From playing a lowly assistant to a powerful fashion magazine editor in 2006’s Devil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway calls the shots as a self-made fashion mogul in her latest movie, The Intern.
Starring opposite Hollywood bigwig Robert De Niro, Hathaway is Jules Ostin, founder of an e-commerce site, About the Fit, that is growing at hyper speed.
In the film directed Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, The Holiday), seventy-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (De Niro) has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at the online fashion site.
When owner and founder Jules agreed to have senior interns join the company, however, she assumed that meant seniors in college.
“Jules isn’t so great with older people,” Meyers acknowledges. “She has a bit of a bumpy relationship with her mom, so she feels she might not be the best candidate to be assigned a senior intern.”
Hathaway adds, “She resists initially because she knows the speed at which her business and her life run, and she imagines somebody older might slow her down. But the senior intern program may be just what she needs.
“Jules is a type A; she very much has the ‘lean in’ mentality,” the actress continues. “She’s incredibly smart and another thing I really like about her is she’s got an amazing heart. The reason her company is doing so well is not just because she’s so brilliant, but also because everything she does is from a genuine place of passion and vision…and that’s also a reflection of Nancy,” she smiles.
Meyers says Hathaway’s work ethic is not far removed from her character’s. “Annie has tremendous substance. She has great drive and energy on screen and is one of those rare actresses who can do it all. She’s funny when we need her to be, and so vulnerable and truthful in the more dramatic moments. She’s also not straight down the middle, she’s got a quirkiness to her, which I love.”
What begins as resistance on Jules’s part soon gives way to respect and appreciation. Hathaway attests, “In a company full of young techies with maybe not so many people skills, Ben is the person who inspires us to look up from our computers and really engage. Jules is the product of a generation that makes snap decisions: click on it, tweet it, post it, trash it; so I think she puts a lot of pressure on herself. Ben shows up and he just listens to her. He doesn’t judge, he just accepts her and brings a level of calm. She knows she’s not easy and he thinks that’s great about her. All the things that she’s afraid other people find off-putting, he sees as indicators of someone of value. He may have wanted to be needed but it turns out she needed him too.”
De Niro offers, “Jules is very ambitious and smart and has been fortunate to fill a niche with this business that she’s created. I think anytime you start something, you have to treat it with a lot of love and attention; you really have to invest yourself in it. Jules does. She is very hands-on. She extends herself and puts caring into every detail to make sure that it’s all done right.”
“The friendship that gradually forms between Ben and Jules is what kept me writing,” states Meyers. “It’s their personal connection that drives this story.”
The director also observes that De Niro and Hathaway’s chemistry established a powerful dynamic between their characters. “It’s this magical thing that happens if you’re lucky,” says Meyers. “It can’t be forced, it just happens. There’s just something special between Ben and Jules, and also Bob and Annie. And I believe it’s very palpable on screen.”
“I was so fortunate to have had Bob by my side,” Hathaway declares. “He is such a terrific guy and, it goes without saying, was wonderful as Ben. He makes these razor sharp turns in a scene and you feel chills go through your soul because that power is so strong and so focused and you’re right next to it. But he’s so modest and so laid back and easy going, you forget for a moment that he’s one of the greatest actors who have ever lived.”
Opening across the Philippines today, The Intern is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.