Anne Hathaway remembers being asked a question by a journalist when she was a teenager that has stuck with her to this day — and inspired her to make a film like William Oldroyd’s Sundance thriller-drama Eileen.
“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?’” Hathaway said at the premiere of Eileen on Saturday at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.
“I was 16, and my 16-year-old self wanted to respond with this film,” Hathaway added. “I did not know that when I read the script, but I think a part of me hoped for this exact moment.”
Based on the novel by Otessa Moshfegh, in Eileen, Hathaway plays Rebecca, a mysterious and glamorous prison psychologist who takes a liking to Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie), a 24-year-old secretary at the prison whose father’s verbal abuse leaves her in desperate need of a friend during a bitter Massachusetts winter in 1964.
The film’s cast also includes Owen Teague, Sam Nivola, Marin Ireland, Shea Whigham, Jefferson White, and Siobhan Fallon Hogan.
Hathaway explained that making Eileen with Oldroyd allowed her to explore a story about two complicated women who are so much more than society’s narrow view of women as either good or bad.
“I’m really proud to be in this movie. I wanted to work with Will [Oldroyd] after I saw Lady Macbeth and thought it was extraordinary work, work in which I saw conflict,” Hathaway said. “I saw a study of female complication that hit me really, really deep. And I felt like Will was a filmmaker that can be trusted to tell complicated stories, especially about females. And that meant a great deal to me.”
Oldroyd’s first introduction to Sundance was when his short film “Best” won the short film competition at Sundance Film Festival: London. The screenplay for Eileen was co-written by Moshfegh and Luke Goebel. The film was produced by Oldroyd, Moshfegh, Goebel, Stefanie Azpiazu, Farhana Bhula, Anthony Bregman, Peter Cron, Johnny Holland
Ollie Madden, Jamin O’Brien, and Julia Oh.
Main Image: Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie in Eileen courtesy of Sundance.