At the New York junket for her new Jane Austen semi-biopic Becoming Jane, actress Anne Hathaway talked with ComingSoon.net about her upcoming role of Agent 99 in Warner Bros. remake of the Mel Brooks television show Get Smart.
We asked her if it was as daunting stepping into the original Agent 99 Barbara Feldman’s shoes as it was portraying the beloved author of her new movie. “I learned on ‘Ella Enchanted’ that you’ll never make everyone happy,” Hathaway responded. “Even if you make a cute movie, if it’s based on a beloved person, a beloved book, a beloved TV series, anything beloved, you will never be able to make everyone happy. It was proven to me again with ‘Becoming Jane’ so by the time I got to ‘Get Smart,’ I really just wanted to hear that Mel Brooks, Leonard Stern and Barbara Feldman approved of my casting and they all did. Once I had that in my back pocket, I just said, ‘Okay, I feel really comfortable going off and creating now.’ I couldn’t get Jane Austen’s approval, but the people’s reaction to the film has made me feel good. In that sense, I feel more audacious playing Jane Austen, but I was equally intimidated.”
We also wondered how hard it was to play the role opposite the hilarious Steve Carell without laughing through every take, since Agent 99 is supposed to remain completely stoic and serious during his shenanigans. “I lost it on-camera and ruined a really great take once, and so then, the pressure was really on for me and I never wanted to do that again, and so I just started to work on deep breathing. I found that biting the inside of my lip helped a lot. Below frame, I was just pinching my wrist. I mean anything I could do to distract me. A lot of our scenes together didn’t shoot until the end of the film, so by that point, we were really comfortable with each other, and we really just took off and had so much fun. I hope everyone else enjoys this as much as we did, but it is completely impossible to keep a straight face.”
“You know he can’t keep a straight face around?” Hathaway asked enticingly. “Alan Arkin. We did a scene where Alan had us all in stitches, but the rest of us were off-camera so as long as we didn’t make a noise, we could just be busting a gut. Steve was on-camera with him and he just kept f*cking up the takes. It was wonderful!” So it looks like Steve Carell has his own kryptonite in his form of his Little Miss Sunshine co-star, the Oscar-winning actor who is playing the Chief in Get Smart.
Next up for Hathaway is playing a coked-up model in Jonathan Demme’s dark comedy Dancing with Shiva, co-starring the long-absent Debra Winger as Hathaway’s mother, and we’ll have more with Hathaway before Becoming Jane opens on August 3 in select cities. Get Smart is scheduled for a release on June 20, 2008.