There’s a bunch of enjoyable elements in Robert Zemeckis’ rendition of Roald Dahl‘s The Witches, but if I had to recommend the movie for one reason and one reason alone, it’d be to see Anne Hathaway go for it as the Grand High Witch. Following in the footsteps of Anjelica Huston who made the role iconic in the 1990 film, Hathaway steps in as the leader of a group of witches who gather at a hotel to see hear about her new scheme. She plans to use a “Mouse Maker” potion to turn children into mice.

With the movie now available to stream on HBO Max, I got the chance to chat with Hathaway about her experience putting her interpretation of the Grand High Witch together. In addition to discussing the look of the character and the face mold experience, Hathaway also reveal how they settled on that particular accent. She began:


Image via Warner Bros / HBO Max

“It took a minute! You know, we explored so many different sounds, because I really wanted to respect what Roald Dahl had written and all of those syllables. But just trying to figure out where the vowels live …”

Hathaway paused to warn that the process might come across as “actor-y” and not all that exciting to hear about, but given the sky high curiosity about this element of the movie, I do beg to differ! And, it turns out, the source of the final Grand High Witch accent is mighty fascinating:

“My direct coach, Joan Washington and I, we tried Norwegian and we tried Swedish and all of them sounded a little light, a little contemporary and then it was Joan’s idea to say, ‘Well, all Scandinavian accents are based on Norse, so maybe we can see if we can find an example of Old Norse.’ And then we found this poetry professor reciting Norse poetry on the internet and Joan kind of created a dialect from that and now it’s in a movie!”


Image via Warner Bros / HBO Max

If you’d like to hear more from Hathaway about her experience working on The Witches and the advice she’d give to Zoe Kravitz or anyone who winds up playing Catwoman down the line, check out the full chat at the top of this article! 

Anne Hathaway:

  • Did the look of the Grand High Witch change much from day one to final film?
  • What was it like going through the face mold process? Has Hathaway ever heard the Jeff Daniels story?
  • Hathaway reveals how they figured out the right accent for the character.
  • Hathaway shares some advice for Zoe Kravitz, or anyone who winds up playing Catwoman.


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