Anne Hathaway's 'Song One' Subjects: Songwriters, Not Singers

Anne Hathaway Song One Premiere H 2014
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Anne Hathaway Song One Premiere H 2014

The Oscar winner retraces how she came to sing onscreen once again — for an old friend.

Even though Anne Hathaway sings in her new film Song One, she has no aspirations to pursue a recording career. Instead, she wants to use the film to promote new music, she told The Hollywood Reporter at the film's premiere on Tuesday at New York's Landmark Sunshine Cinema, which was presented by the Film Arcade and Cinedigm with The Cinema Society and Tod’s.

"The thing that really made me the most excited about it was this idea that I was going to be able to help bring new music into the world," she said. "I don’t know how to write a song."

In the film, which also marked Hathaway's debut as a producer, she plays Franny, an academic who returns home when her brother Henry is in a coma after a car accident. She tries to rebuild a connection to him through his love of music, falling for his favorite musician along the way. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and will get a limited release on Jan. 23.

Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice wrote original music for the project, and Hathaway serves as a producer alongside her Rachel Getting Married director Jonathan Demme, her husband Adam Schulman and Marc Platt, among others. Hathaway didn't initially plan to star in the film — let along sing in it — but as she was working on the project, she fell in love with the part, which was initially written for someone younger. However when Hathaway came onboard, writer/director Kate Barker-Froyland began to shape the part around her.

"I was really writing with Anne’s voice in my head saying these lines," said Barker-Froyland who knew Hathaway from working as director David Frankel’s assistant on The Devil Wears Prada. “We did several table reads with Anne, and she would say some of the lines and I would be like, that really works, or, you know what, that doesn’t work for whatever reason. So I would cut it or I would rewrite it. And she would give me her thoughts on certain things."

For Johnny Flynn, who plays musician James Forester, the shooting experience felt personal. “My early experience of New York and the music scene here was more similar to Henry’s point of view in that I was that kid singing in the subway and trying to record songs,” said Flynn, who is also a musician. “Gradually, my experience is more like my character."
After the premiere, guests flocked to West Village haunt Omar’s for an intimate, albeit crowded, celebration. Attendees included Debra Winger, Brooke Shields, Natasha Bedingfield, Regina Spektor, and Julie Taymor, and inside the narrow basement space, with low ceilings and subtle lighting, partygoers enjoyed specialty Grey Goose cocktails, named Brooklyn Beatz and Melody in keeping with the film’s theme. Hathaway spent much of the evening in the back room, with her husband Schulman at her side, enjoying the night with friends and supporters.

“I’m really proud to have had a hand,” she said, then adding to echo the team spirit she championed the entire evening. “Amongst many people.”