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Anne Hathaway reflects on “Brokeback Mountain” on the landmark film’s 10th anniversary

Anne Hathaway was best known for Disney’s The Princess Diaries when casting was taking place for the tragic gay love story Brokeback Mountain.

The actress says in the current issue of Out Magazine that she was contacted for the role of Alma, the character married to Heath Ledger’s closeted character. But upon reading the script, Hathaway only had eyes for the role of rodeo queen Lureen who marries Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, also a closeted gay man.

‘I read the script, and was, of course, blown away by it, but I remember thinking, “Alma’s not my part – I’m Lureen,”‘ Hathaway says in an article marking the film’s 10th anniversary.

‘It’s not dissimilar to the feeling of meeting someone that will become very important to you on some soul level. It had that same magnetic pull that I feel for certain very important people. And like all of those wonderful feelings, it made me hot, it made me flush, it made my blood pound.’

The role of Alma eventually went to Michelle Williams who earned an Oscar nomination for her performance. Ledger and Gyllenhaal also earned Oscar nods and although Hathaway did not, the film helped her break free from any Disney typecasting.

She was filming Princess Diaries 2 on the Universal Lot where she met with director Ang Lee during her lunch break.

‘We were shooting the coronation part of the movie, so I was dressed a ball gown, wearing this big hairpiece that was way over the top, but also worked for a rodeo queen, so it was fine. I just put on my jeans and a plaid flannel shirt, and drove across the lot in a golf cart with my big princess hair. I remember being very, very calm, which is unusual for me under any circumstances, especially at 21. I just felt so centered and focused, and in way like a predator: I knew what I wanted.

‘People were struggling to see me as anything other than a Disney princess at the time, so to get the endorsement from Ang made me realize that maybe I could take this a bit further. It made me think for the first time that I could be a legit artist.’

But the actress told a fib when Lee asked her during the audition if she could ride a horse.

‘My parents have given me a lot of gifts in my life, and one of them is: If you’re ever asked if you can do anything, say yes. You can learn anything in two weeks if you’re motivated enough. So I’d never been on a horse, and I replied, “Oh yeah, I’m a really good rider.” So I knew I had to learn to ride, and I got really, really, really good.’

Hathaway would leave her Disney past behind and earn a best actress Oscar nomination for Rachel Getting Married then win the Academy Award for supporting actress three years later for her performance in the musical  Les Miserables.

Now 32, she ranks Brokeback Mountain as a milestone event in her career and in the culture.

‘The four of us were taken out to this restaurant in Calgary by the producers, and I remember sitting there and looking at beautiful Heath, and Jake, and Michelle, and it hit me that we were all under 25. It’s funny how recent it was, but at the time we were very far away from this burgeoning humanist moment that we’re having now with gay rights.

‘And it felt like a very big and important step—a statement about love, about the need for love, about the consequences of limiting people. And I was just so blown away that these four 25-year-old kids could bring this to life, especially the three of them.’

FILE UNDER: Actors/Actresses

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  1. Anne Hathaway is so smart and charming and talented in everything she does. Splendid interview.

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