Anne Hathaway is a famous actor with undeniable talent, range, and beauty. Maybe that’s why so many petty people hate her.
When individual people decide to attack something or someone enough to earn a collective name for themselves, it’s more than a trivial or forgettable nuisance, even when all they are wielding are words. Strangely, that is exactly what has been happening to actor Anne Hathaway over the last dozen years. Her attackers have come to be known as “Hathahaters.”
Are these attacks professional? Provoked? Deserved? A single sting is a bearable thing, but a thousand is a terrible thing to endure. Her obvious eloquence, intelligence, and success make her such an unlikely target — make “Hathahate” such an unlikely phenomenon — that it demands a closer look. What is going on? Why is Anne Hathaway so disliked?
Sometimes, actors garner a general dislike because the critical consensus is that their acting is substandard. This perception that an actor’s work is poor, and possibly damaging to a beloved story, can be deserved when actors take on roles outside their range, or simply don't have the level of talent required to play a specific kind of role. Is there evidence that either of these possibilities could explain a dislike for Anne Hathaway?
When it comes to acting, there doesn’t seem to be anything Anne Hathaway can’t do. Since her first screen role in the comedy-drama Get Real for Fox Television in 1999, she has starred in over 40 feature films across a wide variety of genres, with six of them on their way in the next two years. She has played leading roles in serious dramas, comedies, historical dramas, musicals, family movies, and even animated shows and films. Hathaway has been one of the most prolific actors of the last 20 years, and she’s still going strong in 2023.
But the secret to Anne Hathaway’s prolific career is not just her incredible range as an actor. Rather, it’s her incredible range combined with a willingness to burrow into the depths of her characters no matter the vulnerability that may entail. She can not only take on just about any role, but can also do it with undeniable excellence at a level that few others can reach. A quick look at just some of her award-winning roles shows how exceptionally talented she is.
In the 2012 film adaptation of the beloved Broadway masterpiece, Les Misérables, a relatively short amount of screen time (a combined 15 minutes) doesn’t keep Anne Hathaway from stealing the show in the company of such legendary film stars as Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, and Helena Bonham Carter. Her portrayal of the tragic character Fantine was so powerful and moving that it earned her the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress that year, in a role in which her singing talent was also on full display.
Anne Hathaway’s ability to portray realistic women in serious dramas was never so apparent as it was in Rachel Getting Married, Jonathan Demme's 2008 film about a family dealing with the devastating consequences of addiction, and the healing power of love and forgiveness. While her portrayal of Kym earned her wins for Best Actress from both the Critics Choice Awards and National Board of Review, she also earned an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Hathaway would continue to master this kind of damaged everywoman character, but with much more levity and whimsy, in the excellent film Colossal.
A role that earned her a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, The Dark Knight Rises concluded Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Batman trilogy in 2012. She gave audiences a character with convincing depth, who was confident yet troubled, strong yet vulnerable, manipulative and yet honest with herself, who believed in and hungered for a better life. (Hathaway was also a nominee for a Best Actress Saturn Award in 2014 for her superb work in another Christopher Nolan masterpiece, Interstellar.)
Winning an Emmy Award is no small accomplishment, and Anne Hathaway was able to do that in 2010 with just her voice. She has been credited in three episodes of the enduring animated comedy series, The Simpsons, but it was her second time playing Princess Penelope that earned her the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.
Even when Anne Hathaway hasn’t been recognized with awards (and she’s won well over 60 so far), it’s hard to find fault with any of her performances. As seen in Get Smart or Bride Wars, her comedic timing and flair is impeccable. Her ability to believably portray characters from another time and place is seen in films like Nicholas Nickleby and Becoming Jane. Her strong family appeal is evident in Ella Enchanted, Alice in Wonderland, and The Princess Diaries. And she’s made it impossible to imagine anyone else in her contemporary dramatic lead roles, like The Devil Wears Prada with Meryl Streep, or The Intern with Robert De Niro.
There simply is no reason to dislike Anne Hathaway’s range or talent as an actor. In both cases, it’s obvious she has a rare gift that few actors can match.
It’s also pretty clear that the actors, directors, and crews with which Anne Hathaway has worked seem to only have supportive and admirable things to say about her. People don’t hold back when anger or arrogance make a set an uncomfortable or even hostile workplace, especially when the person responsible is already fair game for public hate. All the evidence suggests that Anne Hathaway is, and has always been, a very respected coworker.
So, if neither her work nor her peers are the source of “Hathahate,” then where does it come from? It turns out that the avalanche of personal criticism that has fallen heavily on Anne Hathaway started with just a few voices. People who are paid to use editorial platforms to report on the entertainment industry and influence social media have used those platforms to express their personal dislike for the award-winning actor. Like any avalanche, it began small.
Not every actor becomes a personal target for journalists, and it really boils down to a matter of personality. Almost everyone loves a down-to-earth celebrity. Whether they are the nice version (like Hugh Jackman or Emily Blunt), or the cool version (like Kate Blanchett or Jeff Bridges), or the dignified version (like Judi Dench or Morgan Freeman), or the eccentric version (like Jeff Goldblum or Aubrey Plaza), celebrities are esteemed outside their work because of their relaxed and relatable personalities. People respond well to those who seem genuine, who feel like they could be just another one of their friends.
Anne Hathaway has one of those personalities that is the opposite of down-to-earth. It is precise, and practiced, and purposeful. It comes from a place of control, care, and confidence; she was a young teenager when she began acting professionally, after all, so 30 years in the industry has prepared for this. And just as it does for other celebrities without down-to-earth personalities — like the NFL’s Russell Wilson, or U2’s Bono — it often gets interpreted as insincere, or uptight, or arrogant. It makes the cynical person believe the worst of these people and, in their minds, justifies their desire to use their platforms to voice irresponsible opinions.
As Juanjo Villalba writes in El País, describing the shift from rising star to disliked star:
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when that changes, but inevitably something happens at some point, usually at the height of the star’s popularity. Maybe she inadvertently makes a mistake, like not greeting a child waiting for her at the door of her concert (probably because she doesn’t even see him), or she posts an unfunny joke on Instagram. It could be that someone on social media points out that she walks funny, or that she’s experienced mental health problems, or simply that “she was way cooler when she wasn’t THAT famous.
Hathaway's Oscar speech was the biggest inciting incident, leading to attacks over her apparent insincerity. Even The New York Times gave these people a voice when they ran the article, "Do We Really Hate Anne Hathaway?"
The truth is, Anne Hathaway is just Anne Hathaway. She has a bright disposition and a seemingly endless amount of vibrant energy. Her undeniable talent is built on a foundation of considerable intelligence. She probably does desire to always sound knowledgeable. Don’t we all? And she may rehearse speeches and answers for interviews ahead of time. Is that wrong? Any discerning mind should be able to see that this is simply the way she approaches things. It’s who she is, which is something that should be accepted, even embraced, but certainly not condemned.
Arrogance is an ugly character trait, and it does exist in Hollywood and elsewhere — even among writers for prestigious New York publications — but it’s just as ugly to assign that trait to someone for no better reason than a unique personality. Perhaps the real arrogance related to “Hathahate” is much more likely to be found in those who criticize others because of how they express themselves, than it is in those who have unique ways of expressing themselves.
Thankfully, many people who have disliked Anne Hathaway in the past are beginning to see they’ve been under the influence of loud but lesser minds. As Anne Hathaway continues to be Anne Hathaway, and continues to give us performances we will treasure, let’s also treasure what we have in her — an actor with incredible range, jaw-dropping talent, a bright and vibrant disposition, and a unique personality that is entirely likable.
Pure love of story has taken writer and illustrator Mark Dobratz on a long and rewarding journey of artistic appreciation and expression, from literature to fine art, from games to movies, music and more.