With her long dark hair, large expressive eyes and obvious talent, Anne Hathaway was earmarked as one to watch from the time she made her primetime acting debut as eldest daughter Meghan Green in the short-lived Fox drama series "Get Real" (1999-2000). The Brooklyn-born, New Jersey-raised player developed her craft as a child performer in theater, earning her stripes in several productions at the famed Paper Mill Playhouse (including "Gigi" with Gavin MacLeod and early stagings of the musical version of "Jane Eyre"). Hathaway was reportedly also the first and (to date) only teenager accepted into the acting program at The Barrow Group based in Manhattan.
Although she had attempted to land Broadway roles, Hathaway found her height (five feet eight inches) and youth detrimental. (She was too tall to be accepted in children's roles and too young-looking to portray adult parts.) She was perfect for TV and films, though, and soon landed the part of the overachieving high schooler on "Get Real" which earned her positive critical reviews. Segueing to the big screen, Hathaway was cast in the independently produced fact-based tale of a missionary to Tonga "The Other Side of Heaven," which did not make it to theaters until 2002. Instead, audiences first saw the actress as Mia, an awkward San Francisco teen who learns she's actually royalty, in the comedy "The Princess Diaries" (2001), directed by veteran Garry Marshall. Holding her own with such talented co-stars as Julie Andrews (as her grandmother), Hector Elizondo (as an adviser) and Heather Matarazzo as Mia's pal, Hathaway proved a supple comic and displayed a commanding screen presence that could easily lead to a long and distinguished career. The actress reprised her role in the equally entertaining sequel "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" (2004), the same year she appeared in the fantasy twist of the Cinderella story, "Ella Enchanted," in which her character Ella is bound by a spell of obedience that is the reason for her shrinking violet nature.
Attempting to more into more adult territory, in 2003 Hathaway appeared in the feature "Havoc" as part of a group of Beverly Hills high school students who are heavily influenced by the hip-hop culture of kids from South Central are taught a lesson by one of their teachers when tragedy strikes the affluent teens. Though it aspired to be edgy--Hathaway ditched her good-girl image for her first nude sex scene in the film--the inauthentic movie was never able to find distribution and went staright to video in 2005. A much better step on the road to more mature roles came with her knowing performance in director Ang Lee's sensitive and haunting "Brokeback Mountain" (2005), in which she played the sexy, rodeo-riding Texan Lurleen, who becomes the well-off wife of ranch hand Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), despite his closeted, years-long love affair with another cowboy (Heath Ledger). The actress was poised to break into the elite ranks of Hollywood's leading ladies when she was cast as Andrea Sachs, the heroine of the film adaptation of the juicy bestseller "The Devil Wears Prada" (lensed 2005), a small-town girl who takes a job working for the imperious editor (Meryl Streep) of a New York fashion magazine.