'The Dark Knight Rises' Interview: Anne Hathaway, on Bringing Her Version of Catwoman to the Big Screen

'The Dark Knight Rises' Interview: Anne Hathaway, on Bringing Her Version of Catwoman to the Big Screen

May 27, 2012

Anne Hathaway is no stranger to critical success, though it may have struck some as a mild surprise that she would be destined to bring Christopher Nolan's version of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, to life. A film of the magnitude of The Dark Knight Rises seems to be a first for the actress, but it's clear to us that she would have played a role much smaller than the legendary Batman rogue just to get a chance to work with director Christopher Nolan.
Hathaway is the latest to bring Selina Kyle to life, following in the footsteps of actresses like Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, and Michelle Pfeiffer. How does she feel about taking on such a role? That was the thrust of our conversation with Miss Hathaway on the set of The Dark Knight Rises in Pittsburgh last summer.
Q: Are you happy to be able to finally talk about the movie?
Anne Hathaway: Well, I am happy to be able to talk about the movie as much as I can. [Laughs] But it’s still, you know…obviously a few secrets are out now so I can discuss certain things, but quite a few things are still under wraps.
Q: Can you talk about just sort of stepping into the shoes of such an iconic character that’s been such a defining role for a lot of people? You know, a lot of people grew up with Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, Julie Newmar before that, it’s been a whole span of people. How does it feel to be Catwoman?
AH: Well, it’s an honor. The first thing you have to say is what an honor [it is], and it was funny for me because when I got my start, I kind of got my big break in a film called The Princess Diaries, and during the press for that everyone would ask me, “did you always want to be a princess growing up?” And the truth was, no, I wanted to be Catwoman! [Laughs] And I think a lot of young women feel that way, probably a lot of women in general, and the fact that I am actually her, is such a dream come true. It’s such a “pinch-me” moment, and the fact that I am Catwoman in Chris Nolan’s Gotham to Christian Bale’s Batman is unbelievably cool! [Laughs]
Q: How’s the character being interpreted here that’s different from previous interpretations?
AH: I’m sorry, specifics? [Laughs]
Q: Well, as much as you can say. In broad terms.
AH: Ooh! She fits into the Gotham that Chris has established.
Q: When you get this role, what does Mr. Nolan tell you about not talking?
AH: It’s sort of implied that everything is meant to be kept as under wraps as possible. You know, the production isn’t called “Batman,” it has another name. When I first read the script I couldn’t take it home with me, I had to read it in a locked room. Maybe the room wasn’t locked, I could be adding that for dramatic effect. But, you know.
Q: How do you learn your lines then, if you can’t even take the script with you?
AH: Well I read through it once really fast, and then I went back and went over all my scenes, and kind of tried to memorize them as much as I could instantly. It’s cool, you can call Chris and say, “what is this scene about again?” And then eventually you get a copy of the script, but everything is done with the utmost secrecy. When I screen tested, I took the sides home with me, and it was really awkward because Jordan, the producer, had to hunt me down and get the sides back so they could be destroyed. So, it’s implied that it should be treated with a certain amount of respect and secrecy. Which is great, because I think it’s so much more fun to discover it in the movie theater, and there’s so much anticipation for the movie, I am personally excited for people to discover it when it’s all pieced together the way Chris wants it.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge physically going into this film?
AH: Well you know, I’ve always thought I was pretty healthy, and I always thought that I was a really hard worker at the gym, and it turns out that what I thought was hard -- in Catwoman’s world -- is light to moderate. [Laughs] So, I’ve had to just ratchet everything up. I have the most incredible stuntwoman in the world, and she’s really gotten me and the character to another level.
Q: There are a lot of female characters in comics, why did you want to be Catwoman when you were a kid?
AH: I love Catwoman’s sense of humor. I love how sly she is. I love the way she walks a fence, and you don’t know which side she’s going to come down on. She’s totally independent. And let’s face it, she’s bad-ass.
Q: Can you tell us who your favorite Catwoman is?
AH: They’re all great! It’s true, each Catwoman is specific to the Gotham City that she lives in., and the director that helps shape her. So it’s kind of hard to have a favorite, and I’m not just being political. It’s hard to have a favorite because each one is so specific in themselves. And you look back at the comic and its history, and Catwoman gets reinvented every 10-15 years anyway, so you can have preferences, but the core of the character, I think, remains.
Q: Did you look at any previous Catwomen for inspiration, and did you get to influence her look at all in this film?
AH: I grew up with all of them, so I was well-acquainted with the character. As I mentioned, she’s one of my favorite characters in the comic book world and in the movie world. So, I didn’t go back to any of the other ones because I am in Chris’s Gotham City, so for me it didn’t make a lot of sense [to go back]. As extraordinary a performance as Michelle Pfeiffer gave, that was Tim Burton’s Gotham. So, for me that didn’t make a lot of sense. And, I don’t know if I had any influence [on her look].
Q: After Bruce Wayne’s loss of Rachel in the last film, does Selina’s arrival in his life really affect him strongly?
AH: Perhaps! [Laughs]
Q: Have you been filming with the big IMAX cameras doing dialogue scenes?
AH: We have been, yes.
Q: What is that like? Those cameras make a lot of noise, have you guys been working that out, or have you not noticed that?
AH: I’ve noticed the noise, it sounds like a cappuccino being made constantly! You know in the fight sequences, I actually love it. Because it keeps you out of your head, it adds to the adrenaline somehow. The dialogue scenes, I haven’t shot that many of them on IMAX so I assume we’re just going to ADR it later on, or that our sound guy who just won an Oscar knows what he’s doing and maybe we won’t have to!
Q: Being that you were a fan of the character beforehand, when you come into this knowing that Christopher Nolan is directing and that you can trust him, do you have any concerns that the script doesn’t connect with the Catwoman in your mind?
AH: Dude, when Chris Nolan is your director, you’re like, “I trust that! I’m wrong!” I have no problems bowing down to Chris’s vision, I have loved every movie he’s made, it’s an honor to be in one of them. And, I think that if something doesn’t make sense, forcing yourself to understand it from his perspective makes you better. And, he’s right. Not he’s usually right, he is right.
Q: After Christian Bale, you’re the most high profile person in the cast at this point. So could this movie be a very big part of your career, since it’s a character that’s very well known?
AH: Yeah, but I mean, obviously Christian is Batman and the series is the Batman series, so Christian is the star of it. But, one of the things that I love about working with Christian as an actor, but also what I’ve loved about this franchise is that it does feel like an ensemble each time. And Christian is the leader of the actors, and he’s so generous with everyone and so lovely. So, I haven’t really thought about that, to be honest.
Q: Can you talk about any fighting styles that you’ve learned? Coming from a dance background, that must have come in handy for this, right?
AH: I don’t actually know the name [of the martial arts style], in the stunt department they’re all phenomenal fighters and so I’ve been trying to mimic them and do whatever they’ve been telling me to do. I just came from the gym, and I was doing all sorts of kicks. I think it’s kind of a mixed martial arts situation. I don’t know what it’s called, but I’ve been doing it in heels. [Laughs]
Q: Nolan’s never really had a bad ass female character before.
AH: Have you seen Memento?!
Q: Yeah she’s cool, and she’s strong, but she doesn’t actually get stuck in the action, you know? So how’s it feel to be the first actress that’s done this in one of his films?
AH: Well I didn’t realize that, and now I sort of feel a little nauseous! [Laughs] That’s a lot of pressure. I couldn’t feel more privileged to walk on the set every day, I’m the most annoying, chipper person, because every day I walk on I just want to do backflips at how happy I am to be here. I would’ve played Street Cop #3 if it meant getting to work with Chris Nolan, and I get to play Catwoman. So, if that’s the case, then I hope I don’t let him down.

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