Ever since those first set photos surfaced of Anne Hathaway looking terrifyingly gaunt and stomach-clenchingly miserable on the Les Miserables set, we’ve been against her drastic weight loss for the role. After all, she’s not in the movie long enough as Fantine to justify eating dried oatmeal paste squares to lose twenty pounds. (It’s not like Uma Thurman did so in the 1998 version.)
In addition to deriding her ridiculous diet, we’d also scrutinize video interviews, like this one where in the middle she creepily defended her drastic method acting. She was very aware of what she was doing to her body, but also seemed very matter-of-fact about losing the weight as a necessary part of her job. But I don’t think I grasped just how much it affects her emotionally until I read her review with Glamour.
Like in other interviews, Anne tackled head-on the issue of her startlingly skinny frame while shooting Les Mis. But she also provided more context for how her career shift (from Disney movies to darker fare) and relationship issues (scam artist/ex-boyfriend Raffaello Follieri has since been deported) affected her body insecurities.
Eve Ensler: This is Glamour’s Self-Expression Issue. When did you feel like you began to express yourself in a way that was authentic to you?
Anne Hathaway: I had that moment after I finished making Rachel Getting Married. I realized that the life I’d been living [was not authentic] and that I had to make a change. Then I found out that my trust had been betrayed quite massively. So for me, that call came at the end of 2007. Who was I going to be? There’s no magic bullet; there’s no pill that you take that makes everything great and makes you happy all the time. I’m letting go of those expectations, and that’s opening me up to moments of transcendent bliss. But I still feel the stress over “Am I thin enough? Am I too thin? Is my body the right shape?”
Eve Ensler: And is that an everyday obsession?
Anne Hathaway: If I’m honest, yes. There’s an obsessive quality to it that I thought I would’ve grown out of by now. It’s an ongoing source of shame for me.
Eve Ensler: Because you should somehow be different than the rest of the human race?
Anne Hathaway: I just think about the ridicule you get if you have an off day. If people weren’t watching, I’d be so much more eccentric. I know it makes me sound weak, but rather than make myself happy and wear the silly hat and say, “Oh, I don’t care,” I actually really don’t feel like getting made fun of. So I put on something boring and navy and go out and try to disappear.
At first I wondered if Anne felt obligated to talk about her body image issues since she was being interviewed by Eve Ensler (she of The Vagina Monologues) and because actresses have to play the whole “I’m just as insecure as you!” act. But I do believe that this is an actual problem that plagues her.
Now I’ve been going over our Les Mis coverage and wondering if we were one of the sites making fun of Anne. For the most part our criticism and confusion came out of genuine worry for an actress slimming down at an alarming rate. But I think that I was also sometimes glib about her weight loss, writing it off as merely part of the job. However, I applaud Anne for sharing insight into how much of a struggle it really has been and likely will continue to be now that the movie is over and everyone wants her to gain some weight — but not too much weight — back. And I’m gonna think twice before the next time I point out a candid photo of her looking shockingly thin.