After decades of playing morally upright heroes, or complex anti-heroes, Anne Hathaway has taken a swing for the fences playing an out-and-out baddie in HBO's live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl 1983 children's novel, The Witches. In an interview with USA Today, Hathaway revealed her performance in the film was helped by the fact that she was secretly pregnant during the shoot.
"I was really happy on the days when my hormones were raging. There was no acting involved whatsoever... No one [about the pregnancy]. It was special. I had this gorgeous secret and my little pal with me and we were making something that felt so fun. Even costume designer Joanna Johnston swore she had no idea. Maybe she was being discreet. I didn't tell a soul until I knew I was out of the first trimester and then I told as few people as possible - the stunt coordinator, Bob (director Robert Zemeckis) and the producer."
The Witches tells the story of a young unnamed boy, who discovers that the world is terrorized by a secret coven of witches (think less Harry Potter and more Wicked Witch of the West). In an effort to escape the clutches of the witches in his hometown, the boy and his grandmother arrive at a luxurious hotel, where they discover a convention of witches is taking place that the oblivious hotel staff is unaware of.
After the boy accidentally overhears that the Witches plan to turn the entire world's children into mice, he and his friend Bruno are turned into mice as well. Soon the mice/children are in a race against time to get back to their human shapes and warn the rest of the hotel about the danger posed by its sinister guests.
Anne Hathaway plays the role of the Grand High Witch, and she makes the most of that title. Her take on a witch is as campy as it is disturbing, with a huge, Pennywise-like grin, and bursts of temper that signal she is not a threat to be taken lightly. The Witches also sees Hathaway reuniting with her The Devil Wears Prada co-star Stanely Tucci, who, according to the actress, was not expecting the dramatic change in her size that pregnancy entailed.
"My first scene when I was about nine weeks pregnant was with Stanley. And then I filmed my last scene with him. It was so funny, his eyes when he came in and saw me 16 weeks pregnant were like, "Oh!" I was like (shrugs), "Yeah."
This is not the first time that Dalh's book has been adapted for the big screen. In 1990, filmmaker Nicolas Roeg put his own spin on the story of The Witches, which was panned by Dalh, and was a box-office failure. Hopefully, the latest adaptation will be received better by fans and critics alike.
Featuring Jahzir Kadeem Bruno, Octavia Spencer, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Codie-Lei Eastick, Kristin Chenoweth, and Chris Rock, The Witches premiered Thursday, October 22 on HBO Max. This news comes courtesy of USA Today.