Anne Hathaway on why she quit drinking: ‘I knew deep down it wasn’t for me’

Anne Hathaway covers the May issue of Vanity Fair, mostly to promote The Idea of You. That’s the film adaptation of the book of the same name, all about a romance between a Harry Styles-like rock star and a 40-year-old divorcee. It looks cute, honestly, although I already know that Anne’s bangs are going to upset me throughout the film. As I read through this VF cover story, I was reminded again of how Anne really worries about how she’s perceived and she feels criticism really deeply. It really affects her. She’s still bringing up the “Hathahate” era from more than a decade ago as some kind of defining moment of her life. While I have understanding and compassion for Anne and what she went through, it also feels a bit like Taylor Swift and her “cancellation of 2016.” These are popular, rich, respected, beautiful women who get some pushback/criticism (deserved or not) and it absolutely rattles them to their core, to the point where they’re still talking about that three-month period of their lives where people were making fun of them years later. Some highlights from Vanity Fair:

She gave up alcohol, turned 40, and started treating herself with more grace. “This is the first time I’ve known myself this well. I don’t live in what others think of me. I know my own mind and I am connected to my own feelings.” Also: “I’m way quicker to laugh now.”

She’s always hyper-prepared for everything: “I’d rather not be unseated on the day [of filming] by my anxiety. Part of the way I can tell myself that I am okay is by having such a complete level of preparation that if I get a critical voice in my head, you can quiet it down by saying that you did everything you could to prepare.” Early in her career, she says, “I had a horrible anxiety attack and I was by myself and didn’t know what was happening. I certainly couldn’t tell anybody, and it was compounded by thinking I was keeping set waiting. Now I feel much safer going to someone in charge, pulling them to the side, and explaining, ‘I’m going through this right now.’ Most people will sit there with you for the 10 minutes it takes for you to come back down.”

The advice she got about how to handle fame: “All the advice that you’re given is to protect yourself. ‘Everybody’s dangerous and everybody’s trying to get something from you.’… People were advising me that I armor myself and keep that distance, and that I have two selves. I found that terribly confusing,” she tells me. “So I don’t do it that way. I’m not armored.”

The Hathahate era was a personal & professional low: Even though she had won an Oscar, she says, “a lot of people wouldn’t give me roles because they were so concerned about how toxic my identity had become online. I had an angel in Christopher Nolan, who did not care about that and gave me one of the most beautiful roles I’ve had in one of the best films that I’ve been a part of. I don’t know if he knew that he was backing me at the time, but it had that effect. And my career did not lose momentum the way it could have if he hadn’t backed me.”

The humiliation of the Hathahate era: “Humiliation is such a rough thing to go through. The key is to not let it close you down. You have to stay bold, and it can be hard because you’re like, ‘If I stay safe, if I hug the middle, if I don’t draw too much attention to myself, it won’t hurt.’ But if you want to do that, don’t be an actor. You’re a tightrope walker. You’re a daredevil. You’re asking people to invest their time and their money and their attention and their care into you. So you have to give them something worth all of those things. And if it’s not costing you anything, what are you really offering?”

Why she stopped drinking: “I knew deep down it wasn’t for me. And it just felt so extreme to have to say, ‘But none?’ But none. If you’re allergic to something or have an anaphylactic reaction to something, you don’t argue with it. So I stopped arguing with it.” She wants to make clear that she’s not saying this from a place of self-righteousness or judgment. “It’s a path everybody has to walk for themselves. My personal experience with it is that everything is better. For me, it was wallowing fuel. And I don’t like to wallow. The thing that I have faith in is that everybody else is going to have one or two drinks, and by the time everybody gets to two drinks, you’ll feel like you’ve had two drinks—but without the hangover.”

She was told she had no sex appeal when she was a young actress: “I was like, ‘I’m a Scorpio. I know what I’m like on a Saturday night.’ [But] The male gaze was very dominant and very pervasive and very juvenile. [Now] I feel ready to be a sexual creature out loud.”

[From Vanity Fair]

I like what she says about giving up alcohol – I think people’s relationships with alcohol can change over time, just as our bodies’ reactions to alcohol change over time. What you enjoyed and gave you pleasure at 22 doesn’t feel good or pleasurable at 35 and that’s fine. You’re supposed to grow and change. It feels a bit like Anne has her back up about it, like she’s used to people trying to pour liquor down her throat. Have your mocktail, girl, we’re not judging. The stuff about the Hathahate… sometimes I read Anne’s interviews, most of which reference that era, and I’m really left wondering if I missed something. It was real, I’m not gaslighting her about it – there was a global conversation about how Anne was/is annoying. It lasted for several months, and it was compounded by Anne’s wall-to-wall Oscar campaign and ubiquity at the time. For a sensitive person like Anne, I’m sure it was really upsetting and it truly changed the way she promotes her work and how she does interviews. But instead of being like “you know what, lesson learned, I’ll never wage an Oscar campaign like that again,” she’s spent more than a decade reminding everyone of how they used to think she was annoying for a few months. It’s bizarre.

Cover courtesy of Vanity Fair. Additional pics courtesy of Cover Images.

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24 Responses to “Anne Hathaway on why she quit drinking: ‘I knew deep down it wasn’t for me’”

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  1. Barbara says:

    I almost don’t want to say it but…I don’t mind her bangs. They’re nice and thick and frame her eyes well. Of course I say that as a person with bangs currently. 😂

    • Roan Inish says:

      I agree. She looks 10 times better in the photo with the bangs than on the cover of VF. Anne strikes me as very kind and thoughtful, a bit type A and always prepared – not unlike Meghan- and when suddenly all this criticism is slung at her it wounds her and makes her question her own realty.

    • JanetDR says:

      I don’t mind the look overall, but the way the bangs hang in Anne’s eyes kind of freaks me out.

  2. mel says:

    As a 50yo recovering people-pleasure and over-achiever let me tell you this Anne…being hyper-prepared is part of the problem. Trusting yourself, your skill is where it’s at.

    I prepare as I need to and no more. Then I leave a little room for the magic.

    • Deering24 says:

      ITA. I learned this lesson the hard way. 😔 But it was extremely difficult to scrape off all that criticism-often-couched-as-guidance–and that conditioning women get to not stand out/make a fuss/draw any kind of attention. It helps if you just give 60% and no more–that way, you wind up doing more than you think. And just doing something without endless prep helps too…

  3. Jeanne says:

    I love annie. I will always love annie. Period. Done.

    • Mario says:

      I get why it was defining for her and don’t hold it against her in the least. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there (I have, on a smaller scale, and it’s something burned into my memory, decades later, even as I am very happy, accomplished, successful, and well-regarded today).

      When you go from being seemingly well-liked, hard-working, sincere and welcome everywhere to a period where, suddenly, a narrative you KNOW is not true has taken over and you don’t know how to stop it…it’s scary on an ontological level.

      The time comes out of nowhere and it’s unsettling because suddenly, due to a narrative and associations beyond your control (most of which is false and the rest is rooted in things that are LITERALLY WHO YOU ARE and always have been—as if suddenly people seem mad at you for being 5’10”, which they seemed fine with yesterday, and you don’t know why that’s suddenly bad or how to change that even if you wanted to). And when that suddenly comes with jobs and projects you don’t get, meetings people won’t take, cancelled invitations to social events or people going “a different way” for a magazine cover or whatever, it feels like the floor has disappeared.

      For me, I was celebrated for being so nice and caring on every project. I got fun kudos for always having a band-aid, snacks, time to assist (whether cleaning out the fridge or letting someone cry on my shoulder), etc. And I always was happy to

      • Jennifer Smith says:

        Mario, I am so sorry you went through that and I want to hug you in commiseration and YES going through something like that sticks with you in ways that are ick and unshakeable and I feel keenly for Hathaway, who handled that time with grace. When she talks about it, it is a balm for everyone who has gone through something similar, and I am grateful to her for it.

    • MissF says:

      Me too. I’ve always really liked her and thought she was talented and very personable, more akin to America’s Sweetheart than bloody ghastly Aniston. She looks absolutely gorgeous on the cover of Vanity Fair.

  4. Tara says:

    I think she must be an empath. That means she can just feel the way people receive her whether she wants to or not. It was probably pretty overwhelming.

  5. AMB says:

    “But none?” struck a real chord with me – it’s what kept me drinking years after I should have given it up. Turns out, none is better for me – I don’t know about wallowing, but it was anxiety fuel, for sure.

  6. Teddy says:

    Can’t imagine what it must have been like to be the recipient of that sustained, unearned, and very public wave of hate. Of course it’s still with her. It was seriously traumatic.

  7. Concern Fae says:

    I think part of the reason it gets brought up is that so many people remember it. And saying that it was justified by her Oscar campaign is kinda shitty. That’s her job and she was being herself. People hated her for it. It reminded me so much of the hate Gwyneth got. So much of it seemed to be that they became famous without struggling for it. So it was a dress rehearsal for today’s nepo baby wars.

    • Mario says:

      I do feel like people did equate the two, but that Anne actually put in a LOT more time, work, and effort before reaching the Oscar campaign point. She’d done the Disney movies, the rom coms, the dramas, had a film bomb, had film’s succeed, and had steadily risen. Was it fast? Sure. Was it inordinately or unusually fast vis-a-vis a Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz’s rise in their time? Not really.

      Gwyneth really did seem to appear, fully formed, out of nowhere, “Bruce Paltrow and Blythe Danner’s daughter all grown up,” and suddenly she was dating celebrities, jumping women like Parker Posey in line to be crowned an “indie queen,” praised for being able to do a British accent (like she was the first one to be able to) and getting every magazine cover/plum part, all after winning a best actress Oscar in her 20s. It was a LOT and while she didn’t cause it (and no actress would turn it down), she always seemed to be unaware that she had any privilege or leg up. Even her own dad called her an a–hole during that time.

      So while I agree with your take that the backlashes felt similar, I can’t say I think the women were that similar, as one courted it, unwittingly far more than the other. Anne Hathaway was just out there literally doing her job to promote her movie and campaign and won. And people hated her for it.

    • Kitten says:

      She was doing the portion of her job that’s required–the marketing shit that a lot of actors don’t like because they just wanna act.
      Just because maybe she didn’t do it well doesn’t mean she deserved the insane amount of criticism she received. I never understood it because to me, it just showed that Anne is not good at selling herself–that was definitely not her comfort zone. She’s gorgeous, a wonderful actress and extremely unproblematic so part of that whole thing just felt like people looking for reasons to dislike her, calling her insufferable or arrogant, whatever.

    • Korra says:

      Plus, it sustained itself a lot longer than a few months. I feel it actually started heating up when she was promoting The Dark Knight Rises — this is also around the time the Les Mis trailer dropped and everyone sensed then she was going to win big during award season — and it boiled over by Oscar time. And I still remember her getting major snark when she was promoting the sequel to Rio in 2013 and Interstellar in 2014 — the latter she was cast in during the height of the Hathahate, hence her gratitude towards Christopher Nolan. It really did not die down until later in the 2010s.

      Sure, Anne has a personality that people might not connect with, but it doesn’t justify how overwhelming this got and we all know male actors get nowhere near this level of hate. Yes, people snarked on Austin Butler and Bradley Cooper’s Oscar campaigns, but that tends to only really bubble up in online spaces. The Hathahate was so intense that it spilled over into real life and was something your coworkers and grandma were bringing up in day-to-date conversation.

      • Lady Rae says:

        I only really remember this happening around the Oscar campaign for Les Mis. I don’t remember it happening before then or extending to after then

      • Duo says:

        I think the early snark were people hating on her for Cat Woman, which pivoted when Les Miserables came out, but she absolutely incurred quite a wrath for some years after her Oscar win. 2012 should have been one of her biggest career years, but it took a sour turn quite quickly.

  8. Flamingo says:

    All I remember for her 2012 Oscar year was she was overexposed. She was on the cover of every magazine. Giving interviews to every media source. Then there was the boyfriend embezzlement scandal. As far as I know or read. She did the right thing and turned over any gifts he gave her. But she still benefited from all the travel and lavish lifestyle he gave her in stolen money. Which caused the backlash since Anne with an E! was shoved down our throats at every turn. It was annoying.

    All she needed to do was take a break. Nobody ever said she wasn’t a talented actress.

  9. jo says:

    I mean, how many of us still carry around mean girl treatment from middle school? I don’t know why we get to evaluate whether someone else still gets to feel pain.

  10. Leena says:

    I fully understand her pain from that past treatment, in Hollywood there’s almost no greater insult than to be “uncool”. James Franco coined the term Hatha-haters when interviewed about their Oscar gig. Pretty shitty that he played the aloof slacker to her chipper professional and SHES the one who was dragged. Anne is such a talent, I love seeing her in this current era of her career and personal life. Get it Annie!

  11. Carol says:

    If you dig back into the archives, this site carried a lot of Hatha-hate articles and comments. I always felt terrible for Anne and am not surprised that period of her life continues to color her present. Just like Taylor Swift, she got completely defined and derided by a false narrative that affected her professional and personal life, and any attempts to expose the lie increased the abuse. They can talk about their experience as much as they want without any criticism from me. I’m happy they both seem to be living their best lives now.

  12. Kate says:

    I wish I could relate to what she says about when everyone else has had 2 drinks you feel like you’ve had 2 drinks but without the hangover. As someone who is mostly dry bc alcohol gives me migraines the worst part of abstaining for me is everyone else getting a little buzzed and relaxed and I’m still my sober, not relaxed self. Although I went to a dry party recently (the host was dry for religious reasons) and had probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a party without any close friends. Not sure why, maybe the mocktails were the key – still giving you something delicious to sip and a little sugar rush.