Anne Hathaway Talks Paying Homage to Anjelica Huston in 'The Witches' (Exclusive)

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A foolish witch without a brain must sizzle into fire and flame. Which is to say, it was vital that Anne Hathaway be thoughtful in her portrayal of the Grand High Witch in the new adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book, The Witches. The role was so iconically originated 30 years earlier by Anjelica Huston, and Hathaway knew her iteration couldn't just be homage.

"I wanted to give a performance that felt as memorable to the children of today as her performance felt to me," she tells ET's Nischelle Turner. "It felt like it would've been, in a way, disrespectful to crib her performance. Hers is hers and it was for Nick Roeg's brilliant movie, and mine was mine and it was for Robert Zemeckis."

Both Hathaway and Huston deliver equally big performances -- capital "A" acting with amusingly unplaceable accents -- but their witchiness differs both in appearance and execution. Hathaway's look is more demonic, with CGI fangs and clawed talons, versus Huston's monstrous transformation through hours upon hours spent in the makeup trailer.

(Not that Hathaway went without prosthetics of her own, which she documented in a time-lapse Instagram video. The process took about 45 minutes. "And it would've been shorter except I got stuck," she recalls. "I had all my eyelashes at the end, which was the one thing I had been worried about.")

As for how each actress chose to play their respective witch, "I felt very comfortable that they were going to be two very, very different performances," Hathaway says.

"Any moments that I felt, like, a little nervous about, 'Are people going to let there be two Grand High Witches in film history?'" she adds, "I just went, you know what? In the last 30 years, there have been four Jokers. There have been six Batmen. There have been I don't know how many James Bonds. Like, people can do this. We're just not used to doing it with actresses."

While Hathaway received Huston's blessing to make the role her own, she hasn't allowed herself to think of Huston actually watching this version of The Witches. "That was the one thing I didn't let myself think about," she laughs. "I was like, 'Well, maybe not, maybe not, maybe not, maybe not.' But all I want is her to be in John Wick 4. That's what I'm pulling for, that's what I can't wait to see."

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