Of course, every actor has their regrets. Terrible movies or in some cases bad marriages can haunt a celebrity for a long time. But Anne Hathaway laments something a bit different, and it’s something you probably wouldn’t have expected. No, it’s not Bride Wars or Valentine’s Day – critical flops though they were. In fact, what it is may very well surprise you.
Hathaway made the revelation while on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In fact, it was a night full of confessions! The star played a game which the eponymous host features on the program. And this innocent bit of fun sees celebrities tell stories about their best, worst or first times doing a particular thing.
Hathaway apparently had plenty to share there! At one point, Fallon asked, “Worst day of middle school?” The actress then recalled a day when she decided to wear her mother’s gold disco shoes to class. She thought they would be a cute nod to vintage fashion, but instead everyone stared at her in complete horror!
Hathaway told the host, “I stepped into the hallway and every single head snapped towards me and I remember thinking, ‘Oh no, I’ve made a terrible mistake.’ And I did and it was the absolute wrong choice.” Oops. The actress added, “It was so bad, my seventh grade science teacher commented on them.”
The Oscar winner had a few other confessions to make as well. Hathaway told Fallon that her first celeb crushes were Eddie Vedder and Leonardo DiCaprio. Outside of the actual game, meanwhile, Hathaway also admitted to sometimes using the concept of Santa to bribe her kids into behaving.
So, it appears that fans learned a lot about Hathaway from that appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s show. But one of the most surprising things of all was regarding her biggest regret. Like the disco shoes story, it involved the star’s mother and her childhood. And it was just as hard to go back on.
Those who’ve followed the actress’ career will know that she’s very close to her mom Kate. For instance, Hathaway made sure to thank her mother when the former accepted a Golden Globe for her performance as Fantine in the 2012 movie Les Misérables. Kate had in fact once played the same character in the stage version.
Kate McCauley Hathaway spoke to the New York Post about her famous daughter in 2019. And the matriarch remembered how her little girl absolutely loved the world of acting. Kate said, “She’d come and see me in things and concentrate with the most rapt attention you can imagine!” But neither the mom nor her husband wanted to push their children into showbusiness.
The celebrity world is, after all, a very difficult one to navigate. Kate told the newspaper, “My husband and I had seen perfectly nice children become little monsters with all that attention. We said, ‘Absolutely no, darling. Your job right now is to be a child.’” But as the young girl grew up, she remained obsessed with acting.
After doing several stage shows and interacting with other child actors, the young Hathaway became increasingly determined to make it. And at the age of just 15 she decided to look for an agent. Kate recollected that her daughter was “so smart” and agreed to the plan because she thought it might raise some money for college.
Hathaway’s parents apparently found their daughter both an agent and a manager. That said, they were determined to always have a say as well. Kate said, “I remember saying to [her], ‘You’re entering a world where all you’re going to hear is yes. We’re the ones who are going to say no when you need to hear it.’ And I think that really helped keep her grounded.”
Of course, it worked perfectly; Anne Hathaway is now a massively successful actor and by all accounts a nice person to boot. But she’s racked up a few regrets over the years. And despite her very understandable insistence on keeping her personal life as private as possible, Hathaway has talked a bit about those.
One of Hathaway’s regrets is that she dropped her firm stance on privacy briefly back in 2017. That year the actress posted a pic of her young son Jonathan – her baby with husband Adam Shulman – on Instagram. You couldn’t see the child’s face as he was watching a computer screen, but Hathaway later decided even that had been too much.
Later on that year Hathaway told the website Jezebel, “… I decided to post a shot of the back of his head, and almost as soon as I’d done it, I wished that I hadn’t. I felt like I had broken some kind of a seal in inviting people into my life. And even though I felt as though I had done it in as protective a way as I could, even though it was a moment I was incredibly proud of, I don’t know that I’ll ever do it again.”
Hathaway ramped up her devotion to privacy after that. She didn’t reveal her second son’s name for a long time after he was born in the final months of 2019. The following October – almost a full year after the birth – the star finally dropped it. While appearing on Live with Kelly and Ryan, she told them the boy was named Jack.
But Hathaway’s had some professional regrets as well. In 2020 she appeared in the movie The Witches – playing an evil fantasy character who had three elongated fingers on each hand. Though people can have that same condition in real life, and many disability activists spoke out against the film. As a result, Hathaway was horrified.
The actress wrote a long Instagram post apologizing for the situation. Hathaway said, “As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused. I am sorry. I particularly want to say I’m sorry to kids with limb differences: now that I know better I promise I’ll do better.”
The regret Hathaway revealed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon was more lighthearted, though. But it’s still something that bugs the actress a lot. She told the host that she hates her name. Yes, really. Even though it’s what everybody knows her by, she’s never liked being called “Anne.”
And yet that’s the name on her birth certificate! The beloved actress was born Anne Jacqueline Hathaway back in 1982. That’s also the name on her SAG card – the thing which grants her access to the Screen Actors’ Guild and all the benefits that come with it. Apparently, no two members can have the same name, so some performers end up changing theirs.
Though there was another famous Anne Hathaway who was born centuries before the Screen Actors’ Guild existed. For reference, this Anne Hathaway was the wife of William Shakespeare. Some media outlets have reported our Anne is actually named after the historical one, but Hathaway’s yet to confirm this.
There have been some jokey “conspiracy theories” about Hathaway and her historical namesake. Also, it hasn’t been helped by the fact that her husband Adam Shulman happens to bear a slight resemblance to Shakespeare himself! It’s all very silly, of course, but maybe that’s another reason why Hathaway dislikes her name?
Yet Hathaway would be far from the first actor to hate her name – be it the one she used professionally or not. Take Kat Dennings, for example. The latter was actually named Katherine Litwack at birth, but she disliked the sound of her surname. So, the actress simply adopted a new one when she became famous.
Nicki Minaj, on the other hand, doesn’t like her stage name. Apparently, her real name is Onika Tanya Maraj. And she told The Guardian newspaper in 2012, “One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I’ve always hated it.”
Also, that pesky no-shared-names SAG rule has led to many famous actors using something other than their birth name. For example, Elizabeth Banks was born Elizabeth Mitchell. But another SAG actor had that name, so she changed it. The same thing happened to Michael Keaton, whose real name is… Michael Douglas!
A surprising amount of actors use something other than their birth name, in fact. According to The Guardian, Michael Caine changed his from Maurice Micklewhite in 1954 after seeing a poster for The Caine Mutiny. And Jamie Foxx was born Eric Marlon Bishop. Though he reportedly changed his name to the more gender-neutral-sounding Jamie after noticing female comedians always got to go on stage first.
Though isn’t it a bit late for Anne Hathaway to change her name now? Well… yes. But she explained on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that when she first signed up to the Screen Actors’ Guild, she didn’t realize “Anne” would be the only first name people would call her by from then on.
When Hathaway first appeared on Fallon’s show, the latter asked her, “I’ve known you for a pretty long time now. I’ve heard people call you Annie, like your good friends. Do I call you Anne or Annie?” And she responded, with a grin, “Call me Annie! Everybody, everybody, call me Annie – please!”
Hathaway asked Fallon, “Can we talk about my name for a second?” She went on, emotionally, “Let’s spill the tea! So, when I was 14 years old I did a commercial and I had to get my SAG card, and they asked me, ‘What do you want your name to be?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it should be my name. My name’s Anne Hathaway.’”
The actor went on, “So that seemed like the right choice, but it never occurred to me that for the rest of my life people would call me Anne. The only person who ever calls me Anne is my mother, and she only does it when she’s mad at me. Like, really mad.”
Hathaway has a good relationship with her mother, but you never forget how you were told off as a kid. The actress went on, “So, every time I step out in public and someone calls my name, I think they’re gonna yell at me. People are like, ‘Anne!’ And I’m like, ‘What? What did I do?’”
And it turned out Fallon himself had a similar secret to reveal! He told Hathaway, “My mom would call me my middle name, ‘James Thomas.’” Yep, “Jimmy” is a nickname, too – though you’ve probably never heard Fallon be called it. Hathaway replied, “I doubt anyone’s ever like, ‘James Thomas, how are you?’”
What should people call Hathaway instead, then? Well, they are apparently advised to use Annie. She told everyone watching the show, “Please, just feel free [to call me Annie]. People are so lovely, they don’t want to be presumptuous, and so they come up with workarounds on set because, the truth is, no one is comfortable calling me ‘Anne’ ever.”
Hathaway went on, “It doesn’t fit, I’m an Annie. And so people call me ‘Miss H,’ people call me ‘Hath,’ so feel free to call me anything but Anne!” That’s what her mother does – when she’s not cross with her, anyway. You might remember that in the aforementioned interview Kate gave to the New York Post she referred to her daughter as “Annie.”
A couple of things changed after that Jimmy Fallon interview hit the internet. Hathaway’s Instagram account kept the old username “annehathaway” and the name “Anne” still featured prominently. But the name “Annie” suddenly appeared on the bio section surrounded by two emoji hearts. For reference, it hadn’t been there the previous year.
The reaction from viewers of the interview was a pretty positive one. One person wrote in the YouTube comments, “My parents named me ‘Anne’ and have always called me Annie as well! I have always gone by Annie my entire life and had to correct teachers, coworkers, coaches, etc. every first day of everything, so I felt this! I never knew this about ‘Anne’ Hathaway… I feel so validated now!”
Others realized that they’d heard Hathaway’s fellow actors call her “Annie” before – not knowing that had always been her favored name. It turned out that both Emily Blunt and John Krasinski had called her that when they were on The Graham Norton Show. Another user said, “I do recall Julie Andrews referring to her as Annie in interviews, I just thought Julie was being sweet.”
A few people also brought the old Shakespeare joke up again. One person commented, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet – written by some guy married to Anne Hathaway.”
And it was pointed out that Fallon hadn’t actually referred to the actress as “Annie” after she’d asked people to do that. He’d announced, “Anne Hathaway, everybody!” at the end of the segment. One commenter wrote, “So he ends the interview by calling her Anne – twice. She’ll be known as Anne Hathaway forever.”
Ah, but will she be known as Anne? After the interview went up the Madame Tussauds museum made an interesting announcement on Instagram. It read, “Earlier this week, Anne Hathaway revealed on [Fallon’s show] that she prefers to be called Annie! So, our team went to work! We’ve got your back, Annie! New name plate coming soon…!”
So, should you ever visit that museum, you’ll see Hathaway with her preferred name ascribed to her. Probably movie-wise she might stick with “Anne” though. The poster for her upcoming movie Locked Down still has that name on it. But hey, now you know what to call the star should you ever meet her!