Watching Anne Hathaway delve deeply into a character, it is clear that she is willing to give her portrayal her entire heart and soul, and this is certainly the case with Rebekah Neumann, the wife of WeWork Founder Adam Neumann.
Hathaway (Devil Wears Prada and Love and Other Drugs) is starring with Jared Leto (Dallas Buyer’s Club and Suicide Squad) in WeCrashed, the love story at the center of a coworking company that grew into a global brand worth 47 billion dollars in under a decade.
Unfortunately, in less than a year — September 2019 — its value plummeted, and Adam Neumann, an Israeli businessman, resigned as CEO of WeWork and gave up majority voting control of his innovative company, which is still in business.
The highly dramatic and witty eight-episode Apple TV + series is from co-writers, executive producers, and showrunners Lee Eisenberg and Drew Crevello; the series tagline is: “a love story worth $47 billion.”
The captivating series is based on extensive research, including WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork, a detailed podcast of the rise and fall of the WeWork brand. The podcast focused on the rags-to-riches tale of Adam Neumann, who thought his company was going to change the world.
Hathaway says that she became a vegan and took extensive yoga classes throughout the six-month shoot in order to capture the essence of her character Rebekah from the inside out.
More than seeing Rebekah as just Adam’s wife, Crevello says that her role in the company was just as important as that of her husband. The writers considered Rebekah to be “the soul of the company and the spiritual guide,” and as such, the series explores the different aspects of her life; actress, yoga instructor, studying with the Dalai Lama, and mother to five children.
“We found Rebekah to be such a fascinating character,” he explains. The series explores her tragic past and how it shaped her into a woman who played such a key role in one of the most successful companies of all time. “I became absolutely intrigued by this woman, her worldview, and her past,” Crevello added.
He said it would have been “so easy to caricature Rebekah Neumann, so we wanted a really great dramatic actor that would really make this a sort of fully dimensional human being. And also, someone with excellent comedic timing that could find the humor in some of these quirks; Anne Hathaway was in a class of one.”
It is easy to become quickly engrossed in this unique story and Hathaway has a theory about this highly unique power couple. “In terms of why we care about this story, I think part of it is because this is a story that we all lived through in real-time,” Hathaway exclusively tells Monsters and Critics. “And maybe we believed alongside them.”
Read on for the Q and A with Anne Hathaway about becoming Rebekah Neumann, playing an actual living person, and why we identify with this story.
Monsters and Critics: What aspects of Rebekah Neumann did you feel that you related to the most? How do you get into someone’s head that you are portraying?
Anne Hathaway: I actually really tried to leave myself out of it as much as I could. What I did was immerse myself in the things that she loved, and the things that she had been very open about that had guided her in her development as a person and in her mind and a spirit, and I reacted to those things.
But in terms of similarities that we possess, I think just being really conscious of the fact that I was playing a real human being who’s going to have real feelings about someone playing her. And at the end of the day, I just wanted it to be fair.
M&C: What attracted you to this project?
Anne Hathaway: The quality of the writing and the opportunity to work alongside Jared Leto. I loved what Lee and Drew did because it would have been really easy to come in and judge these characters, but it’s much harder to interpret them generously. We decided to look at them as human beings, and there seemed a real opportunity, without being preachy or didactic, to capture the moment that we’re all living through right now.
M&C: Could Adam Neumann have accomplished even a bit of this without Rebekah’s support, love, encouragement, and kindness?
Anne Hathaway: No, 100 percent no. And I think Adam Neumann would say the same thing.
M&C: What do you feel makes WeCrashed unique?
Anne Hathaway: It’s about the exploration of today’s workplace environments where there is a stampede of unicorn companies a dream among young people to be entrepreneurs and billionaires. One of the things that set this show apart is that it looks at what the cost of that is, not just for the people trying to achieve that, but for all the people that are working underneath them, all the people they rely on, all the people that are encouraging them and all the people who are allowing these things to happen. It felt like an incredible opportunity to get to explore that.
M&C: The majority of us are not billionaires and we never started a company. But we have been in love and have a family. So why do you think we relate so much to this story?
Anne Hathaway: I cared because they’re human beings. Because they’re human beings, and they were trying to do something. I’m really compassionate when people try to do things they may not quite be ready to do. There’s an aspect of them; there’s an audacity to their ambition.
But if they’d been able to pull it off, it would be a very different story. They came very close to pulling off something really remarkable. And the things that they wanted, as far as I can tell, were not bad things.
Maybe we hoped alongside them that this would happen. Maybe the idea of the spirit of WeWork appealed to us, and maybe it’s just going to be a little bit more complicated than we all think to achieve it.
M&C: Talk about the dark comedy in this series?
Anne Hathaway: Rarely do we ever think that we’re in a comedic moment in our lives. We take our lives very seriously, and so I find that oftentimes the more serious I play it, the straighter I play it, the funnier the comedy is. So much of this show takes place smack dab in the middle of an absurd place, and the stakes keep getting raised.
M&C: Do you see an uplifting message that could inspire us to take big risks?
Anne Hathaway: Uplifting? You know what, I don’t really ever get into the messaging of the things that I’m a part of. I find that it has an undesirable impact on my performance because then I’m playing to a message as opposed to playing to the truth. For me, that aspect of it has more to do with the work of Lee and Drew.
I’m just kind of there to play my character. I’m curious to see what other people have to say about it because this was a huge story that everyone followed. So, I’m really curious to see what the collective response to the series is.
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WeCrashed debuts on Apple TV+ on March 18, with the first three episodes, followed by one new episode weekly, every Friday.