Anne Hathaway became emotional during ‘Armageddon Time’ interview

Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong in “Armageddon Time” (Photo: Anne Joyce/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Jeremy Strong points to the old adage that most personal stories are also the most universal. This definitely sounds right with Armageddon Timea coming-of-age drama by writer and director James Gray about privilege, religion, race, and growing up (and getting into a lot of trouble) in an American Jewish family in the early 1980s in Queens, New York.

“I think the truth is, for all of our differences, there’s something that speaks across those differences and speaks across those divisions,” Succession The star says in an interview with co-star Anne Hathaway. The actors play Irving and Esther Graff, as their son Paul (Banks Repeta) acts against them and his teachers, landing in particularly hot water when he’s caught smoking weed at school with his classmate (Jaylin Webb).

“So James had the desire and the courage to go deeper into the business and make a real moral inventory of his life, his personal failures and the things he struggled with in his family, I found many things related to what he wrote.”

Hathaway witnessed the universality of the film when Armageddon Time It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

“This is a movie about a family in a very specific location at a very specific time, [so I was curious] How can he speak to a French audience with international inclinations? It was a shock to realize that the audience had completely absorbed it. There are themes in this particular movie that are very global. …this is a house where love and violence come together. It is very rare to find a piece of art willing to explore that, and very rare to find a filmmaker who is willing to explore that part of himself.”

The violence that Hathaway is referring to comes during a brutal sequence in which Paul is beaten by his father with a belt in the bathtub. And while the “belt” was fairly common at the time, it didn’t make the scene any easier to pick up on either Strong or Hathaway, who are both parents.

“As you can imagine, it was a really tough day,” Strong says. “Knowledgeable of working with a child actor, who by the way, was very playful and committed to what we were doing, to tell that story. But also the added sensitivity to the fact that we’re somehow re-enacting the trauma that was inflicted on our director, and he’s watching it right there on screen. So it was a very personal experience. Making a personal movie….There is a level of honesty to what James does with this movie which I find very moving the few times I’ve seen the movie.”

Hathaway became visibly emotional and tearful as Strong discussed the sensitive nature of the film and its portrayal of child abuse.

“I don’t know why we are no longer a world where it is safe to be a child,” the actress says. “And I don’t think Esther or Irving weren’t trying to be a bad parent. In fact I think they were doing what was described at the time as parenting. They were trying to prepare their child for the world. But what kind of world do we prepare children for when we have to conquer them? to suit him?

“So I was just thinking about a world where it would be safe enough to be a kid in a gentle way, and I just remember the day we filmed it. I’ve never done anything like that.”

Armageddon Time Playing now.

Watch the trailer:

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