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Surely, Fresh Air Remembers Leslie Nielsen

The beloved actor from Airplane! and the Naked Gun franchise died Sunday. Fresh Air remembers Nielsen with highlights from a 1993 interview, in which he discussed his transition from dramatic roles in The Poseidon Adventure and Forbidden Planet to starring in spoofs and parodies.


Other segments from the episode on November 29, 2010

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, November 29, 2010: Interview with Anne Hathaway; Obituary for Leslie Neilsen.


Fresh Air
12:00-13:00 PM
Anne Hathaway: From Princesses To Passion


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest, Anne Hathaway, is best known for her roles in "The Devil Wears
Prada," as Meryl Streep's assistant at a fashion magazine; "Rachel
Getting Married," as a young woman who gets out rehab for a few days to
attend her sister's wedding; "Brokeback Mountain," in which she played
Jake Gyllenhaal's wife, who doesn't realize her husband is in love with
a man; and "The Princess Diaries," in which she played a teenager who
finds out she's a princess.

Now Hathaway is co-starring with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new film "Love
and Other Drugs," directed by Ed Zwick. Gyllenhaal plays a
pharmaceutical company rep who tries to get samples to doctors to
encourage them to prescribe those drugs. He meets Hathaway in a doctor's
office, where she's seeking a prescription refill. She has Stage 1

They're attracted to each other, but he's a real ladies' man who doesn't
want a committed relationship, and she's afraid to have a relationship
because of the medical burden it would eventually place on her partner.
Here they are in a restaurant on their first date.

Ms. ANNE HATHAWAY (Actor): (As Maggie Murdock) What's your game?

Mr. JAKE GYLLENHAAL (Actor): (As Jamie Randall) My game?

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) (Unintelligible). This is the part where we
talk about where we come from and what we majored in in college.

Mr. GYLLENHAAL: (As Jamie) You have beautiful eyes.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) That's it? That's the best you got?

Mr. GYLLENHAAL: (As Jamie) I'm serious. They're beautiful.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) Well, let's go.

Mr. GYLLENHAAL: (As Jamie) Excuse me?

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) Well, you want to close, right? You want to
get laid?

Mr. GYLLENHAAL: (As Jamie) Now?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Maggie) Oh right, right, right. I'm supposed to act
like I don't know if it's right. So then you tell me that there is no
right or wrong, it's just the moment. And then I tell you that I can't
while actually signaling to you that I can, which you don't need because
you're not really listening because this isn't about connection for you.
This isn't even about sex for you. This is about finding an hour or two
of release from the pain of being you. And that's fine with me, see,
because, well, I want the exact same thing.

GROSS: That's my guest Anne Hathaway with Jake Gyllenhaal in a scene
from the new movie "Love and Other Drugs." Anne Hathaway, welcome to

Ms. HATHAWAY: Thank you so much, Terry.

GROSS: So your character and Jake Gyllenhaal's character are both very
reluctant, for their own reasons, to commit to a real relationship, to
allow themselves to fall in love. But they're both very sexual people,
and there's a lot of sexual encounters in the movie in which you're
both, you know, naked. So what are some of the things you need to know
about what will be asked of you and what the environment will be like
before saying yes to being in that position as an actress?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Well, I wanted to just get to know Ed a bit, to figure out
who he was and where he was coming from. I mean, I didn't – based on his
other films, I didn't imagine him to be an exploitative director. But,
you know, you just want to spend time with someone to find out where
they're coming from, what their perspective is.

And it's funny because when the film was done, I went over and I had
dinner at Ed's house. And I showed up and once I saw what his home life
was like, I thought, oh, why didn't we just start here? I would have
trusted you right off the bat.

So I had to build trust with Ed, and once we did – we had the trust
built, then we explored what it would be like. And it was a real
exercise in trust. You know, oftentimes, when you're doing nudity, you
get lawyers involved, agents, managers...

GROSS: Why? What do they do?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Oh, they negotiate the shots. The director submits a shot
list, and you look over them for approval. And a lot of times, if an
actor feels the shot demands a lot of them, they'll demand money for it.

GROSS: Oh, extra money for the nudity?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Extra money for the nudity, which makes me uncomfortable.
So I don't do that. But...

GROSS: So did you have lawyers and all that getting involved?

Ms. HATHAWAY: No, no, actually we went the opposite route. We began to
approach it from that standpoint, and Jake and I called each other and
decided that we didn't want to go that route, that we wanted to put our
trust in Ed. We said to him: shoot it the way you think it ought to be
shot and give us final cut over the scenes, and let's just trust each

We made the stakes equal for both parties. And so what you see in the
film is what Ed was comfortable shooting and what Jake and I were
comfortable revealing.

GROSS: Did you screen the shots before approving them?


GROSS: And did you reject anything?

Ms. HATHAWAY: I did, I did. I cut probably a total of about five seconds
out of the nude scenes, no particular – I didn't cut whole scenes but
just shots that I felt went on a little bit too long. Maybe it was just
me being sensitive to it, but I thought that for whatever reason, I
thought the camera lingered a little bit. And Ed had no problems just
taking them out.

GROSS: One question I would ask if I was in your shoes, which of course
I would never be, is: Is the room going to be really warm if I'm taking
off all my clothes?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: You're so funny. You're absolutely right. It was something
after the first day. I thought: can we do something about this? Because
we were in a not-very-well-insulated former limousine car park that had
been transformed into a studio in Pittsburgh. And insulation wasn't, I
think, high on the list of priorities in the construction of this
particular place.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: So we had a lot of hot water bottles, a lot of warmies.
Yeah, that's a funny perspective. It's true.

GROSS: So when you see a nude scene now, do you look at it differently?
Are there technical things that you're looking for that you wouldn't
necessarily have noticed before?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Not really, no. I think what I look for is: Are the actors
invested in it? Do they seem uncomfortable? Do they look like they're
self-conscious about what they're doing?

And someone whose work I return to, or two people, actually, whose work
I return to a lot in preparation for this film to just remind myself
that it could be done were – was the work of Kate Winslett and the work
of Penelope Cruz, two amazing actresses, two of my favorite actresses,
my heroes, who have done nudity with a tremendous amount of sensitivity
and dignity within their own careers. So I knew it was possible.

GROSS: Do you ever ask yourself, like: Why do we need to do this as
actors and actresses? Why should that even be necessary?

Ms. HATHAWAY: No, I actually ask myself: Why do we have to talk about
it? You know, why is this an issue? Why do people become fixated on this
issue? I mean, I don't know about you, but I was naked in the shower
this morning.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: You know, I don't wear a bathing suit in the bathtub.

GROSS: I don't know about you, but I was alone when I was in the shower.

Ms. HATHAWAY: I was alone in the shower, as well. Nudity is a part of
life and, you know, you try to capture life in film, at least I do, and
so I wasn't too hung up about that.

GROSS: My guest is Anne Hathaway. She's starring with Jake Gyllenhaal in
the new movie "Love and Other Drugs."

Now, let's talk about another film that you did with Jake Gyllenhaal,
and that's "Brokeback Mountain." And just for – in case there's anybody
out there who doesn't know this film, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger
played two men who realize that they are in love with each other, but
they're afraid to come out. So they build these other lives, and you
become Jake Gyllenhaal's wife.

And I want to play a scene. Ennis, the Heath Ledger character, calls you
after getting back a postcard that he'd sent to Jack, and the postcard
was marked deceased. So Heath Ledger's character wants to know, like,
what's going on. So he called you, and you tell him the story of what
happened and how Jack died.

(Soundbite of film, "Brokeback Mountain")

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Lureen Newsome) I wanted to let you know what
happened, but I wasn't sure about your name or address. Jack kept his
friends' addresses in his head.

Mr. HEATH LEDGER (Actor): (As Ennis Del Mar) That's why I'm calling is
to see what happened.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Lureen) Oh, yeah. Jack was pumping up a flat on the
truck out on the back road when the tire blew up. The rim of the tire
slammed into his face, broke his nose and jaw and knocked him
unconscious on his back. By the time somebody had come along, he'd
drowned in his own blood. He was only 39 years old. Hello? Hello? Hello?

Mr. LEDGER: (As Ennis) Was he buried down there?

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Lureen) He put a stone up. He was cremated, like he
wanted. Half his ashes was interred here. The rest I sent up with his
folks. He used to say he wanted his ashes scattered on Brokeback
Mountain, but I wasn't sure where that was.

I thought Brokeback Mountain might be around where he grew up. Knowing
Jack, it might be some pretend place where bluebirds sing and there's a
whiskey spring.

GROSS: Of course, Brokeback Mountain is the place where the Heath Ledger
and Jake Gyllenhaal characters fall in love. So that was my guest Anne
Hathaway with Heath Ledger, in a scene from Brokeback Mountain.

In that scene, as you are explaining how Jack died, we're seeing, for a
few seconds, another story. You're saying he died while fixing a flat,
and what we're seeing is him being the victim of a gay-bashing, where
he's beaten to death.


GROSS: And it's very ambiguous in the movie. What are we seeing? Are we
seeing what you know to be the truth of what happened, but you don't
want to go to that truth? Are we seeing what Heath Ledger's character is
imagining what happened? What are we seeing? Do you know?

Ms. HATHAWAY: I don't. I don’t know. I never asked Ang. I played it both
ways, and those takes got merged in the final film. So I don't actually

GROSS: What do you mean you played it both ways?

Ms. HATHAWAY: I played it as though I knew what was going on with Jake's
character Jack and that he'd been cheating on me with men and that I
knew about the gay bashing. And I also played it as though I had no idea
that this is how my husband died. You know, it was a terrible accident
with a car tire. So actually, I don't really know which one wound up in
the film.

GROSS: Now, does it bother you that you didn't know? Do you think, like,
you ought to know, like, what your character knows?

Ms. HATHAWAY: No. Well, I did know within each take. But I'm an actor
who believes that film is a director's medium. And I got along so well
with Ang Lee I think partially because I showed up and I said: What
color do you need me to be today in your painting? I mean, I was so
happy to serve him and his story and his vision. So I just, I would just
do anything he told me to do.

So Ang knows the truth in his head, and it's not important to me. I
actually think I get to be a part of the film as an audience member
because I don't know, because I think the ambiguity is what is the
strength of that scene and what's heartbreaking about it.

GROSS: I should mention, this is maybe a good place to talk about it,
that your brother is gay, and he got married in Canada. And I read that
your family left the Catholic Church when your brother came out because
the Catholic Church is so, like, anti-homosexual.

So was it a hard decision or just like a no-brainer to leave the church
when your brother came out?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Well, it wasn't really like we had a family discussion
about it. We didn't sit around the dinner table and say, okay, this is
the decisive action we're going to take now. It was more something we
realized we'd all done as individuals, and then it became something that
we'd done as a family.

And gosh, was it difficult? You know, when it's family and someone is
excluding your family, and someone is not accepting of your family, it
does become a bit of a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

GROSS: So was it hard for you to leave the church? Was the church
important to you before?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Faith is important to me. You know, being raised with one
faith and having to go out into the unknown and try to cobble together
another, that was hard. But I wasn't really leaving something because I
realized I couldn't have faith in this religion that would exclude
anyone, particularly my brother, for the way he's born and for loving
someone. I mean, how do you exclude someone for love? That seems to be
the antithesis of what religion's about.

And by the way, you know, I mean to Catholic Church-bash. I do
understand that for a lot of people, the religion provides a lot of
peace and direction. But I don't know, if they could be accepting of
women and of gays, I think that the religion gets a lot of things right.

But for me, I couldn't lose myself in it. I couldn't look to it for
guidance because it's – like I said, I don't believe in this aspect.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Anne Hathaway. She stars
with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new movie "Love and Other Drugs." Let's take
a short break here and then we'll talk some more. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Anne Hathaway, and she's starring in the new movie
"Love and Other Drugs."

Now let me ask you about a role that I think was – it was a pretty
breakthrough role for you. I guess you've had several breakthrough

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: But the one I'm thinking of here is in "Rachel Getting Married,"
which was directed by Jonathan Demme.

Ms. HATHAWAY: The wonderful Jonathan Demme.

GROSS: Yeah, and in this, you play the sister of Rachel, and Rachel's
getting married. You get out of rehab for a few days to attend the
wedding. And so you've been in rehab for drug addiction. And you're very
troubled. You're very angry. And we found out later in the movie why
you're so angry at your mother.

But, you know, here you're angry at your sister. She's getting married.
So she's radiant, and you're in such trouble. So I'm going to play a
scene here where you give – this is the rehearsal dinner, and you're
giving the toast. But somehow, the toast ends up being all about you.

And as we listen to this, imagine what we actually see in the movie,
which is the camera scanning the faces of the family and friends and the
bride and groom-to-be, whose facial expressions get more and more pained
as your toast goes on. Here we go.

(Soundbite of film, "Rachel Getting Married")

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Kym Buchanan) (Unintelligible). Relax, it's seltzer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Kym) Hello, I'm Shiva the Destroyer, and your
harbinger of doom for this evening. I would like to thank you all for
coming and welcome you, even though I haven't seen most of you since my
latest stretch in the big house.

But you all look fabulous. So during the 20 minutes or so that I was not
in the hole for making a shiv out of my toothbrush, I actually did
participate in the infamous 12-step program. Twelve steps. Step, ball,
change, step, ball, change. Still waiting for the change part.

So, but, you know, as they say that relapse is an almost always
inevitable part of recovery. So I get high marks in that mode. Anywho, I
– well, as more of you know than are likely to admit, one of the steps,
actual steps, is about making amends.

So I did a lot of apologizing to people, some of whom barely remembered
me, most of whom barely remembered anything. And I apologized for, you
know, like, bouncing a check or passing out in their bathtub or flooding
their house and, you know, just basically for involving them in sordid
activities that they were desperately trying to forget.

I had to call this one girl, who was, I think 14, but she couldn't come
to the phone actually because her mom had taken out a restraining order.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Kym) But anyway...

GROSS: That's my guest, Anne Hathaway, in a scene from "Rachel Getting
Married." There is so much self-consciousness, self-hatred and anger in
that scene. What did you do to prepare to play this character and to
prepare specifically for that scene?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Oh, I love my Kymmie. I love my Kymmie and Rachel. I just
- she's my favorite. I think she always will be. She's got such a
tremendous heart, and the chips are so stacked against her in a lot of

How did I prepare? Well, I had been given the script for "Rachel Getting
Married" by, as I mentioned before, the wonderful, my beloved Jonathan
Demme. And I'd been given it about a year before we actually filmed and
I just, I don't know. I bonded with her the first time I read it.

Jonathan and I spent a year talking about the character until we got the
financing together and we filmed it. And I just – she was – I don't
know. I just tried to get inside of her head as deeply as I could. And I
did a lot of research into addiction.

GROSS: So when you're making that toast in the film, were you looking on
a large table of pained people who were listening to you and thinking,
oh my God, this is really horrible?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Well, one of the things that was so, gosh, amazing about
"Rachel Getting Married" was the way it was shot. We didn't rehearse.
And so I never had any idea how any of the actors were going to say the
lines. We never discussed backstory amongst, with each other.

Our relationships kind of were all filtered through Jonathan. And so we
all – he put us in the same film and we just kind of all played, and
there was always usually about three or four cameras in the room. We
worked out the most basic of blocking, and we just filmed it.

So that rehearsal dinner, what we did was they’d rigged cameras on
elastic and had them hanging from the ceiling. And that take was about
an hour. And the scene which winds up being probably about seven minutes
in the film was shot largely over an hour and a half in real time, and
everybody got up and made a toast.

And so I'm absorbing them. People are, like, kind of – some people are
doing, saying direct digs at Kym. Other people are completely avoiding
her, you know, ignoring her.

And so I guess I didn't have to do too much except listen to everybody.
So when I – but when I stood up, people were reacting. They were so in
the scene. There was a palpable energy shift as it went on. And, yeah,
it was quite a gift to get to make that film and make that film in that

GROSS: Do you think it gave the film a more real look because things
were not totally planned, some of the reactions were spontaneous,
genuinely spontaneous?

Ms. HATHAWAY: I think so. I think some of the funniest moments in the
movie happened because we hadn't rehearsed them. There's a scene where
my character and the beautiful Rosemarie DeWitt's character, Rachel, the
titular character of the film, they've gone to have their hair done. And
some secret gets revealed.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: Some dramatic moment happens in the hair salon. Rachel
leaves. My character has to make it home, and then we sort of, we have a
confrontation in front of the family. And one of the things that
Jonathan did was he decided he wanted to score the movie live.

So we had these wonderful musicians around all the time, and they're
playing in the background. And most scenes, it actually really enhanced
the experience. But we go through one take, and I'm just sitting there,
and I hadn't anticipated the scene would have them.

And so I go to Jonathan – or I didn't, actually. I went to the first AD
to talk to Jonathan to say: Is there any possible way we could do this
scene without the musicians? They're great. I love them but maybe not
this one.

And the note that I got back from Jonathan was: You don't like it, do
something about it. And in that scene, I wind up yelling at the
musicians and the line: God, do we have to have them all the time - was
improved, and everyone just kind of reacted to it, and the reactions you
get from that are completely spontaneous.

And so in that sense, it was invaluable. But it also...

GROSS: I remember that scene. I didn't realize...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: I didn't realize how that came about.

Ms. HATHAWAY: That's how that came about. And I what it did was, I mean,
I don't know that this process could work with every cast. But we had
Bill Irwin. We had Anna Deavere Smith. We had Rosemarie DeWitt, Mather
Zickel and I just – it was...

GROSS: Debra Winger's great in it.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Debra Winger. I mean, my goodness. I don't think it would
work with every cast, but we were all game. We're all devotees of
Jonathan. I think after the second day, we realized it was going to work
and so we just – it made us trust each other more.

GROSS: My guest, Anne Hathaway, will be back in the second half of the
show. She's starring with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new film "Love and
Other Drugs." I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross, back with Anne Hathaway.
She's starring with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new film "Love and Other
Drugs." Her other films include "The Princess Diaries," "Brokeback
Mountain," "Rachel Getting Married" and "The Devil Wears Prada."

From what I've read, it sounds like Meryl Streep is one of the actresses
you most admire, and you got - yes? That's factually true?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Yes. Yes, I am.

GROSS: Okay.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Absolutely. I was going to say yes, yes, yes, yeah.

GROSS: So you got to act with her in "The Devil Wears Prada," where she
plays the editor of a top fashion magazine, Runway. And the character's
reminiscent of Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue magazine. And so this
character, the Meryl Streep character, orders everyone around. She's
very demanding. In fact, she's absurdly demanding. And this is your job
interview with her to be her assistant. And at the end of this scene,
the art director, Nigel, walks in - and he's played by Stanley Tucci.
Meryl Streep speaks first

(Soundbite of movie, "The Devil Wears Prada")

Ms. MERYL STREEP (Actor): (as Miranda Priestly) Who are you?

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) My name is Andy Sachs. I recently
graduated from Northwestern University.

Ms. STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) And what you doing here?

(Soundbite of clearing throat)

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Well, I think I could do a good job as
your assistant. And, yeah, I came to New York to be a journalist and
sent letters out everywhere, and then finally got a call from Elias
Clarke and met with Sherry up at human resources and, basically, it's
this or Auto Universe.

Ms. STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) So you don't read runway?

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Uh, no.

Ms. STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) And before today, you had never heard
of me.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) No.

Ms. STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) And you have no style or sense of

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Well, I think that depends on what

Ms. STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) No, no. That wasn't a question.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) I was editor-in-chief of the Daily
Northwestern. I also won a national competition for college journalists
with my series on the janitors' union, which exposed the exploitation

Ms. STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) That's all.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Yeah. You know, okay. You're right. I
don't fit in here. I am not skinny or glamorous, and I don't know that
much about fashion. But I'm smart. I learn fast, and I will work very

Mr. STANLEY TUCCI (Actor): (as Nigel) I got the exclusive on the Cavalli
for Gwyneth. But the problem is with this huge feathered headdress that
she's wearing. She looks like she's working the main stage at the Golden

Ms. STREEP: (as Miranda Priestly) Uh-huh.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Andy Sachs) Thank you for your time.

Mr. TUCCI: (as Nigel) Who is that sad, little person? Are we doing a
before-and-after piece I don't know about?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: I love that line.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: Oh, Stanley, Meryl.

GROSS: So that's my guest Anne Hathaway with Meryl Streep and Stanley
Tucci in a scene from "The Devil Wears Prada."

So did you learn things from acting with Meryl Streep?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Oh, my gosh. It was getting to watch a master work every
day. Yes, I observed quite a few things that changed me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Tell us about one or two.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Her focus. I didn't realize that an actor could have that
level of focus and still be spontaneous and still - oh, gosh. Her vocal
work just amazed me, her breathing. I mean, from a technical standpoint,
I didn't know how she could be so on top of everything and still be so
relaxed. And that just really blew my mind, how deep in her bones she'd
take in a character.

I mean, it was an incredible thing to watch her transform, to have her
be Meryl in the rehearsal room, and you'd get a, you know, like a good
morning, sweetie. And then like, okay, bye. See you in a few. And then
she would completely disappear for the next 13 hours. And I just, I
don't think I'd ever witnessed acting on the cellular level that she
does it at, up close before and for such a long period of time. So I
just - it made - I'm like I want to do that. How do you do that?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Now, you mentioned her vocal technique and her breathing. Was
this, like, preparation work that you're talking about?

Ms. HATHAWAY: No. No, no. It later - I mean, the first time that I saw
her play Miranda was in the table read. And I thought, you know,
whatever - how old I was, 22-year-old I was at the time - you know, with
all my great instincts, I was, like, well, she's going to be barking out
orders. She's going to be talking loudly. She's going to be talking over
everybody. And Meryl came out with this whisper. And it was so genius to
watch, because at the table read, every last person in the room leaned
forward. And she had everyone from that point on. She had all the power
in the room, and she had all the power on set. It was something to
witness, I'll tell you.

GROSS: I'll confess, it always bothers me a little bit when somebody is,
like, really beautiful as you is supposed to be, early in the film,
somebody who's, like, so ordinary and mousy. And, like, people are just,
like, dismissing her like yuck. What? Are we doing a makeover? You know,
like, what is this? I don't even know what my question is. I just wanted
to express that, that...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: Express your outrage?

GROSS: Well, I just...

Ms. HATHAWAY: Aw, thank you.

GROSS: I just sometimes feel a little bad because that ordinary people
don't get to play ordinary roles? Do you know what I mean? It's a...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: I don't know. I don't know. I'm no, you know, Megan Fox or
Kate Beckinsale or those kind of, you know, like jaw-dropping beauties.
I think I'm a pretty regular girl. I just get - what I get to do is I
get to dress up a lot. So you're just used to seeing me all shellacked.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: But if he saw me right now, I don't think you doubt it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: My guest is Anne Hathaway. She's starring in the new film "Love
and Other Drugs."

We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Anne Hathaway, and she's starring in the new movie
"Love and Other Drugs." So I think your first big film role was "The
Princess Diaries."

Ms. HATHAWAY: Yes, it was.

GROSS: Yeah, in which you play an awkward 15-year-old who finds out that
her father was a prince and that she's actually a princess.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: And so...

Ms. HATHAWAY: The Princess of Genovia.

GROSS: Of Genovia, which I guess is like Monaco or something, a little
teeny country?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Sure. Yeah. It's a small European principality.

GROSS: Right. Okay. Fictional, of course.


GROSS: I wonder what your perspective as a woman is on the whole like
princess fantasy thing.

Ms. HATHAWAY: I never had the princess fantasy thing. So, for me, it was
more about a girl who believes she's very ordinary, who's being asked to
become bigger than herself to meet this extraordinary opportunity where
she can do a lot of good in the world. And that was always the aspect of
it that appealed to me. The whole princess aspect of it got - and I know
I should have probably been involved, because it's got princess in the
title, but that whole thing kind of passed me by.

GROSS: Well, let's hear a scene. And this is the scene where your
paternal grandmother, Clarisse Renaldi, played by Julie Andrews, tells -
you're meeting her for the first time, and she tells you that your
father was the crown prince of Genovia, and since his recent death in a
car crash, you are now heir to the throne. So here's the scene.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Princess Diaries")

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Mia Thermopolis) Why on earth would you pick me to be
your princess?

Ms. JULIE ANDREWS (Actor): (as Queen Clarisse Renaldi) Since your father
died, you are the natural heir to the throne of Genovia. That's our law.
I'm royal by marriage. You are royal by blood. You can rule.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Mia Thermopolis) Rule? Oh, no. Oh, no. No, no, no. Now
you have really got the wrong girl. I never lead anybody, not at
Brownies, not at Campfires Girls. Queen Clarisse, my expectation in life
is to be invisible, and I'm good at it.

Ms. ANDREWS: (as Queen Clarisse Renaldi) Mia, I had other expectations,
also. In my wildest streams I never expected this to happen. But you are
the legal heir, the only heir to the Genovian throne, and we will accept
the challenge of helping you become the princess that you are.

Oh, I can give you books. You will study languages, history, art,
political science. I can teach you to walk, talk, sit, stand, eat, dress
like a princess. Given time, I think you'll find the palace in Genovia a
very pleasant place to live. It's a wonderful country Mia, really...

Ms. HATHAWAY: (as Mia Thermopolis) Live in Genovia? Whoa. Whoa. Just
rewind and freeze. I'm no princess. I am still waiting for normal body
parts to arrive. I refuse to move to and rule a country. And do you want
another reason? I don't want to be a princess.

GROSS: Okay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: My guest is...

Ms. HATHAWAY: She means it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Yes. My guest Anne Hathaway with Julie Andrews in a scene from
"The Princess Diaries." Did you grow up with Julie Andrews movies like
"Mary Poppins," "Sound of Music?"

Ms. HATHAWAY: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, a staple in my household.

GROSS: So...

Ms. HATHAWAY: We're big musical theater fans, so Julie Andrews was kind
of, you know, one of our icons.

GROSS: So what was it like being in so many scenes with her?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Oh, man, I was so tongue-tied around her all the time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: I was always worried about saying the wrong thing, doing
the wrong thing. And she's the nicest person. She couldn't be warmer. I
was just incredibly intimidated. And I'm - gosh, I haven't seen that
film in years and years and years, and just listening to it, I can't
even imagine what it must've been like for her to work with me. I was so
green and so kind of at sea in a lot of ways, and she and Garry really,
you know, were kind to me and did a lot to shape my performance. And
just listening to her work in that and how she really keeps the scene on
point and I'm just kind of, you know, I don't know what I'm doing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: I'm like a boat butting against the raft, hitting it a
little bit too hard. But that is so - she was amazing.

GROSS: How old were you?

Ms. HATHAWAY: I was 17 when we shot that, and I turned 18 while we

GROSS: You are now preparing to play Judy Garland in an adaptation of
Gerald Clark's book "Get Happy," a biography of Judy Garland.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: And - so recently on "Saturday Night Live," you did Judy Garland
in a parody of the "Wizard of Oz." But I'm wondering, like, in going
back and watching Judy Garland movies and her variety show, listening to
her sing, what are some of the things that you're picking up on that
strike you as, you know, essential Judy Garland qualities?

Ms. HATHAWAY: That no matter what she was doing, no matter how unreal
the circumstances - and especially in that early work when she had to do
things that were quite a bit fluffier - she's always present. Her
emotions are present in every single scene. She knows what she's doing.
And I think the effortlessness with which she performed - when watching
the "Wizard of Oz" again in preparation for "Saturday Night Live" this
weekend, you're watching her and she was - I think she went from 13 to
15 when she made the "Wizard of Oz," because I know they filmed it over,
I think, about 18 months.

And you're watching her work with people twice, three times her age
who've had a lifetime to hone their skill, and she's matching them step
for step. And oftentimes, when she's sharing the screen with someone,
you can't take your eyes off of her. And she just, she was a prodigy.
She was an absolute prodigy, and she wore it like nothing. She wore it
like a second skin.

GROSS: Are you going to do your own singing for the movie?

Ms. HATHAWAY: There's been talk of that. I don't want to say yea or nay.
I think if I can - because, you know, I think people love Judy's voice,
and I certainly want to be able to do her voice. But I don't know if I'm
going to do it or not. There's been talk of both - or either, rather.

GROSS: Now you sang in "Ella Enchanted." You sang the Queen song...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: ..."Somebody to Love."


GROSS: And you sang in Sondheim's 75th birthday tribute.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: You did "What More Do I Need," a song from "Saturday Night."

Ms. HATHAWAY: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: It must be frustrating for you to not get a lot of chances to
sing. Oh, you were also in the Encore's production of, you know, a
revival of "Carnival."


GROSS: So is it frustrating that you don't get more opportunity to sing?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Far be it for me to complain about working.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: So if the work doesn't involve singing, I'm not - no, I
don't notice it. If I wanted to be a singer, I'd be a singer. I love to
sing, but I love acting so much more. And when I get a chance to do
both, of course, I'm happiest. I love performing. But no, no, no. I'm
very happy to be an actor who sings.

GROSS: One more thing I just went to squeeze in before our time runs
out. I read that you were originally supposed to have the role that
Katherine Heigl got in "Knocked Up," the Judd Apatow film, and that you
didn't like the idea - at the end, you know, she gets pregnant, and at
the end when she gives birth, we actually see a real birth. I mean, we
see the whole detail of it head on. Why did you decline because of that,
you know, actual footage of birth?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Well, first of all, let me just say, I love Judd, and I
had talked to him about this. And he told me that this shot was non-
negotiable. And then I thought - I had to really think about my feelings
about it. It wasn't a shot that was the problem. I actually think the
shot's great and totally - and he was absolutely right in doing it. And
his reasons for it was, you know, you have all this buildup to the
birth, what, you're going to cop out before the ending of it? And I
thought he was right. And obviously, as evidence to my new film, I'm
fine with nudity. That wasn't the issue.

For me, it was when I do nudity, it's me. It's my body up there. It's my
decision. But in approximating birth, I would be - and I know this might
sound a little off. But I hope to be a mother someday, and it's one of
the things I'm looking forward to the most in my life. And I want that
experience, that really intimate experience to be between me and them,
and my husband or my lover, or whatever my situation is at the time. And
I just couldn't, at the time - and I think I was 24 years old when that
film was, when I was attached to that film. I couldn't imagine inviting
the world into that moment of what I hope to be in my life. And I
couldn't - it's the only time I've ever felt that way as an actor.

GROSS: It must be hard to say no.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Either way, it's scary. Saying yes is just as scary as
saying no.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATHAWAY: I find that people usually find the part that they're
meant to do. And when you don't do something and someone, like this is
the perfect example. Katherine Heigl became a big, big, big, big movie
star from her work in "Knocked Up," and that was the right role for her.
That was supposed to be her role, and it was just - and the reason it
didn't work out for me was because it wasn't mine, and I'm very
comfortable with that. And I think that, you know, I look at a role like
"The Devil Wears Prada" that I got to do, I had to wait for seven girls
to turn that down. And I think the reason why it got to me was because
it was my role.

GROSS: Interesting way to look at it.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Well, you got to keep your sanity somehow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Okay. Anne Hathaway, thank you so much for talking with us.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Terry, this was such a pleasure. Thank you so much.

GROSS: Anne Hathaway stars with Jake Gyllenhaal in the new film "Love
and Other Drugs." According to Nikki Finke's website, "Deadline
Hollywood," Anne Hathaway and James Franco have been asked to host the
Academy Awards.

Here's and Hathaway singing the Queen song "Somebody to Love" from her
2004 movie "Ella Enchanted."

(Soundbite of movie, "Ella Enchanted")

(Soundbite of song, "Somebody to Love")

Ms. HATHAWAY: (Singing) Got no feel, I got no rhythm. I just keep losing
my beat. She just keeps losing her beat. I'm okay, I'm alright.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) She's all right. She's all right.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (Singing) Face no defeat. I just got to get out of this
prison cell. One day I'm going to be free, Lord. Somebody.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Somebody.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (Singing) Somebody.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Somebody.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (Singing) Can anybody find me somebody to love?

Unidentified Man: Give a little more soul.

CHORUS: (Singing) She works hard everyday.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (Singing) Everyday. I try and I try and I try. But
everybody wants to put me down. They say I'm going crazy. They say I got
a lot of water in my brain. Got no common sense. I got nobody left to
believe. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

GROSS: Coming up, we listen back to a 1993 interview with Leslie
Nielsen, the star of the film parodies "Airplane" and "The Naked Gun."
He died yesterday at the age of 84.

This is FRESH AIR.
Fresh Air
12:00-13:00 PM
Surely, Fresh Air Remembers Leslie Nielsen


Actor Leslie Nielsen died yesterday at the age of 84. We're going to
listen back to an interview with him. Nielsen started a new comedic
phase of his career in 1980 with his role as the doctor in the disaster
film parody "Airplane."

(Soundbite of movie, "Airplane")

Mr. LESLIE NIELSEN (Actor): (as Dr. Rumack) You better tell the captain
we've got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a

Ms. JULIE HAGERTY (Actor): (as Elaine Dickinson) A hospital? What is it?

Mr. NIELSEN: (as Dr. Rumack) It's a big building with patients. But
that's not important right now. Tell the captain I must speak to him.

GROSS: "Airplane" was followed with starring roles in other film
parodies, like the series of cop movie parodies "The Naked Gun" and the
horror movie parodies "Scary Movie," in which he played the president of
the U.S. Earlier, he was in over 60 films playing a lot of straight-
laced characters. In the real disaster film "The Poseidon Adventure," he
played the ocean liner captain. His straight delivery was a plus for his
role in "Airplane."

(Soundbite of movie, "Airplane")

Mr. NIELSEN: (as Dr. Rumack) Can you fly this plane and land it?

Mr. ROBERT HAYES (Actor): (as Ted Striker) Surely you can't be serious.

Mr. NIELSEN: (as Dr. Rumack) I am serious. And don't call me Shirley.

Unidentified Woman: Doctor, I've checked everyone. Mr. Striker's the
only one.

Mr. NIELSEN: (as Dr. Rumack) What flying experience have you had?

Mr. HAYES: (as Ted Striker) Oh, I flew single-engine fighters in the Air
Force, but this plane has four engines. It's an entirely different kind
of flying, altogether.

Mr. NIELSEN (as Dr. Rumack) and Unidentified Woman: It's an entirely
different kind of flying.

Mr. HAYES: (as Ted Striker) Besides, I haven't touched any kind of plane
in six years.

Mr. NIELSEN: (as Dr. Rumack) Mr. Striker, I know nothing about flying,
but there's one thing I do know: You're the only one on this plane who
can possibly fly it. You're the only chance we've got.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: I spoke with Leslie Nielsen in 1993 after the publication of his
book "The Naked Truth," in which he told a totally made-up version of
his life. Here's an excerpt of his audio version of the book.

(Soundbite of audio book, "The Naked Truth")

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. NIELSEN: (Reading) I'm an extremely fortunate person. I've been
honored by my colleagues with four Academy Award nominations. I have
twice been named Best Actor. I've won two People's Choice awards, a
Golden Globe, a Best in Show at Westminster, an American League batting
title. I've been a three-time finalist in the Publisher's Clearinghouse
Sweepstakes. I was named Mr. Week of April 23rd on Home Shopping
Network. And finally, in August 1990, I received the highest honor any
actor could ever be given, other than participation in gross receipts. I
was awarded the coveted Nobel Prize for Good Acting.

GROSS: You've become famous for lampooning square, mediocre actors in B
movie formulas.

Mr. NIELSEN: Yeah. Well, if that's for you to becoming(ph) famous for
lampooning those kinds of actors. Yeah, I'm really lampooning myself,
and I'm pretty square.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NIELSEN: And I'm pretty dumb, and I'm pretty stupid, too.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Well, this all started for you with "Airplane." How were you
chosen as one of the actors in "Airplane?"

Mr. NIELSEN: I think that David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, who
were the authors and the creators, directors, etcetera of "Airplane,"
they had written something that was just wonderfully dumb and funny. And
they knew that if Peter Graves and Lloyd Bridges and Robert Stack and
myself, that they had seen our work on television. And if we approached
their material with the same seriousness and the same gravity with which
we approached our police work television show that we were doing, that
it would be very funny.

And when I read the script I knew exactly what they were after, and it
was the greatest, you know, advent or break of my life, in a sense. But
I ended up working with people who spotted me for being the closet
comedian that I was. And from there came "Police Squad" and "Naked Gun,"
and it was the launching of the nut that is inside of Nielsen. Thank God
for it.

GROSS: How did you do the condom scene in "Naked Gun"?

Mr. NIELSEN: Very gently.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NIELSEN: You know what happened with that scene was, in the
beginning, we had a material on the condom that you could, you know,
really kind of see through, and the scene didn't work. It just didn't -
it was not funny. And eventually, David figured it out, and he had them
remake the condom, but so that you could see the outline, but you could
not see anybody inside the condom. You could see the outline of the
body, and so on. And then it worked. And I think what happened when it
didn't work was that people were spending a great deal of time trying to
look through the condom to see Priscilla or to see whatever.

GROSS: You want to describe the scene?

Mr. NIELSEN: Describe the scene?

GROSS: Yeah.

Mr. NIELSEN: Well, you know, we had this wonderful candlelit dinner, and
eventually it's apparent to Priscilla the enormous attraction she has
for me, as I for her. And we stand up, and the clothes literally fall
off our bodies as she says: I believe in safe sex. And I say: So do I.
And the next scene, at the window in the bedroom, you see this shadowy -
these shadowy images in the - in an embrace. And you see these two giant
condoms with the nipples on their heads as they maneuver and fall toward
the bed.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Many of your fans may not realize that A, you're from Canada.

Mr. NIELSEN: Yeah.

GROSS: And B, your brother in Canada has been a member of parliament,
and I believe deputy prime minister, as well?

Mr. NIELSEN: That's true. And...

GROSS: How far up north are you from?

Mr. NIELSEN: Fort Norman is the place where I spent my childhood, and
that is on the same parallel of latitude as Fairbanks in Alaska.

GROSS: Burr.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NIELSEN: It's pretty cold. You know, it gets 70 below zero.

GROSS: So what kind of house that you live in?

Mr. NIELSEN: Literally, a log cabin. In many cases up in the North, you
find log cabins like that with the sawed roof and the mud and straw and
manure kind of plaster that's in between the cracks of the logs and - to
use as a sealer, I guess, for the cabin itself. And in many cases there
was never a floor in the cabins. There was just that heavy, hard-packed
gumbo clay, which was like cement, actually, when it was properly tended

GROSS: Now, I was surprised to read that you had also studied dance with
Martha Graham when you were a kid.

Mr. NIELSEN: Well, that's part of the Neighborhood Playhouse.

GROSS: Oh, I see.

Mr. NIELSEN: They had - Martha Graham was a friend of Mrs.
Morgenthal(ph), who I believe had founded the playhouse. And so she was
kind enough to teach us modern dance. I did not know who Martha Graham
was, and I...

GROSS: You see, it just seems so out of character for me to think of all
the - the "Airplane" pilot and the cops that you've played, you know,
doing modern dance with Martha Graham.

Mr. NIELSEN: Well, I agree with you. I felt the same way.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NIELSEN: But the second year, you know, it dawned on me, you know,
who - Martha Graham and dancing, and so on. They had those, kind of a
blue jersey outfits they put on you with bell-bottomed trousers, and
this was the kind of uniform you wore on any modern dance presentation.
And, you know, I was used to cowboys and Indians and shoot 'em up and
Tarzan and swinging from the trees, not this, you know, running across
with the piano music doing hoppity-hippity and skippity-skoppity and so
on. But the second year I buckled down and really tried very hard to
learn modern dance and to be part of it. And I'm very grateful that I
did, too.

GROSS: So you got to really like it.

Mr. NIELSEN: Yes, I did. But also, you know, to have the benefit of
being taught by such an extraordinary artist as Martha Graham.

GROSS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Mr. NIELSEN: You know, I knew - I didn't know anybody, and I didn't know
about anything. So I have a lot of catching up to do.

GROSS: Would you still like to do drama?

Mr. NIELSEN: Sure. I do the one-man play "Darrow..."

GROSS: Oh, I didn't know that.

Mr. NIELSEN: ...the life of Clarence Darrow. And I admire the man so
much and I love the play, and one day I will do it again. And also, one
day down the line I'd like to do Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman."
But, you know, the disclaimer is that I don't have any ambition and I do
not have any goals, so I may not do them.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: That's refreshing.

Mr. NIELSEN: Yeah. Right. I'm happy. You know, I like people, and I like
hanging out with the people I love. And that's the name of the game for
me right now.

GROSS: Leslie Nielsen, recorded in 1993. He died yesterday at the age of

(Soundbite of TV show, "Police Squad")

Mr. NIELSEN: (as Frank Drebin) I'm Lieutenant Frank Drebin, Police

(Soundbite of a punch)

Mr. NIELSEN: (as Frank Drebin) And don't ever let me catch you guys in

(Soundbite of fighting, shouting)

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: You can download podcasts of our show on our website,

Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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