The Ella of "Ella Enchanted" is a beautiful, intelligent young woman who holds her own in a medieval world. Director Tommy O'Haver cast Anne Hathaway in the lead role after seeing her in "The Princess Diaries." "She has a kind of quality that reminds me of Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, with that mixture of child-like purity but also the confidence and smarts of a mature young woman. It was also so important that this character have a real sense of humor and strong comedic timing and Anne is a wonderful, natural comedienne. Shes also a fantastic singer, so she has it all, says O'Haver.
INTERVIEW WITH ANNE HATHAWAY ('Ella'):
Are you concerned that you're becoming the new 'princess-in-waiting' on screen these days? There seems to be a royal theme running through your films.
Well, considering that it runs through all 2 of my films, no I'm not that concerned about it. I knew that people would kind of raise their eyebrows if I took on yet another fairy tale, but I thought this one was so different from Princess Diaries in that Princess Diaries kind of embraces the fact that it is a fairy tale. Ella makes fun of itself because of it. But in terms of the princess role, there is only so long that you can play those as a young lady before you start feeling really ridiculous. They are so much fun to do, I figure I might as well get the most out of them while I can. Then [Ill] go off and play all the drug addicts and the prostitutes, and all the good ones you win Oscars for a little bit later on. But now I am, yes, ready to hang up the tiara [and] put the ball gown in storage.
Both those characters are modern girls with very clear ideas of what they want to do in life. Do you see a parallel between those characters and your own attitudes towards life?
Certainly. It's funny because it occurred to me yesterday that most of the films that I've made thus far, and that includes Nicholas Nickleby, were films that I would have enjoyed seeing when I was 10 years old. So I guess a part of me is just trying to reconcile my inner child and apologize to her. No, just kidding. But yes, I think certainly who I am, I believe I've always been a big believer in equality. No one has ever been able to tell me I couldn't do something because I was a girl, so I guess in that, I do have that in common with Mia and Ella.
Its very impressive that you do your own vocals in Ella Enchanted. Any thoughts about pulling a Hillary Duff and releasing an album?
No. I have no aspirations of world domination through the pop charts. None at all.
Was it their idea for you to sing?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I love singing and its something that I really enjoy doing, but I didn't want it to appear obnoxious in the film. There have been times when I've seen actors do it, where all of a sudden the character has nothing to do with having a good voice and they bust out this Aretha Franklin-style vocals against full orchestration. I'm like, Come on, that's completely cheesy and unbelievable." So when they approached me about doing this song, I initially said no because I thought it was going to be cheesy. Then we found the right song and so I thought, Ok, this would be better. But you have to understand that I'm not going to sing it as me, I'm going to sing it as Ella, which means kind of tentative in the beginning. We have to make it build to a certain point and it has to be really short. And we met all that criteria so then I just sort of went off and did it, and tried not to mess it up.
How is singing in a movie different than a regular performance?
You can alter movie singing so much because you go into the recording studio and, just technology for recording has gotten so good, you can hold out a note and they can combine a note from take 2 and a note from take 8. Just one note, that is unfathomable to me. But in that sense, you have more control over it in that way. But also when you sing on stage and people are a ways back from you, you can actually pronounce words properly and not have it look stupid. When you do it in the movies when everything is magnified 50 x 100, you should probably keep it under control and make it look more like you're speaking, I guess. That's a trick that I've learned.