'Married,' harried and ready for a family fight

When asked if her own family resembles that of her onscreen brood in “Rachel Getting Married,” Oscar hopeful Anne Hathaway busts out laughing.

Apparently not. Yet Hathaway is quick to justify herself, saying, “My family loves each other fiercely, but not always.”

“I think we’re like most families in that way,” she continues. “Whenever we’re making decisions that involve the family, I know how fiercely we love each other, but how we’re always in the process of learning about each other.”

While some might describe the volatile family dynamics in “Rachel Getting Married” as downright combative, Hathaway prefers the phrase “painfully functional.” And, of course, she would know. The thesp spent the past year and a half with helmer Jonathan Demme and the cast of “Married” either filming or promoting the pic. She says the cast and crew developed a bond truly unique to this experience.

With a cast of more than 150, Hathaway says she got to know everyone.

“We weren’t making a film,” Hathaway says. “We were just acting in a room, and a camera happened to be there. I think that’s one of the reasons why we feel like a real family in the movie.”

The chance to work with Demme on a character that she describes as “all over the map” but “completely genuine” was, for her, the clincher. In fact, Demme sent her the script with the choice to play either character, Kym or Rachel. Hathaway says she felt an immediate connection to the former.

“I spent a year asking myself as many questions as I could, coming up with as many answers as I could, delving into to the world of recovery … and it was up to Jonathan to answer all the rest,” she explains. “I was, and still am, at a place in my career where I find it very difficult to believe that my instincts are worth anything.”

The role is another example of Hathaway’s move away from the “Princess Diaries” persona that helped establish her as a film actress. Follow-ups “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Devil Wears Prada” have segued nicely into “Rachel.”

Now that the 25-year-old’s name is being thrown into the mix for the lead actress race, she’s not completely sure how to deal with it.

“It’s amazing,” she says. “To be 25 and to have a performance that people have hopes for. It’s heavy and delightful and not quite real.”

Favorite film this year

“The Class.” “I really liked that film a lot. I liked the trust that happened in it, and the way the story kind of found itself.”

Best advice

“From an acting coach, ‘Be absurd and be brave,’ and from Mom, ‘Be yourself.’”

Inspiration

“Jonathan Demme and Meryl Streep.”

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more