Anne Hathaway Reveals Inappropriate Question Journalist Asked Her at 16

The Oscar winner was asked if she was "a good girl or a bad girl."

Since her breakout role as Mia Thermopolis in 2001's The Princess DiariesAnne Hathaway has become one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, earning two Oscar nominations and a win for Best Supporting Actress in 2013's Les Misérables. But before becoming a household name—and two years before her role as Princess Mia—Hathaway was just starting out in the industry. And her early experiences weren't all positive. As the actor recently revealed, when she was 16, a journalist asked whether she was "a good girl or a bad girl." Read on to find out why Hathaway is addressing the situation now, and how she said it's impacted her recent work.

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Hathaway's latest film just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

anne hathaway with cast of eileen 2023
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen stars Hathaway opposite Thomasin McKenzie. The thriller is set in 1960s Massachusetts and follows Eileen (McKenzie), a young secretary at a juvenile prison, who finds herself drawn to the prison's new psychologist, the glamorous and beautiful Rebecca (Hathaway).

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 21, and following the screening, Hathaway opened up during a Q&A session, Variety reported. According to the Oscar-winner, the themes in Eileen were important to her as a woman.

She explained why she wanted to be part of the movie.

anne hathaway at 2023 sundance film fefstival
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Hathaway started by saying how proud she was to be a part of the film and thanked those involved, according to a video posted by Deadline Hollywood on Twitter. Hathaway then explained that she wanted to work on the movie after she saw director William Oldroyd's 2016 drama, Lady Macbeth, which starred Florence Pugh as a woman sold into a loveless marriage with an older man.

"I thought it was extraordinary work, in which I saw … a study of female complication that hit me really, really deep," she said. "I felt like Will was a filmmaker that could be trusted to tell complicated stories, especially about females, and that meant a great deal to me."

She explained that Oldroyd's abilities resonated with her, in light of a disturbing exchange with a journalist from early in her career. "I just remembered one of the very first questions I ever got asked when I started acting and had to do press was, 'Are you a good girl or a bad girl?' I was 16," Hathaway said. "And my 16-year-old self wanted to respond with this film."

Hathaway didn't provide additional details about the exchange, nor how she felt at the time. But she did say, while she didn't know it when first reading the script for Eileen, a part of her "hoped for this exact moment" on stage.

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Women have been responding to Hathaway's story on social media.

anne hathaway at 2001 teen choice awards
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Following Hathaway's revelation, many women took to social media to comment on the exchange, BuzzFeed News reported.

"Anne has been nothing but a great actress, whose stayed in her lane, and has been treated horribly by the industry," one user wrote on a Reddit forum discussing Hathaway's statements. "I am sure she has a ton of stories like this."

Another Redditor simply asked, "When will journalists stop being creepy to teenage actors and singers honestly it's just disgusting and disappointing."

Non-famous women said they've found themselves in similar positions. "This reminded me of a hotel pool lifeguard asking me the same thing at 16. Then asked me if I kept all my clothes on. Stop it. Just stop it," one user wrote. Others shared uncomfortable questions they too were asked as minors, including about their personal hygiene.

Hathaway isn't the only actor to speak out on her experience.

Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins in "The Blue Lagoon"
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, many female celebrities have come forward to share uncomfortable experiences—some of which occurred while they were still minors. Britney Spears is one of the most noteworthy names, telling GQ in 2003 that she felt "tricked" into her infamous Rolling Stone cover at age 16.

Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown also said she'd been sexualized by the media before she turned 18, while Hollywood icon Brooke Shields recounted feeling "forced" into falling for her 18-year-old co-star Christopher Atkins on the set of 1980's The Blue Lagoon. Shields discussed the film in the Dec. 20, 2022, episode of her podcast, Now What? With Brooke Shields, and also commented on the gratuitous nudity and added that a film like that will never be made again.

Like Hathaway, Shields is also at Sundance, premiering the documentary Brooke Shields: Pretty Baby, which delves even deeper into her sexual exploitation by the film industry when she was a young teenager.

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