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Anne Hathaway recently shared some interesting behind-the-scene Brokeback Mountain tidbits at a chat with the film’s director Ang Lee located in Beverly Hills and hosted by Louis XIII (cognac) and The Film Foundation. It’s been ten years since Lee brought her in to audition initially for the role of Alma, the wife of Heath Ledger’s character, Ennis. Hathaway was adamant however that she should instead read for the Texas rodeo queen Lureen, wife of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Jack. Even though the role was smaller, she insisted to the casting team, “Just trust me.” Lee was taken by her audition performance and said he knew immediately that Hathaway would get the part. “She was brilliant,” he said. But he needed to ask her if she was able to ride horses, a required skill for the role. “He asked me, and it was that classic thing where I said, ‘Oh, I can do that,’” Hathaway admits now, acknowledging that she actually knew nothing about riding. Then she secretly started training before filming commenced, hoping she’d be able to pull off the riding scenes. But things didn’t go quite as planned. Rather, on the set atop a massive rodeo horse, Anne reflected, “I get out there during the first rehearsal and the horse would not do anything I wanted it to,” and she fell off the horse. “I realized after about ten seconds I was going to die!” As she describes it, the horse “only had two speeds, which were stop and lightning.” In fact, she needed the horses to be swapped twice to get through the scene. A disappointed Lee exclaimed, “I thought you could ride!”

actor-who-lie.jpgNow realizing the danger she put herself through, it’s not clear if she would again boldly lie outright about her actual abilities. But in retrospect, she does credit her performance in Brokeback Mountain as a pivotal career move. Lee permitted Meryl Streep to view a key Brokeback scene before the movie was released as she was casting for The Devil Wears Prada. “She approved my casting based on that,” Anne says, acknowledging, “That scene is responsible for my entire career.” Although Anne didn’t win any awards for her performance as Alma, almost a decade later she was awarded an Oscar for her supporting role in Les Miserables.

There is so much variety to the level of commitment actors exhibit to get cast in roles. Some arrive late to auditions and come unprepared; others follow professional protocol; and still others do whatever it takes even if it means lying about their abilities. Have you ever lied to land a role? If so, are you glad you did–or do you regret it? Please share!

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