Anne Hathaway gets message from Lea Salonga

By Miguel Dumaual,

Posted at Jan 19 2013 03:45 PM | Updated as of Jan 20 2013 02:20 AM

Hollywood star blocks 'personal question' from Pinoy columnist

MANILA, Philippines – Anne Hathaway is all praises for Filipina singer Lea Salonga, who had taken on the role of Fantine in "Les Misérables" before the American actress did in the acclaimed motion picture adaptation of the stage musical.

Anne Hathaway. Photo by Jason Redmon, Reuters

The 30-year-old actress, who rose to fame in 2000 for her role in the Disney film "The Princess Diaries", appeared thrilled to receive a message from Salonga in a video interview posted by The Philippine Star.

The SMS message was relayed to Hathaway by veteran entertainment columnist Ricky Lo, who sat down with the actress for a one-on-one interview.

"I hope to meet her too. Oh my gosh, I adore her," the actress said after reading the message.

When asked on how she compares with Salonga in terms of portraying Fantine, Hathaway said, "I think if you think of me as an actor who sings, rather than a singer, I would probably be more impressive. But Lea has one of the great voices of our time."

She added, "I don't think there's vocally anything that she can't do. And she's made a career as a singer, so I have complete deference to her, and then of course my mother who has a very, very beautiful voice as well."

Salonga played Fantine -- an innocent woman who is forced to become a prostitute -- on Broadway and on the 25th anniversary concert of "Les Misérables" in 2010.

Hathaway's mother, Kathleen McCauley, on the other hand, took on the same role in a touring production in the United States more than 20 years ago.

Of watching her mother portraying the ill-fated character, Hathaway added, "I was very moved, I cried. It was very meaningful to me."

The actress was also asked by Lo on whether she had been given pointers by her mom, a topic Hathaway had touched on in earlier interviews on the role. Responding to the Filipino columnist's question, however, Hathaway simply said, "No."

'Personal question'

Earlier in the four-minute interview, Lo initially asked Hathaway on the weight loss that was required of portraying Fantine: "You lost 25 pounds for Fantine. How did you do it, and how did you gain it back?"

At first laughing, Hathaway said, "I'd rather not talk about the weight loss, please."

In the December issue of Vogue magazine, Hathaway discussed at length the process she had undergone to lose weight. Before the start of filming, the actress told the American publication that she went on a "strict cleanse diet" and lost 10 pounds then followed it with "a near-starvation diet, consisting of two thin squares of dried oatmeal paste a day."

"I had to be obsessive about it—the idea was to look near death. Looking back on the whole experience—and I don’t judge it in any way—it was definitely a little nuts. It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that’s who Fantine is anyway," she said at the time.

Lo, in his interview with Hathaway, then asked how else she had prepared for the role. She said she had to do "historical research" to understand how being a sex slave in 1823 can take "an emotional toll on a human being."

After asking Hathaway on Salonga's take on Fantine, Lo followed up with, "For somebody who is perceived to live a life of luxury and privilege, how are you able to identify with Fantine? Have you ever experience to be hungry, be poor... just like the character?"

The actress answered, "That's a very personal question."

After touching on Hathaway's favorite scenes in the movie and which ones were particularly difficult to film, her Oscar nomination, and possibly taking on more roles in musicals, Lo asked the actress for any message to Salonga.

Hathaway pleasantly declined: "We've already talked about Lea."

She also responded to Lo's request to invite Filipino audience to watch the film, saying, "Why don't you invite them? I think they'd much rather hear it from you."

On social networking sites, the video of the interview immediately went viral Friday night.

Some netizens called the interview "awkward" and "painful to watch." Others noted the apparent "cultural" differences in the interview, which may have mismatched expectations from both sides.

The Philippine Star has since unpublished the video interview.