Anne Hathaway didn’t sing in “Interstellar,” but she does croon a tune in her latest. When the movie’s titled “Song One” and is set in the lively indie music scene of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it’s to be expected. But it’s not like she’s dying to cut a record or tackle more musicals.
“I love music and I’ve always really loved singing, but I never had the fire in my belly for performing music that I did for acting,” she says. Sure, she won an Oscar for singing and acting in “Les Miserables,” and “If something comes up, a musical that’s offered, that will be a lovely thing to consider. But I’m not looking for more chances to sing.”
Still, her heart-tugging cover of that ’70s pop ballad “I Need You,” in “Song One” suggests there could be a new hobby, if she’s game. Surely some band that covers the hits of pop-rockers America is looking for a vocalist.
“I’m WAITIN’ by the phone!” she cackles.
Hathaway took on “Song One,” first as a producer, thanks to her “Margot at the Wedding” director, Jonathan Demme. The filmmaker who put Hathaway on the “serious actress” track and re-launched her career suggested she look at Kate Barker-Froyland’s script. Barker-Froyland wanted to direct, too, “and I KNEW her! She was (director) David Frankel’s assistant on ‘The Devil Wears Prada.'” Hathaway and her husband, Adam Shulman would produce. And the more Hathaway thought about the lead role, that of Franny, a harsh, judgmental scientist who rushes home because her estranged dreamer/musician younger brother is in a coma, the more she wanted to play the part.
“I didn’t, as a producer, want to say ‘Cast me!’ I wanted to give her the option. She’d worked on the script for years, and she’d always imagined Franny as 24,” Hathaway, 32, says with a chuckle. “I am many things, but I am NOT 24. Audiences wouldn’t buy me as 24.”
“Song One” gave Hathaway the chance to dive into the indie music scene that the movie captures. Franny’s way of coping with her brother’s circumstances is to read his journal, visit the clubs he haunted and places the aspiring singer-songwriter played. Along the way, she meets her brother’s idol, a British folk rocker played by Johnny Flynn.
“I got to play this wonderful woman who…thaws,” Hathaway says. “It’s always surprising to find a character like this one — so young and already so closed off, to people, to experiences. Her brother’s in a coma, but she gets to go through her own awakening here.”
Franny, and Anne Hathaway, got to see this twangy, confessional and intimate music scene through “her brother’s 19 year-old eyes. That’s just MAGICAL. It was hammered home to me, pursuing acting, as I am sure it must be for musicians, that doing this has to feel as important to you as breathing, for it to be worth it.
“This music world, it is so hard and there are no guarantees that you’ll make it…So your wanting to go into it has to come from a place of true passion, and even having that passion is no guarantee that it’ll work out. If you know that, and your heart and your gut still compel you to do it, you do it.”
Making movies is Hathaway’s passion. And while “Song One” won’t open as wide as an “Interstellar,” and reviews of the indie film have been indifferent (“Twee for two,” Henry Barnes said in The Guardian, with Variety’s Peter DeBruge praising “the grief-stricken authenticity Hathaway shows” as Franny), she still has hope :”Song One” finds its audience.
“It’s a film for people who believe in the magic of music. I know how that sounds, but it’s true. There are people in the world who feel that way, that music is as important as the next breath you take. And as a film audience, they’re under-served. Until now!”
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