Anne Hathaway: ‘Being funny feels riskier than being sincere’

Anne Hathaway was the cover star of a recent issue of Porter Magazine (net-a-porter’s in-house online mag), all to promote Eileen, the film adaptation of Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel. You can see the trailer for Eileen here – it genuinely looks amazing and it feels like Anne could possibly be an awards-season contender. Anne is in her 40s and she’s years past the “Hathahate” era, yet she learned a lot from that era and she still chooses her words carefully and you can tell that she’s still quite guarded with how she presents herself. Or maybe this was just kind of a blah interview! Some highlights:

She was scared of making wrong moves for a long time: “I feel like I lived in a space for a really long time where I was so afraid of doing it wrong and so tightly connected to the idea of doing it right. It makes not a damn bit of difference if you do it right or wrong. The point is, are you having a good time? Do you feel like yourself? And is it working with you?”

The love she still gets for The Devil Wears Prada & other faves: “It is such a sweet feeling to know that you’re kind of woven into someone’s life. I can’t describe the honor of knowing that I’m involved in the moments where people need comfort. It makes me really excited that my journey as a performer has connected with people. I love [when] projects have a life beyond their initial release.”

Her family life: “It’s something I feel is not just essential for my health – I’m on a team, it’s my family, and it’s not just about me,” explains Hathaway, who lives in New York with her husband, actor-turned-jewelry designer Adam Shulman, and their two young sons. “My family has needs, and one of the needs of children is that they need to be able to define their own lives. It doesn’t even occur to me to link the two up, except through gratitude that they serve each other so beautifully. But they serve each other through me, and not through a space that’s outside of myself.”

Being a working actress in her 40s: “There’s really good seasoning on the pan in a lot of the relationships in my life, and I feel like I’m still growing,” she says. But, as established as she is, nothing is taken for granted. More than once, she mentions how grateful she is to “be invited back to the table” and have the chance to take new risks. “When I started out [in this industry] as a child, I was warned that my career would fall off a cliff at the age of 35, which is something I know a lot of women face. The thing that has evolved during [that time] is that more women are having careers deeper into their lives, which I think is fantastic. Obviously, it doesn’t mean we should have a ticker tape parade – someone said this to me the other day: ‘There’s so much to be proud of and there’s so much to fix.’”

Prioritizing sincerity over humor: “Being funny feels riskier than being sincere, because I think my sense of humor is different to what people think my sense of humor is going to be; I think it’s easily misunderstood, and sharper. Part of the reason I feel an extra pressure to make sure I’m very clear about what I say, and how I say it, is because I trust the sincerity. Also, the world has so many spiky things in it – do I really need to throw a barb out there? I don’t think so. I would much rather put my sweetness out, and lead with that.”

[From Porter]

“Being funny feels riskier than being sincere” is it though? Maybe for Anne, but in general, people use humor to deflect, to avoid sincerity, to mask their pain. Sincerity is a risky business! But it’s interesting that she thinks she has a sharper, more prickly sense of humor. Maybe she’s right and people will take that sarcasm as anger or whatever. And I really love the projects Anne has chosen in recent years – I don’t know which scripts she’s getting and what she’s turning down, but she’s become such an exciting actress.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images, cover courtesy of Porter’s IG.

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8 Responses to “Anne Hathaway: ‘Being funny feels riskier than being sincere’”

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  1. Lisa says:

    Or she just isn’t funny and I’m truly tired of this narrative that people can’t take a joke. Yes we can you just have to be good at delivering it.

    • Caribbean says:

      @Lisa, Exactly.
      The work joke is used to back pedal a nasty remark in a lot of cases.
      Or I see people tearing, or putting down people and saying that is comedy.
      If you are not being incredibly rude and shady (to other people [not them]), some do not think it is funny. For example, I hear that some are saying that Trevor Noah was not funny as he did not rip into the celebs at the 2024 Grammy. He was incredibly funny and current! BTW, where is it written that a ‘host’ is supposed to be rude? People like jokes, what people often don’t like is when they have to cringe in the name of comedy.

  2. Teddy says:

    Have always been a fan. Loved her in Rachel Getting Married.

  3. Ameerah M says:

    I actually think she is speaking specifically about herself. She spent a long period of time being lampooned for everything she said and did and I can understand not wanting to feed into that.

  4. Eurydice says:

    I’m not sure what she means by “being funny,” but I know that standup comics tailor their acts for specific audiences and they can react to the mood of the audience right away if things aren’t going well. On social media, the audience is the entire planet and you don’t know if a joke didn’t land until there’s a raft of people screaming for your head. Much easier to be sincere (and bland), but even then – you could say “I like cheese” and then you’d get howls about lactose intolerance and methane-producing cows and whether sheep are better than goats.

  5. teecee says:

    That’s interesting because I find the opposite to be true, at least for me. I will often make a joke instead of saying something straight out because it allows me to gauge a reaction and it gives me the “out” of “I was joking…”

    (I don’t do this in an obnoxious/mean way — it’s more like I’ll make fun of myself about something I’m insecure of to see if others think it, too. It’s not my best quality but I don’t want anyone thinking I was making bigoted remarks, etc.)

  6. R2D8 says:

    All I know is that her impression of Claire Danes’ character on Homeland was one of the funniest things I’ve seen on SNL. It’s probably on YT, she’s hilarious.