Despite her parents' objection, Hathaway appears in several plays at local theatre, the Paper Mill Playhouse, in Milburn, N.J. "They so wanted me to have a normal life as a kid," she tells the New York Times in 2001, of her parents – Gerald, an attorney, and Kate, who was in a national touring company of Les Misérables. The young Hathaway goes on to study with the Barrow Group, a prestigious New York theatre company, for six months.
At 16, Hathaway plays overachieving daughter Meghan Green in the Fox drama series Get Real (pictured with costar Eric Christian Olsen). The show is compared to the short-lived drama, My So-Called Life, and one Variety critic likens Hathaway to Claire Danes. Like MSCL, Get Real is cancelled after one season.
Hathaway takes time off from Vassar College to star as an unlikely royal in Disney's The Princess Diaries. Garry Marshall of Pretty Woman fame directs the movie, which costars Julie Andrews (right) and Mandy Moore. It becomes a sleeper hit and earns $108 million. In 2004, Hathaway reprises her role in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
Hathaway begins dating hip restaurateur Scott Sartiano, co-owner of New York City hot spot, Butter. While filming 2002's Nicholas Nickleby in London, Hathaway travels to New York almost every weekend to be with Sartiano, the New York Post reports. But after several months together, they call it quits and Sartiano moves on with Ashley Olsen in 2004.
Hathaway dusts off her tiara to play a girl cursed to be obedient in Ella Enchanted. "We're bringing fairy tales to a new generation," Hathaway tells USA Today. "All of a sudden, there's these real characters girls have to look up to...We've all seen Cinderella be the good, sweet girl who's kind of worshiped for her beauty, and that's kind of boring. But if you can give her a brain and a personality and a point of view, that just makes the story more enjoyable."
Hathaway, 21, begins dating Italian real estate developer Raffaello Follieri, 26. He starts a five-year program to immunize disadvantaged children throughout Central America in 2005, and Hathaway accompanies him on trips to Nicaragua and Honduras. They help vaccinate 11,0000 children against hepatitis A in 2006, and she tells Harper's Bazaar, "My boyfriend is incredible in a lot of ways...One of the most untouted aphrodisiacs in the world is charity work. Seriously, you want a girl to be impressed, vaccinate some kids, build a house."
Hathaway sheds her kid-friendly image and clothes for straight-to-DVD movie Havoc. "I know people are going to focus on the fact that I'm topless in Havoc, but it was necessary for the film," she tells New York's Daily News. "My character is a shallow girl who's so jaded about her own sexuality that she has no problems sharing it."
Hathaway appears in her most adult role to date as Jake Gyllenhaal's wife in Ang Lee's Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain. The film centers around two cowboys secretly in love. "I wanted everybody to take her for granted until the end when all of a sudden you realize that just as you had the men pegged wrong, you had her pegged wrong," she tells WWD of her character Lureen Newsome, a wealthy Texan rodeo star.
Hathaway, 23, plays Meryl Streep's battered fashion assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. "Acting against [Streep] was like taking a cold bath of terror every day," Hathaway tells EW. "I was always ready to wet my pants." Prada director David Frankel adds, "Annie is a girl who is very aware – of herself, of what every shot is, and how it might be used."
PEOPLE names Hathaway one of its Most Beautiful, and she appears on the covers of Harper's Bazaar and Marie Claire before the release of Becoming Jane. The actress plays a young Jane Austen in the biopic. "With the success of [the 2005 film] Pride & Prejudice I know that people are open to it. And it's a very different story," Hathaway explains to WWD. "I just wish Keira Knightley [who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance] hadn't been so damned wonderful in it! I have to bring it even more."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Ron Galella/WireImage; Everett Çollection; Anthony Dixon/LFI; Kobal Collection/Wireimage; Splash News Online; Everett Collection; Everett Collection; Twentieth Century FOX