The Many Book Adaptations of Anne Hathaway

Posted by Sarah Fox

Anne Hathaway is a celebrity that has a serious addiction. No, not smoking, she kicked that one a long time ago. She cannot get enough of movies that are based on books. But not just any kind of book adaptations. She has a penchant for characters that undergo a makeover (or, in one case, a makeunder). Here's a list of book-to-film adaptations where she makes a dramatic physical transformation (and one where she should have).

The Princess Diaries

If you want your classic teen makeover, look no further than The Princess Diaries. Anne Hathaway plays Mia, an awkward teen girl, who has a tendency to trip over herself. According to the DVD commentary, Anne Hathaway's makeup team did such a good job that the other teen actors on set were whispering, "Why did she get the role? She isn't pretty." (One point for makeup artistry, zero points for teen compassion.) This all changes when she discovers she is a princess; she immediately gets a makeover from world class makeup artist her grandmother hired.  The usual makeover sequence occurs: eyebrows get tweezed, her glasses are destroyed, and her hair is straightened. There is even a dramatic unveiling where her "before" photos are pulled away from her face and the beautiful girl is revealed. If the makeover follows formula, so does the aftermath. She gains confidence, hangs out with the popular crowd, realizes they are bad news, and returns to the boy next door with a new appreciation. Only now, while wearing an amazing ball gown.

The Devil Wears Prada

Anne Hathaway’s character Andy is straight out of journalism school and is anti-fashion. Very anti-fashion. Andy wears frumpy blue sweaters and unattractive footwear before she works for Runway. After drinking the company Kool-aid, she drops some weight and starts wearing really sharp clothes, as demonstrated by a fashion montage. Despite what the fashion industry says, this does not make her a better person. It actually makes her a workaholic who is kind of terrible to those she loves. Fortunately, she gets a wakeup call in Paris, presumably becoming a better person while still wearing awesome outfits. 

Les Miserables

You cannot get a bigger makeunder than Anne Hathaway’s role as Fantine. She begins the film as a beautiful girl with thick, it’s-hard-to-believe-they-aren’t-extensions locks to a prostitute who has sold her teeth and hair to gain enough money for her starving child. Anne Hathaway went on one of those extreme diets and cut her hair in real life for the role. The character unfortunately does not fare well, but Anne does—she grabed a few awards for her dedication to the role and her ability to poignantly sign “I Dreamed a Dream.” 

Alice in Wonderland

Okay, so technically there is no makeover or makeunder in this “reimagining” of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. But there should be! Have you seen Anne Hathaway as the White Queen? She takes the monochromatic theme a bit too far—a line must be drawn when your hair, foundation, and dress are all the white (what does she do after Labor Day?). Maybe if she wore some color, she might be less creepily saccharine and sweet. It might loosen her up a bit. Or at least stop obsessing over small animals. 


Ella Enchanted 

We're detecting a bit of a fairytale princess trend in Anne's early acting career. Case in point, her turn as Ella in the film adaptation of the Newbery Honor book, Ella Enchanted. The movie fared not-so-great with critics, and many disliked the departure from the source material. But one thing is for sure, Anne's knows how to bag a royal status by the end of a film. 


Did we miss any Hathaway book-to-film adaptations? Which one is her best role? Let's chat at @quirkbooks

Sarah Fox

Sarah Fox

Sarah Fox is an editor, writer, writing consultant, and pop culture enthusiast. Besides regularly contributing to Quirk Books’ blog, she has published an edition of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. You can find her online at