It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment Anne Hathaway became the coriander of Hollywood.
For years, the 36-year-old actress has been both universally loved and violently reviled by the public in accordance with whichever way the popularity pendulum happened to be swinging. There were also a brutal few years in the past decade when criticism of the actress named after Shakespeare’s wife well and truly drowned out the praise. And the undeniable feat of her extensive box office earnings.
Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that her entry into the public sphere was as enchanting and well received as it was at the time, but I guess that’s just how things play out when Disney is the puppet master of your early career days.
Anne first came to attention in her debut film role as geeky school-girl-turned-royalty Mia Thermopolis in 2001’s The Princess Diaries. It was one of those perfect career eclipses where film critics, movie-goers and media alike were all completely beguiled by the newly-minted young actress, who looked like a fairytale come to life. In those early years, of course, Anne had a get-out-of-jail-free card in the form of youth and sweet inexperience, attributes that will always allow you a certain level of cache as long as you remember to toe the line.
It was not until landing a major movie role in 2006, as frumpy writer turned glamorous magazine assistant Andrea “Andy” Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada that Anne was bumped up to true leading lady status. However, what should have been the making of her as an actress who was in equal parts as likeable as she was bankable, was actually the role that lit the tiniest spark in what would be become a fire of hatred against the star.
While it is hard to believe that starring in a well-loved comedy could tarnish your personal brand, Anne and Andrea were never really separated in the public eye. Now, over a decade after the movie was released, it was actually her co-star, the actor Stanley Tucci, who was able to pinpoint why Anne was the only member of the main cast who walked away from that production without an extra string of popularity added to her bow.
While talking to journalist Dolly Alderton on her podcast Love Stories with Dolly Alderton, Tucci voiced his sorrow that Anne’s performance in the film was never celebrated as her colleagues’ were, which he summarised was due to the fact that each of the other cast members were tasked with creating broad, comedic and memorable characters, while it was Anne’s job to “just react to them”, something he argued was a much harder and more thankless job.
While The Devil Wears Prada stars Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep became even more universally beloved thanks to their roles as the sharp-tongued Emily and the iconic and complicated Miranda Priestly, Anne was saddled with the legacy of a more serious and straight Andy.
Ironically, it was this Andy Sachs streak of seriousness, hard work and ‘playing the good girl’ that would eventually lead to the universal hatred of Anne Hathaway and the creation of a zealous group of anti-fans known as ‘Hathahaters’.