The way Hollywood is treating 18-year-old Anne Hathaway would make any young girl's head spin. She has director Garry Marshall declaring her "a combination of Julia Roberts, Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland" based on her performance in his film The Princess Diaries.
Hathaway, who plays a precocious, socially awkward teen who undergoes a "princess makeover" on learning she is heir to a European throne, landed her role after a single audition. She laughs off Marshall's lofty praise ("Garry would never lie to me, but, look, he also compared me to Groucho Marx because of my thick eyebrows in the movie"), but his enthusiasm, in fact, is backed up by highly promising advance word on her work opposite Julie Andrews (as the girl's Henry Higgins-ish grandmother), Heather Matarazzo and Mandy Moore. "I'm gratified that people are saying nice things about me," says the college student, "but I can also name 10 so-called It girls who can't hold a candle to someone like Judi Dench."
Hathaway has had Hollywood's attention on her ever since her acclaimed turn in the short-lived series "Get Real," but she'd already garnered abundant confidence from her parents, an attorney father ("a giving, intelligent, honest lawyer whose hero is Sir Thomas More") and a singer-actress mother who has performed in such musicals as Evita, A Little Night Music and Les Misérables ("she's brilliant and incredibly talented"). "You've heard of stage parents?" she quips. "Mine are anti-stage parents--but they love and support me." And they did, after all, launch her into the world with the name of the great playwright William Shakespeare's wife. "I like my name, certainly," she giggles. "But there was this casting director who went, 'I hope you know you have a very famous name--Jane Hathaway from "The Beverly Hillbillies"!' I just kind of stared at her. She was dead serious"