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Anne of a thousand hits

Anne Hathaway in her winning performance as Fantine in Les Miserables: More amusing than anything in the TV interview

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 them…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 musical’s national tour, doesn’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 Anne’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 didn’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.

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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 “Hi’s!” 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, “Oh, memories, memories!” 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 musical’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).

My two Conversations with Anne, first in 2004 for Princess Diaries where she played the Princess of Genoa and in 2012 for Les Miserables where she plays the prostitute Fantine

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, “First 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 wouldn’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.” (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, “Just say thank you to Anne for me for that Vogue shoutout. Show her this text and maybe she’ll give you a hug, hehehehe!” Well, I didn’t get “a hug” 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, isn’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 didn’t find them “personal” 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 “too personal” 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 Lea’s text message and launched into “praises to high heavens” for Lea. When she gave me back my cellphone, I accidentally dropped it, prompting Anne to exclaim, “Be careful!”

I felt that she wasn’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. “She seemed not to be in a good mood,” said one. “She was a bit rude, wasn’t she?” said another. “I used to love her, but not anymore,” said still another journalist. To appease everybody, I said, “I think she’s suffering from jetlag because she flew in from the States!” (During the print interview, asked if she was jetlagged, Anne said with a wide smile, “No. Jetlag is only a state of mind.”)

What happened during the print interview a few hours later was another story that doesn’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 computer…that’s the only thing I know about the computer…typing my story!), I haven’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 Tempo’s Ronald Constantino, “Much ado about nothing!”

So, how do I feel about Anne Hathaway’s attitude during the TV interview? Was I offended? No, I wasn’t. Was I “intrusive”? I don’t think so. Did I find her “rude”? 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, “I flew all the way from the US Mainland for this junket so I have to be nice to (the media) because you are the stars’ conduit to the public.”

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 “not personal” questions such as, 1). What’s your favorite color?, 2). What’s your favorite song, and 3). What’s your favorite pet?, but never, never, a question like “What did you have for breakfast today?” because she might find it “too personal.”

Meanwhile, excuse me while I rush to a theater nearby to watch Les Miz again, and cry some more over Anne’s I Dreamed a Dream scene.

(Note: The title of today’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.)

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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