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Practically Romantic


By John Millar - Posted on 28 February 2005

John Millar: How important in these troubled times is it that Hollywood makes these escapist fantasies?

Garry Marshall: For me, it's important. It's my living. They don't like to make them very often because so many don't do very well at the box office and they never get an award. It's such an international business now and we are seeing more and more things happening in the various types of movies. Everybody said, you can't make a romantic comedy that will play overseas; you have to have guns, action and car chases. Pretty Woman broke that. I think it is important that family movies are made. That's my opinion.

Anne Hathaway: It is important to have the ability and know-how to make all kind of good films. If that means you want to make a good film that is entertaining without cursing, or you want to make a good action film without guns, that is still entertaining. You can argue with me about it, but I loved Charlie's Angels. It's good to be able to know how to have fun with art. To make a comedy without relying on sensationalism in any way is an art of itself.

Millar: Why have musicals made a return to the cinema screen?

Julie Andrews: I think that whatever goes around comes around, particularly in filmmaking. I couldn't be more delighted. I remember when somebody said there would never be another boxing movie and suddenly Rocky came out. And look how many Rocky movies there were later. So we suddenly had boxing movies again. One of the reasons is price, because musical films are so ridiculously expensive. The era of simply breaking into song for no reason has passed, although Moulin Rouge was the exception. Certainly my hope is that musicals are coming back with a vengeance. There is an enormous amount of talent and usually what you see on Broadway will eventually show up on your screen if it has been successful, about three years later. And certainly Chicago is a wonderfully welcome return. It was brilliantly done and I thought it was a wonderful movie. There is room for everything and I hope we are seeing them coming back again.

Marshall: I think musicals went down because Marnie Nixon retired. It used to be that they would take any star and put them in a musical and Marnie Nixon would sing. Now they actually have to get people who can sing for musicals and two of the best are here (indicating Julie and Anne). I haven't done one, mostly because of the expense. I am working on the Happy Days stage musical for Broadway. Some day maybe we can make that a movie. I am also directing an opera, which is a whole other thing and very exciting. It's called The Grand Duchess Of Gerald Stein. It's an Offenbach opera. He wrote funny operas, you know, before he said, 'I'm serious; I'll do Tales of Hoffman.' And then he died; he never saw it open.

Millar: There has been talk of you recording an album?

Hathaway: It's something that I have been thinking about. Recently I was at a family function and my mom got up and sang a few songs and she was so good we were all crying and it just made me very aware that my mom has this wonderful gift that she can't share. I don't even think I am as good as her. But it made me aware that I'm in a very unique place right now where I have a lot of options open to me.

Millar: We witness you doing something that we thought we would never again see on the big screen .... singing?

Andrews: It was simply that Garry and I discussed it - and I'm not singing, I'm not making a big comeback. I call it Rex Harrison sing/speak and both Garry and I had the right to veto it. We could cut it out in a second if it did not work. And happily a very simple song with a lot of children and a lot of sing/speaking on my part and we managed to pull it off, so it's in the movie.

Millar: Are there any dream roles you would like to play?

Andrews: I have never longed to be Lady Macbeth, or Anna Karenina, or anybody like that. I've been so happy with the ones that I have been offered. There is nothing outstanding that I hope to do. I just hope that I keep getting asked because I am enjoying my life so much.

Hathaway: I hope you see my Ophelia some day and that it's not just the name of a boat. I feel really inappropriate saying this in the company that I am in but my dream role is Eliza Doolittle. I love Shakespeare and would love to play all of his great heroines. Oh and I'd love to be a Bond girl very, very much. And one more is a piano virtuoso called Clara Schumann from the 18th century. She was Robert Schumann's wife and a composer in her own right and had a fascinating life.

Millar: You've had great success early in your career, how do you keep your feet on the ground?

Hathaway: It's not easy to get carried away with success; it's a choice that a lot of people make. Think of people like Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, who are the most normal people in the entire world. No one talks about them being huge divas, or demanding only blue M&Ms. It is all about what you want from life. If you come into this business to be famous, to be pampered and to basically have your ass kissed every five seconds, yeah, it's entirely possible. You can surround yourself with people who will do all that as long as you are making money. But I'm not interested

Millar: In the film your character talks about learning by mistakes. What mistakes did you learn by?

Andrews:When I was 12, I was this child brat that I suspect most of you know that had this freak singing voice and I was doing a Sunday concert in Eastbourne. I said to my mother, 'I will pack my case, do not worry.' And it was a bank holiday and pouring with rain. I went to the theatre in my very heavy brown brogues and my socks and when I got there and unpacked, I had forgotten to bring my little flat ballet shoes and my clean socks. So there was not a shop open; there was not a chorus lady, or any other lady on the bill, that had a pair of ordinary looking shoes, and my socks had this dark ring where the rain had splattered them and my mother said, 'I'll paint a shoe on your foot, we've got the white, let's make your shoes look whiter'. And I said, 'Well, okay, but what are you going to do about the holes in my socks?' She said, 'I'll paint your foot'. And that is exactly what she did, but what was so terrible was that it was a concert hall and there were no footlights and my socks didn't dry. So wherever I went, I left white footprints. So what I learned is always to pack carefully and never forget my shoes.

Millar: What was the most extravagant thing you bought from your first big pay cheque?

Hathaway: The first big thing I bought myself was my first semester at college - American universities are ridiculously expensive - and that cost more than a car. It's very boring, I'm sorry. I also bought a really nice purse. It was green.

Andrews: The first I remember was buying a dress for an interview. But the first real thing that I ever bought, many, many years ago, was my first piece of sculpture, which was a tiny, tiny Henry Moore. In those days it was far more than I could ever afford. I still have it. It's a wonderful memento of what lovely surprises I would have in my life.

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