Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway Turns 40: Her 12 Best Performances, From ‘The Princess Diaries’ to ‘The Devil Wears Prada’

From starring in mega hit movies to playing a destructive drug addict to a cowgirl whose husband is hiding a secret love affair, Anne Hathaway has been a high-profile Hollywood princess for more than two decades.

To celebrate her 40th birthday, Variety took a look back to rank the Oscar-winner’s 12 best film performances to date.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey, Hathaway made a splash from the start. After a brief stint in the ensemble of the Fox family drama series “Get Real,” things took off for Hathaway in 2001 thanks to the verve she brought to her portrayal of Mia Thermopolis, the heir to the throne of Genovia in Garry Marshall’s “The Princess Diaries.” Hathaway burst off the screen like a breath of fresh air, holding her own against the legengary Julie Andrews. “Princess Diaries” went on to gross over $160 million at the global box office and spawned the 2004 sequel “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement,” also with Andrews and directed by Marshall.

A star had indeed been born.

From her royal debut, Hathaway went on to star in comedies such as Madeline Bray in the Charles Dickens’ adaptation of “Nicholas Nickleby” (2002) and playing the titular character in the fantasy feature “Ella Enchanted” (2004).

When she was cast as Lureen Newsome in Ang Lee’s cowboy love story “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), she showed she had chops beyond rom-com cute. The industry knew Hathaway was going to be a force who helped define her generation of actors.

She moved on to another box office and critical smash, “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) opposite Meryl Streep. Two years later she tuned up her comedy chops with no less a master of upscale slapstick than Steve Carell in “Get Smart” (2008).

That same year, Hathaway also saw her profile soar among actors with her tour de force as a drug addict just out of rehab who returns home for her sister’s wedding in “Rachel Getting Married” (2008). Her work in the searing Jonathan Demme drama proved she was one of the industry’s most technically gifted performers. She earned her first Oscar nomination for best actress for the film, which paved the way for her musically brilliant Fantine four years later in Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables” (2012). Playing opposite star Hugh Jackman, she made the most of her minimal screentime, and belted the memorable “I Dreamed a Dream” in a one-take sensation that cemented her place in Hollywood. For that, Hathaway collected the Oscar for best supporting actress.

Since then, she’s been cast in acclaimed features such as “Interstellar” (2014), the spinoff “Ocean’s Eight” (2018) and most recently, as mother Esther Graff in James Gray’s childhood drama “Armageddon Time,” which has earned her praise.

“Armageddon Time”©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

Next on the docket for Hathaway is a slew of interesting projects including “Eileen” opposite Thomasin McKenzie, “She Came to Me” alongside Marisa Tomei and “The Idea of You” from director Michael Showalter.

Here’s Variety’s selection of Hathaway’s 12 best movie performances, along with clips from each film that highlight the essence of her talent.

Honorable mentions: “Interstellar” (2014); “The Intern” (2015); “The Witches” (2020); “Armageddon Time” (2022)

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