As crazy as it may seem to imagine Anne Hathaway doing anything other than acting, she once considered a very different life path. Born in New York City, Hathaway grew up in a very conservative Roman Catholic family. She said they always had strong values, and she described how her family was firm believers who practiced their religion daily.
Hathaway grew up so involved with her faith and spirituality that, at 11 years old, she told her parents she wanted to become a nun! As the actress recounts, she felt “called upon by God” to become one of his people. Clearly, she grew out of it.
A New Yorker Who Grew Up in Jersey
Even though she was born in 1982 in New York City’s Brooklyn Borough, Hathaway and her family relocated to Millburn, New Jersey, when she was six years old. Jersey is where she and her two brothers, Michael and Thomas, grew up, and the actress has often said she’s happy she didn’t spend her formative years in the big city.
A sprawling township in the state of New Jersey, Millburn is surrounded by forests and parks and is pretty much the perfect place to raise a family. It also gave Anne the opportunity to go to a great elementary school and enjoy a quieter, family-oriented atmosphere as she was growing up. She would have plenty of time to join the big city ranks.
A Lifechanging Decision
It is almost a rite of passage for children and teenagers to change their minds constantly, but Hathaway had a life-altering change of heart during her formative years. Raised as a devout Roman Catholic and even considering becoming a nun when she was a child, Hathaway’s relationship with her faith took a drastic turn at age 15.
Right around this age, Anne’s older brother Michael came out and told his family he was gay. His family was immediately supportive and thankful he trusted them. But when Anne realized the Catholic church was never going to accept her brother, she renounced her religion. “Why should I support an organization that has a limited view of my beloved brother?” said Anne in an interview. And that was the end of it.
Her Family Became Episcopalian
After her brother came out, Anne wasn’t the only one in the Hathaway family to give up Roman Catholicism. Her entire family felt they could no longer be part of a religion that completely rejected their son, so they converted to the Episcopalian faith.
But for Anne, being an Episcopalian didn’t really stick either, so she accepted that, for the time being, she was going to consider herself a non-denominational Christian. When asked about her faith and beliefs, Anne confidently said she was simply nothing. She explained that she was in formation, a work in progress. Fair enough!
She Struggled With Mental Health
In 2007, a 25-year-old Anne did a tell-all interview where, for the first time, she spoke openly about her struggle with depression. The actress explained how fragile her mental health was during her teenage years, struggling with severe anxiety and depression for several years. Luckily, she was able to overcome the hard times without resorting to medication, but she credits her family and her love of acting for helping her get out of it.
Acting helped Anne focus on something she loved, and she held on tightly to her passion until she was able to overcome her depression. Always involved in school plays, she got her first onscreen role at age 17, and the rest, as they say, is history.