Before the whole brouhaha escalates into the Third World War, I deem it wise to put things in the proper perspective.
At the outset, I want to apologize to the Honorable Senators for unwittingly stealing (part of the) thunder from themâ€¦sorry POE!
And, most importantly, I want to make it clear that I hold no grudge against or any resentment toward Anne Hathaway. I still love her dearly, even if she made me cry (no, not during the Les Miserables junket in Tokyo first week of December last year but) over her heart-wrenching I Dreamed a Dream scene in the movie for which, as the whole world knows, she lost 25 pounds. She plays Fantine with her body and soul, giving her all to the role once played by her mom, Kate Mc-Cauley Hathaway, during the musicalâ€™s national tour, doesnâ€™t she?
Our Les Miz encounter was the second. The first was in 2004 in L.A. during the junket for Princess Diaries where the great Julie Andrews played Anneâ€™s grandmother. At that time, Anne was not yet the big star that she is now, made even bigger by her recent Golden Globe Best Supporting award (yes, for Les Miz). She was as sweet and as adorable as the Princess of Genovia that she played in Diaries, although not as regal as Miss Julie who, I noticed, was just as queenly off camera, addressing by their first names the media guys during the round-table interview with a friendly smile (she politely requested everybody to introduce themselves before the interview) and taking her cup of tea with the daintiness of a lady to the manner born.
The Anne Hathaway Les Miz TV interview (as differentiated from the print interview) came out edited in Startalk two Saturdays ago, together with those of her Les Miz co-stars Amanda Seyfried (as the adult Cosette) and Hugh Jackman (as Jean Valjean), three weeks after the airing of my TV interviews (also edited) with Les Miz co-producer Cameron Mackintosh and director Tom Hooper. Nice guys, those two, very engaging and very accommodating, answering the questions with unbridled enthusiasm.
When the unedited Anne interview came out on philstar.com last week, I never imagined that it would generate that kind of reaction from netizens around the world, in the process polarizing them into pros and cons, with each side trying to drive home its point with unfathomable passion. We reviewed the tape before uploading it and, honestly, we didnâ€™t find anything wrong with it. In fact, being used to interviewing Hollywood stars for more than two decades now, I found it more amusing than anything.
As soon as Anne and I sat down for the TV interview at a suite of the posh Ritz Carlton in Roponggi Hills, we swapped â€œHiâ€™s!â€ I gave her a copy of The STAR which carried my 2004 Princess Diaries with her. Anne took a quick look at it and said, â€œOh, memories, memories!â€ and put the paper aside. I was overwhelmed by her big, beautiful eyes that highlighted her face framed by a very becoming cropped hairdo. Yes, aside from losing weight, she also lost some of her hair for Fantine (the same role played by Lea Salonga in the musicalâ€™s stage version, only a few years after she had played Eponine [played by Samantha Barks in Les Miz the movie], the only actress I know who has played both roles).
Oh yes, without her being physically present, Lea became a part of my interview with Anne even if she was in the States. You see, before flying to Tokyo, I texted Lea if she wanted me to convey any message to Anne who was quoted in a December 2012 issue of Vogue magazine as saying, â€œFirst of all, it could never have compared with Patti LuPone or Lea Salonga, or even my mom, really: powerful singers with big, beautiful voices, I knew I could never offer that, but I also knew it wouldnâ€™t be appropriate. If I went for sounding beautiful while looking like this tragic wreck, it would be ridiculous. And I saw an opportunity, because of the nature of film, to just go for it and let it be alive and present and raw.â€ (Like the rest of the actors in the movie, Anne sang live during the shoot, with the musical background put it later.)
Lea texted this message, â€œJust say thank you to Anne for me for that Vogue shoutout. Show her this text and maybe sheâ€™ll give you a hug, hehehehe!â€ Well, I didnâ€™t get â€œa hugâ€ from Anne, not that I was hoping for it.
During the TV interview (limited to no more than five minutes), I usually ask the star interviewees standard questions with expectedly not too long answers, such as, 1). How did you prepare for the role, 2). How are you similar to or different from your role? and 3). Could you invite your fans (in the Philippines) to watch the movie? (After all, the junket is meant to promote the movie, isnâ€™t it?). I reserve the rest of my questions for the round-table print interview.
I asked Amanda and Hugh the same questions and, in fairness to them, they didnâ€™t find them â€œpersonalâ€ and they proceeded to answer them during the free-flowing conversation, agreeing to invite their Filipino fans to watch Les Miz. I was surprised why Anne found â€œtoo personalâ€ the questions about how she regained the 25 pounds that she had lost and how, for somebody perceived to lead a life of comfort and luxury, she was able to identify with Fantine who, in the Victor Hugo novel on which the musical was based, was driven by poverty to prostitution.
She perked up when I showed her Leaâ€™s text message and launched into â€œpraises to high heavensâ€ for Lea. When she gave me back my cellphone, I accidentally dropped it, prompting Anne to exclaim, â€œBe careful!â€
I felt that she wasnâ€™t in the mood during the interview. I learned later that the other Asian journalists (from Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tokyo, etc.) felt the same way, recalling their own separate encounters with Anne. â€œShe seemed not to be in a good mood,â€ said one. â€œShe was a bit rude, wasnâ€™t she?â€ said another. â€œI used to love her, but not anymore,â€ said still another journalist. To appease everybody, I said, â€œI think sheâ€™s suffering from jetlag because she flew in from the States!â€ (During the print interview, asked if she was jetlagged, Anne said with a wide smile, â€œNo. Jetlag is only a state of mind.â€)
What happened during the print interview a few hours later was another story that doesnâ€™t need to be told.
Anyway, being a computer-semi-illiterate (even if I have a mini iPad and I am typing this story on my office computerâ€¦thatâ€™s the only thing I know about the computerâ€¦typing my story!), I havenâ€™t been aware of the heated exchange on The Net; I learn about it only from friends who continue to text me. I heard that the website has been getting thousands of hits, so thank you POE! Commented Tempoâ€™s Ronald Constantino, â€œMuch ado about nothing!â€
So, how do I feel about Anne Hathawayâ€™s attitude during the TV interview? Was I offended? No, I wasnâ€™t. Was I â€œintrusiveâ€? I donâ€™t think so. Did I find her â€œrudeâ€? Hmmmm, only a bit, although I must say that (ehem!) the more than 200 other Hollywood stars I have interviewed were absolutely more delightful, far nicer and totally engaging. I remember what Harrison Ford said when Kris Aquino and I interviewed him in 1997 in Hawaii for Six Days, Seven Nights (with Anne Heche as his leading lady), after I mentioned that he was reported to be media-shy, â€œI flew all the way from the US Mainland for this junket so I have to be nice to (the media) because you are the starsâ€™ conduit to the public.â€
Believe me, I repeat, I found the whole Anne Hathaway experience simply amusing. No kidding!
Now, given a chance, would I ever interview Anne Hathaway again? By all means, yes!
But next time, I would remember to ask her only â€œnot personalâ€ questions such as, 1). Whatâ€™s your favorite color?, 2). Whatâ€™s your favorite song, and 3). Whatâ€™s your favorite pet?, but never, never, a question like â€œWhat did you have for breakfast today?â€ because she might find it â€œtoo personal.â€
Meanwhile, excuse me while I rush to a theater nearby to watch Les Miz again, and cry some more over Anneâ€™s I Dreamed a Dream scene.
(Note: The title of todayâ€™s piece was inspired by the Genevieve Bujold starrer Anne of a Thousand Days in which she played Anne Boleyn who was ordered beheaded by King Henry VIII.)
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