Sundance: Anne Hathaway Recalls Being Asked as 16-Year-Old Actress if She Was “a Good Girl or Bad Girl?”

Standing on the big stage inside Park City’s Eccles Theatre on Saturday night, Anne Hathaway took the microphone during a brief Q&A session following the world premiere of her new film, Eileen.

After saying how honored she is to be in the cast of William Oldroyd’s film alongside Thomasin McKenzie, Shea Whigham, Marin Ireland and Owen Teague, the Oscar winner offered a polite apology if what she was about to say turned into “an annoying headline.”

Hopefully, she won’t find it too annoying that her comments did, in fact, turn into a story but what she said warranted follow-up. Hathaway explained that her path towards partnering with Oldroyd on Eileen started when she saw his 2016 period piece Lady Macbeth starring Florence Pugh. “I thought it was extraordinary work. I saw a study of female complication that hit me really, really deep, and I felt like Will was a filmmaker that could be trusted to tell complicated stories, especially about females.”

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His skill meant a great deal because Hathaway said that she “just remembered one of the very first questions I ever got asked when I started acting work, which meant, you know, when I had to do press, was, ‘Are you a good girl or a bad girl?’ I was 16, and my 16-year-old self wanted to respond with this film. Though I did not know that when I read the script, I think a part of me hoped for this exact moment.”

Based on the book of the same name by Ottessa Moshfegh and adapted by Luke Goebel, Eileen follows a peculiar young woman whose dreary life stretches on toward unending misery. In frigid 1960s Boston, Eileen (McKenzie) shuffles between her father’s emotionally haunted home and the prison where she works alongside colleagues who have ostracized her. When an intoxicating woman (Hathaway) joins the staff, Eileen is taken. Just when the possibility of a salvational friendship (or maybe more) takes hold and forms a singular glimmer in Eileen’s darkness, her newfound confidant entangles her in a shocking crime.

And what a moment it was. Audience members inside the Eccles reported hearing audible gasps when the film takes dark and unexpected twists. Early response on Twitter has been overwhelmingly positive for the film, which is seeking distribution here in Park City.

See below for responses from inside tonight’s world premiere.

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