Anne Hathaway, 32, stars in The Intern as the founder of a fashion site opposite Robert De Niro, as a 70-year-old intern who discovers that retirement isn’t what it’s cracked up to be and goes back to the workforce to work for a woman many years his junior. The movie addresses the current attitude towards youth versus experience.
The Academy award-winning actress is in New York to promote the movie.
You are of the generation that was told you can be anything or do anything. Does that ring true for you?
Yeah, of course I can be anything or do anything, but right now you just have to accept that you just won’t be paid as much for doing the same thing. I think that it’s something that we would like to very much see change but current studies show that humans cannot expect pay equality for another 85 years. So I think that’s something that we can all work together to probably improve.
What is your view about the double standards for women? You have a successful career as well as a private life. How do you achieve that balance?
I think it strikes me as odd that there’s a double standard in that I get asked about when am I going to have a family, how do I handle being in a marriage and being a successful actor? I don’t hear those questions being asked of my contemporaries who are male. So I suppose I should ask you why do you ask me the question? (laughs). Maybe between us, we will figure out the answer. Is it just because you know that there is a double standard? But in asking the question, doesn’t it perpetuate the double standard?
Well, many women face the fact that if you’re a successful woman you also experience hostility in the playground from stay-at-home mums, whereas fathers don’t. You don’t need to be an actress to know what that’s like.
Well, look, I think that we are in new territory right now when it comes to breadwinners and caregivers. I can’t say what studies have shown, but I did hear a talk that family units work best when there is a breadwinner and a caregiver. Traditionally, that has been women as caregivers and men as breadwinners and now it’s sort of up to the couple to decide for themselves. I would say that just as the career mom, or maybe I should say the working mom (but even that is disrespectful because you are working when you are staying at home raising kids), but if you have a job and you are a mom, let’s say, you are going to perhaps be perceived that you are not as committed a stay-at-home mother. But if you are a stay at home dad you are considered emasculated in some ways. So I think we need to just evolve in the way we look at that and realise that parenting is hard, period. Anybody who is doing a good job gets credit and none of us really have a right to judge each other. I say we look at the kid. Is the kid happy and is the kid healthy? That’s all that matters. How that happens is nobody else’s business.
There’s a scene in the movie about Facebook and the people who inspire you. So who inspires you?
When you kind of start out and you really don’t know anything, you want to look to the people who are doing it better than anybody, so that means Bob De Niro and Meryl and Cate Blanchett, Brando definitely.
If you weren’t an actress, what would you have been?
I was actually at a nightclub show in Spain and it was a burlesque show and I was so drawn to it, I realised that I probably would have gone into healing by day and been a burlesque artist by night. So I probably would heal people with crystals by day (laughter) and then do like a really, really classy old school burlesque at night.
What do you say to the view that Hollywood preaches all these liberal ideas and yet it’s much harder to be an older actress than it is to be an older actor?
I think Hollywood is really good at calling itself on its own problems, and so I think there have been a lot of pretty damning statistics that have come out lately. I think there are a lot of people, men and women, who want to see change. I would be shocked if we didn’t all see a tremendous amount of change in the next ten to fifteen years and I know it’s a long time but it is doable. And whenever I get really depressed I look at the success of the He for She Campaign, which I think is revolutionary and is changing the world. It’s something that Emma Watson is spearheading with the UN, the idea that in order to achieve equality, it can’t be a women’s issue and it can’t be a man’s issue. We have to find a way to work together on this. And it’s resonated, and you expect that to resonate with women but it’s resonated so strongly with men and I feel like we are thankfully getting to a more evolved place, maybe not across the board but in so many ways and so many arenas. There are so many guys in Hollywood and they have strong wives and they have daughters and they want their daughters to succeed in this world. I think that we are poised for change and I think it’s getting over the hurdle. But of course I am an optimist. (laughter)
Is Hollywood getting better when it comes to ageism?
It’s the audiences that are going to dictate what happens and what people come to see, and this isn’t a pitch for everybody to come see the movie but, (laughter) if you want to see more movies about age diversity and gender, and if you want to see women in stronger roles, you have to support those movies and you actually have to take an active interest in supporting movies like that, because Hollywood, yes it is a place that espouses liberal ideals for sure, but it is a business too and they are going to follow where the business is strongest.
You have been optioning books for some time now. How important is it for you to take control of your own destiny? Would you like to direct in the future as well?
I haven’t been drawn to direct anything yet. I mean part of producing my own stuff is just practical and I work with a very brilliant woman named Susan Bimel who has worked with a lot of actresses over the years. She told me to prepare for the slowdown that would inevitably happen in my mid-30s, so I just started optioning material so that way I would be able to work through the awkward period where people aren’t telling stories about women your age, or if there is a role for a 35 year old woman they are going to cast a 24 year old woman and by the way I have been that 24 year old woman so I can’t complain. (laughter) So part of it is that and some of it is that I come across some of this material and I want to see that movie. Like, I just optioned a sci-fi comedy with all these fantastic female characters in it and it’s about a baby shower that gets invaded by aliens and I so want to see that movie. (laughter) And whatever, if I have some clout at this stage in my career, I would love to use it to make the things that I want to see.
Is that proving to be true? Are you finding things changing as you get older?
Oh yeah, definitely. There’s an amazing, amazing group of actresses in their 20s right now and I am at a certain stage in my career where there are maybe roles that when I was in my 20s you get more considered for and they are not the lead roles, but they are really strong supporting roles and perhaps there is a perception of me being past those roles and there is an unbelievable crop of girls right now who are doing beautiful work. And so it is a little bit hard, and we haven’t seen a lot of stories about women in their 30s. I don’t know exactly and precisely why that is, but I feel really lucky and I can’t complain about it because whatever roles there are, I am getting access to them. Look at this movie; this is one of the best parts I have ever gotten to play.