What's It Like to Play Anne Hathaway's On-Screen Assistant? The Intern Star Christina Scherer Tells All
Ever since Anne Hathaway graced the cover of InStyle's September issue to discuss her new movie, The Intern, we've been counting down the days until the film hits theaters. Friday is finally that day—and with Hathaway starring as the founder of an online fashion company and Robert De Niro playing her 70-year-old intern, the movie has already garnered a ton of buzz. But not everyone in the cast is already a household name. The movie's breakout star is Christina Scherer, who portrays Becky, the assistant of Hathaway's character, in her major film debut. Scherer recently stopped by InStyle's New York City offices, and she revealed what it was like to work with two of the biggest names in Hollywood—or "Annie" and "Bob"—as she casually refers to them, while filming in the Bronx, NY.
"The main actors always set the mood of the environment on set, and they were lovely," said Scherer. "They just really set a mood that was calm and nice." Because the cast was largely male-dominated, Scherer had the chance to bond with Hathaway often. "All of the boys worked together, so Annie was basically the only other girl on set when I was there," she said. "We had a lot of fun, and we were just silly the whole time. We would do accents and sing together." A longtime fan of Hathaway's, Scherer had to adjust to being casual around the star—especially when it came to her nickname. "She wants everyone to call her 'Annie,' but I actually feel silly calling her that because I grew up watching her movies," said Scherer. "I want to call her 'Anne Hathaway,' because I’m like, 'I love you.'"
Working with industry veterans was inspiring for 22-year-old Scherer, and work experience is also a central theme of the movie. In fact, it's the interactions among a cast so varied in age that make the movie relatable in the first place. "It's very multi-generational," said Scherer. "I think anyone can enjoy it." But don't expect The Intern to be anything like Hathaway's last fashion-focused film, The Devil Wears Prada. "It's a completely different story, and it's more about friendship than fashion," said Scherer. "It's not really a story about trying to get ahead in life—it's actually the opposite. It's about trying to find meaning in your life."
That's exactly what Scherer's character is trying to do in the film. "Becky is drowning a bit, and I think that everyone can relate to her at one point in their life," she said. "No matter what field you're in, sometimes you're overqualified for a job and you try to take on more than you can do in order to succeed." Scherer's character is trying to do just that, and she isn't coping well, to say the least. "Becky went to business school and could be helping the company in so many different ways, but she’s also busy getting everyone coffee and doing smaller things that she’s not good at. She has so much other work, and she can't handle all of it."
So when Becky finally reaches her limit, she cries. And that very scene almost cost Scherer the job. "After sending in my audition tape, I got an audition with [writer and director] Nancy [Meyers]," she said. "I went in, and she asked me to work on the crying scene one more time and come back." And so she did. "Annie was there the next time I came in, and I couldn't really cry because I'd already had twelve pages of comedy sides right before that," said Scherer. "I just assumed that I didn't book it, but then I got the call to read with Robert De Niro in New York."
When she got there, the pressure was on. "Nancy told me that she wanted me to have the role, but that she had to see me cry," said Scherer. "She told me, 'Go into a room, use this pressure, and if you don't come in here and cry, you can't have the job.'" Scherer obliged—but things still didn't go smoothly. "I went into a room and I cried for an hour and a half by myself," she said. "But when I came out, I couldn't keep crying anymore—it was terrible." After being told that they were looking to cast someone else for the part, "I ended up sending her a tape of myself doing the crying scene," said Scherer. "And that's when Nancy said, 'Okay.'"
But the challenges didn't stop with the crying. Scherer's favorite scene to film was also the most difficult, she said. "There's a scene where Anne's on a bike, and I'm chasing her," said Scherer. "It was really hard for me because I don’t wear heels in real life, so running in heels for 12 hours while we filmed that was hard." And it took its toll on the star. "At the end of the day, I broke down a bit," she said. "But once I made myself a mocha, everything was okay. So that was when I realized I'm addicted to coffee."
Scherer wasn't the only latte lover on set. "The little espresso pots were a very hot commodity," she said. "If you didn’t save them, you couldn't get them." But there was one treat that was always on hand, thanks to Hathaway's real-life assistant. "Annie likes these little crackers with avocado on them," said Scherer. So if you're hoping to someday become Hathaway's very own personal assistant, she offers up one tip: "Maybe just have those ready."
The Intern hits theaters on Sept. 25. Check out the trailer here: