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Hugh Dancy Talks About "Ella Enchanted"

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Anne Hathaway Hugh Dancy Ella Enchanted

Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy share a moment in the fairy tale romance, "Ella Enchanted."

Miramax Films
The classic fairy tale world is given a modern twist with the romantic comedy/fantasy, "Ella Enchanted." Hugh Dancy stars as Prince Char, a handsome teen idol who isn't overly considered with the goings on in his kingdom. That is until he crosses paths with Ella of Frell (Anne Hathaway), an intelligent beauty who's a staunch supporter of the rights of elves and ogres.

Loosely based on Gail Carson Levine’s novel, "Ella Enchanted" features singing, dancing, swordplay, romance, and lots of witty dialogue. It also features a dynamic group of actors who are captivating on screen, chief among them being the two leads - Hathaway and Dancy. These two have great chemistry, something that's absolutely essential to making "Ella Enchanted" work. In casting Dancy as the Prince, director Tommy O'Haver needed a believable actor with popstar looks and attitude. In Dancy, he found the right mix of ingredients. "He not only had the charisma, looks and intelligence to be the believable heir to a kingdom, he had a wonderfully silly sense of humor. He and Anne were just so funny together," explains O'Haver.

INTERVIEW WITH HUGH DANCY ('Prince Char')"

What was the audition process like for “Ella Enchanted?”
I'm looking at this thing here that says "extensive auditions in England" but the thing is, you're never aware of that when you go into an audition. They could be seeing you and one other guy or every other actor in England. So maybe they did, maybe not. II was just glad that Anne [Hathaway] came over to England when they did this audition so there was a sense that they really cared about the particular chemistry between those two characters.

Define chemistry?
I don't know. In my experience it's not essential to get on with the person that you're acting opposite. You can still have chemistry on screen without getting on with the person. But it just makes your job a lot easier if you don't have to gird your loins, if that's not quite the right phrase, every time you're going to do a scene with that person.

Director Tommy O’Haver said there was a lot of chemistry between you and Anne.
That's what I'm saying - on this it was apparent really from the moment that we met that it was going to be very easy. And when you've got that, it kind of adds a level of security. So then you can just start working on the story and make sure that you've got everything going in the right order, in the right direction.

What's so appealing about Anne Hathaway?
I can tell you that when I first met her, as an actress this is, I was really impressed by the way she combined charm and comedy, and blended the two seamlessly. [She] made it feel incredibly natural, which I think is the hallmark of a very good actress and a very good comedienne. You don't try and play a gag, you just offer up a character that happens to be quite funny or quirky or whatever and make it believable.

She can’t be perfect. Does she have any annoying qualities?
I don't think Anne has any annoying qualities - that's probably the most annoying thing about her. How's that for diplomacy? The honest truth is that we got on exceptionally well and I know everybody always says this but nonetheless, this film was a pleasure to make - and not just Anne - the whole cast as well, and Tommy O'Haver also. I always think that the atmosphere on set is defined by the person at the top and it kind of filters down through everybody. And he and the DP, John de Borman were just a hoot. Filming seemed to come a distant second to having a good time.

Are you a fan of this genre of film?
I don't think I've ever seen a film quite like it. I'm not particularly sure what this genre is. Fantasy if you like, yes, I am. Do I like this genre? Yes, I do, I do. But what I liked about this was the opportunity to take what I guess is a very specific genre, which is fantasy-fairy-tale, and give it a slightly different spin.

Did you do your own singing in this film?
Oh yes. The little song and dance number at the end - that's me, my voice, howling out. It was a new experience for me. I've never sung before and I've certainly never sung on screen. I think I sung on stage when I was 13 and for some reason nobody's asked me to try it again since.

Did you take voice lessons?
No, actually. We didn't have vocal lessons. But we all turned up at the studio together to record it, and there was somebody there to kind of coach us through. It was kind of really by the seat of the pants.

How about the sword-fighting? Did you have any training?
Oh for sure. I think the worse that happened there was that I hurt my thumb, but you can't complain really about that.

PAGE 2: Hugh Dancy on Period Roles, "King Arthur," and a Haunted Hotel

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Interview with "Ella Enchanted's" Anne Hathaway

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