before signing up for Colossal, it's clear Hathaway has no plans to give up the day job.
"I want to do everything. I want to do it for as long as they will let me. I want to be that lady in my 70s that they have to find a way around the insurance. I have ideas. I'm taking a lifetime approach."
But, she adds: "If I had to give it up tomorrow, I've had such a fun run. I've really had some wonders in my time."
- Colossal is in cinemas now. See our review page 30