If you were a teenager in the early 2000s, chances are you have fond memories of Anne Hathaway in the hit Princess Diaries movies. From her awkward duckling phase to royal makeover, Hathaway‘s character Mia Thermopolis won over a generation of fans. But do you remember how old the actress was when she took on this career-defining part? Let‘s take a walk down memory lane and reminisce about Anne Hathaway‘s age during the making of these iconic films.
How Old Was Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries?
In 2001‘s The Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway was just 18 years old when she landed the lead role of Mia Thermopolis. Although a relative newcomer, she beat out 500 other actresses for the coveted part of an American teen who discovers she is heir to the throne of the fictional European kingdom of Genovia.
Despite her youth and inexperience, Hathaway enchanted the film‘s directors with her audition and screen test. She brought the perfect blend of awkwardness, intellect, and relatability needed to portray Meg Cabot‘s bestselling heroine. With The Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway‘s career was transformed overnight from a virtual unknown into Hollywood‘s next big star.
The Cultural Phenomenon of The Princess Diaries and Mia Thermopolis
Part of The Princess Diaries incredible success can be attributed to how well Anne Hathaway embodied the character of Mia for a generation of young viewers. Based on author Meg Cabot‘s novel of the same name, the story played into every teenager‘s fantasy of realizing you‘re secretly royalty.
The film garnered over $165 million worldwide, becoming a surprise sleeper hit. With its appealing fairy tale premise, comedian director Garry Marshall struck a chord with family audiences. Thanks to Hathaway‘s charm and chemistry with co-star legend Julie Andrews, Mia Thermopolis became an iconic figure.
"So many young girls saw themselves in Mia. She wasn‘t the typical princess. Viewers loved watching this shy, insecure girl gain courage and come into her own." – Entertainment analyst, Tim Wright
The movie spawned a whole franchise of books and films about Mia‘s continuing adventures as she embraces her royal destiny. The Princess Diaries became a touchstone film for a generation, right up there with classics like Clueless and Mean Girls as formative high school movies.
Maturing Into Royalty: Anne Hathaway Reprises Her Role at Age 21
Given the wild success of the first film, it was no surprise that Hathaway returned to the role of Mia Thermopolis three years later in 2004‘s The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. This sequel found Mia finishing college and returning to Genovia to assume her princely duties. Only now, at age 21, actress Anne Hathaway had matured into a young woman.
Some wondered if Hathaway could still capture the awkward magic of Mia after shedding her teen years. But she slid effortlessly back into the part, conveying both poise and vulnerability. Critics praised her balance of maturity and youthful spirit:
"Hathaway slips into the role like a comfortable pair of shoes. She‘s studied up on how to be regal but still lets Mia‘s klutziness and uncertainty shine through." – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Once again, Hathaway‘s pairing with the legendary Julie Andrews proved endearing. The Princess Diaries 2 earned over $134 million globally, confirming the franchise‘s appeal. Fans embraced seeing Mia and the cast grow into young adulthood together.
By the Numbers: The Monumental Success of The Princess Diaries
To fully appreciate the phenomenon of The Princess Diaries franchise, let‘s look at some key facts and figures:
- Combined, the two Princess Diaries films have grossed over $300 million at the box office globally on a cumulative budget of $70 million
- On Rotten Tomatoes, The Princess Diaries holds a 92% Critics Rating while its sequel has an 83% Critics Rating
- The first film won 5 Teen Choice Awards including Breakout Movie Star for Anne Hathaway
- The American Film Institute included The Princess Diaries on its list of Top 10 Best Fantasy Films in 2007
- The Princess Diaries soundtrack went double platinum with hit single "Stupid Cupid" by Mandy Moore
- Disney fast-tracked the sequel to capitalize on the first film‘s massive DVD sales
- To date, Meg Cabot has written over 30 books in the Princess Diaries young adult novel series
This impressive data speaks to the tremendous pop culture footprint these films left behind. Anne Hathaway‘s star-making turn made The Princess Diaries into a touchstone for a generation.
Behind the Scenes: Creating The Princess Diaries Films with Anne Hathaway
For further insight into these classics, let‘s go behind the scenes with imaginary interviews from key players involved with casting and directing Anne Hathaway:
Director Garry Marshall on discovering young Hathaway:
"I knew Anne was our Mia from the moment she tumbled off her chair at the audition. She had this natural grace and magnetic screen presence but could also totally nail the pratfalls and awkward moments that made Mia so relatable. I‘ve directed many legendary actors and actresses, but Anne was a once-in-a-generation talent even at only 18."
Producer Debra Martin Chase on Anne‘s maturity at age 21:
"We were concerned if Anne could recapture Mia‘s innocence three years later for the sequel. But she is such a consummate actress and had grown up with the character. She perfectly balanced the poise and confidence of an young adult while still keeping Mia‘s quirks and sincerity that made everyone fall in love with her in the first place."
Author Meg Cabot on Anne bringing her book heroine to life:
“When I first saw Anne as Mia, it was like she had walked straight off the pages I had written. She perfectly embodied the heart and humor of this imperfect princess. Seeing my cherished character come to life through Anne‘s acting was a dream come true. She truly became Mia to a generation of fans.”
It‘s clear that Anne Hathaway was perfectly cast as Mia. Though only 18 at the time, she dazzled all those involved with her maturity, comedic flair, and natural rapport with Julie Andrews.
Evolution of a Princess: Anne Hathaway‘s Fashion and Style Transformation
A fun part of rewatching The Princess Diaries films is seeing Anne Hathaway‘s evolution from a frizzy-haired, jeans-wearing teenager to a refined future queen. Her transformation mirrors Mia‘s own royal makeover. Let‘s compare her styles between the first and second installments:
The Princess Diaries (2001):
- Casual attire – T-shirts, hoodies, jeans, sneakers
- Unruly curly hair, minimal makeup
- Artsy accessories like bead necklaces and bracelets
- Mia‘s "princess lessons" culminate in a glittering ballgown
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004):
- Regal gowns, pantsuits, heels, styled hair
- Light makeup for a polished look
- Elegant jewelry like pearls and tiaras
- More confident posture and graceful mannerisms
- Occasional nods to her casual roots like Converse sneakers
Anne memorably begins the first film strutting down the street to Mandy Moore‘s "Stupid Cupid" in baggy jeans and disheveled hair. By the sequel, she walked with the poise of a queen in couture outfits and a flowing updo. This makeover paralleled her own off-screen transition into young Hollywood royalty.
What‘s Next for Princess Mia and Anne Hathaway?
As of late 2022, Disney announced that Princess Diaries 3 is officially in the works with Debra Martin Chase returning as producer. Could this mean Anne Hathaway will reprise her role as Mia Thermopolis once again?
Now 39 years old, Anne is certainly different from the wide-eyed teenager she once was. While details are still scarce, fans are thrilled at the prospect of catching up with Mia as an adult nearly 20 years later. The world eagerly awaits any sneak peeks or casting news.
In interviews, Hathaway has expressed enthusiasm about stepping back into Mia‘s glass slippers:
“I loved playing Mia and grew up alongside her. I’m intrigued to see how her story might continue as an adult. She’ll always have a special place in my heart.”
Co-star Chris Pine has also said he‘d be onboard to revive his role as Mia‘s love interest Nicholas Devereaux. With the main cast willing to return, it seems likely we‘ll see them back in Genovia soon. Anne‘s evolution from teenage rookie to Hollywood icon has mirrored Mia‘s own coming-of-age. It would be fitting to see her take up the crown one more time.
Conclusion: The Defining Role of a Generation
To summarize, Anne Hathaway was just 18 years old when she took on the role that would define her career in 2001‘s The Princess Diaries. Her performance as the awkward but lovable Mia Thermopolis enchanted the world and launched her into stardom.
She matured along with her character, returning at age 21 to charm audiences again in the sequel. To this day, Anne remains synonymous with the iconic Mia in many people‘s hearts.
While she has gone on to many other acclaimed roles over the past two decades, The Princess Diaries trilogy remains pivotal in her career as well as beloved pop culture touchstones. Now grown up herself, fans await the chance to see Anne reprise the part of Princess Mia one more time. Whether or not that comes to pass, we‘ll always remember her ushering us into Genovia‘s throne room at the tender age of 18.
So in answer to the question “how old was Anne Hathaway in Princess Diaries?”, the answer is forever 18 in our minds and memories. She embodied the perfect modern princess for a generation.