'WeCrashed': Inside Anne Hathaway's Portrayal of Rebekah and the Importance of That Play (Exclusive)

Anne Hathaway and the showrunners talk to ET about portraying the aspiring actress and wife of Adam Neumann in the Apple TV+ series.

Although Jared Leto went through an intense, months-long method transformation to become WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann in the limited series WeCrashed, Anne Hathaway’s portrayal as his wife, Rebekah, should not be overlooked. The actress, who is starring in her first TV series since the beginning of her acting career, delivers a captivating performance as one-half of the Neumann couple who thought they could “elevate the world’s consciousness” with their real estate tech startup

“She is someone who so identifies as a spiritual person, so I tried to identify and really get to know her that way,” Hathaway tells ET about channeling Rebekah. In addition to working with a researcher, the actress also watched many of Rebekah’s on-camera interviews and read a lot of the same books she said had a big influence on her. Hathaway even got serious about her yoga practice, doing it almost daily for months. “But at the end of the day, I was one member of a team and I trusted the writing and hoped I was doing her justice.” 

In the first three episodes, which are now streaming on Apple TV+, the series sees Adam working hard to launch the first Manhattan location of WeWork while Rebekah, a yoga instructor and struggling actress, tries to figure out her own place in the world. At one point, while updating her IMDb profile, she finds herself on the page for her cousin, Gwyneth Paltrow – an ever-looming presence in her life – and looks defeated. That’s when she hatches a plan to open a theater in the unfinished floor of the WeWork location and star in a production of playwright Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters.

In the episode, “Masha Masha Masha,” Rebekah, who is playing the middle sister, struggles with rehearsals, with Hathaway perfecting the would-be actress’ flat delivery. Then, on the night of the performance, Rebekah suddenly and unexpectedly starts acting with a Russian accent much to everyone’s shock and embarrassment and stifled laughter. The scene ends with Rebekah in the stairwell, crying alone. By the end of the episode, a newly resolved Rebekah shuts down the theater so that WeWork can continue construction on the shared workspace. 

Apple TV+

While Hathaway explains she’s not a fan of saying someone’s a good actor or a bad actor “because I think that’s unhelpful and God knows we all have days where we’re in the pocket and when we’re really not,” she did “want to show someone that was attempting things.” She adds, Rebekah is “someone who thought they could do things that maybe they didn’t quite have the skills to do yet.” 

Going into the series created by showrunners Lee Eisenberg and Drew Crevello, they all agreed it wasn’t about poking fun at her. Yet, the episode plays out in a darkly comedic way that was intentional. “That whole episode is really important to us,” Eisenberg says.  

“We talked a lot about Rebekah as a searcher,” he continues, noting that she double majored in Buddhism and business at Cornell University before heading out to Los Angeles to be an actress. She studied under the Dalai Lama in India and spent several weeks on Wall Street in New York City. And she was also a yoga instructor at the time she met Adam. “It felt like she kept kind of looking for what her place was.”

At the same time, Eisenberg says, “When she invests in something, she goes in full bore… You know, she tried to do it. She took classes and she read all the books and she did everything that you’re meant to do in order to reach a level of success. So, the scene of her doing the playing and making the choice to do the Russian accent was a swing.” 

“The fact that it didn’t work out was devastating,” Eisenberg says, explaining that had she done it casually or not prepared in any way, it would have felt silly, before Crevello adds that play was “not the important scene. The important scene is the one that comes afterward, her crying in the stairwell.”

He says, “If we did our jobs right, that’s the gut punch. And I think that’s the fine line we always walked. There are funny moments in this show where we were doing something that has kind of a dramedy feel, but really it’s her crying in the stairwell that we think really lands. And that was what was very important to us.”  

“Again, with all our conversations with Anne and Jared -- but for that particular scene, it was never about laughing at her,” Eisenberg continues, with Hathaway adding, “I am not interested in judging anybody or humiliating anybody or any of that stuff.” 

Apple TV+

Instead, it was about accessing who Rebekah was at the time, especially as she moves away from acting into the next chapter in her life, which was taking more and more of a vested interest in WeWork. Initially she started out as the company’s spiritual guide before Adam named her co-founder and supported her launch of WeGrow, a private school meant to upend the education system.

By the end, she helps Adam rewrite WeWork’s S-1, which contains the basic business and financial information, as it prepares to go public. Rebekah then delivers the company's newfound message to the board of directors in such a stunning way, it’s hard to believe this was the same person too nervous to perform on stage.  

For the showrunners, there would be no WeWork without Rebekah -- and with the series, they wanted to demonstrate that she was more than a wife in this story. While it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of Adam’s eccentric personality, Rebekah is just as fascinating of a person. “Adam’s hustle and his insights about what people crave combined with Rebekah’s kind of shiny wrapper way of making the world a better place -- like, the combination of those two launched a $47 billion company and partially led to its decline,” Crevello says.  

“We all know how it ended. We all know some of the stories that came out about it. I just thought, what if she really was a sincere person with good intentions and the execution of that fell short of what she was hoping for? That’s heartbreaking and I can relate to that,” Hathaway says. “That’s a really interesting character.”

The first three episodes of WeCrashed are now streaming on Apple TV+ with new episodes debuting each Friday through April 22.

Reporting by Lauren Zima and Stacy Lambe