She is an Oscar winner, a red carpet style star, a former Disney princess and a self-described "middle-class Brooklyn girl at heart." But to really know Anne Hathaway is to understand that at her core, she is a theater geek of the highest order. Reflecting on her current approach to life, she pulls from legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim. "He has this great line in Into the Woods: 'Must it all be either less or more/ Either plain or grand?/ Is it always or ?/ Is it never and ?' " she says, revealing just a hint of her trained soprano. "I kind of approach my life from a place of and."

So in the year since scoring an Oscar for her wrenching turn as Fantine in Les Misérables, Hathaway, 31, has focused on being an actress and a wife and a woman in desperate need of some breathing room. "I just tried to stay out of the limelight as best I could," she says of shifting into a quieter routine with her husband, actor Adam Shulman, 33. Reflecting on her whirlwind career high, Hathaway acknowledges the hardest thing "has just been owning the fact that I did that," she says. "I've always pushed myself from a sense of 'Gotta be better.' And to be told by my peers that I did it ... it's been an interesting journey to learn how to accept that love and respect, you know?"

There have been other big changes as well for the actress, who reprises her role as feisty macaw Jewel in the new animated film Rio 2. "When I first met with [director Carlos Saldanha], I think I was 25," she says. "Now I'm 31, so as you can imagine, a lot of my friends have started having kids. I've already shown the movie to a lot of my favorite kids in the world." Making the sequel to the 2011 hit, "Anne liked it better because this time she was able to play a mother," says Saldanha. "She was so relaxed." Not least because the voice role offered a low-key work environment. "I could just show up in my ugly jeans. Or as I like to call them, my 'doin' pants,' " says Hathaway. "You know you have those pants that look so terrible, but you just get stuff done in them?"

At the top of Hathaway's to-do list is time with Shulman, whom she wed in September 2012. "I'm a homebody," she says. As for her career, does she ponder the possibility of motherhood when weighing her roles? "No, not yet," she says. "I haven't started thinking about that." She's poised to play the lead in a Judy Garland biopic, and this fall she reteams with her Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan for the sci-fi epic Interstellar. But when she's not on-set, the unabashed Broadway baby is often belting it out. "I sing everywhere," she says. "I have a very patient husband. He says he doesn't mind. But we've only been married a year and a half!"

  • Contributors:
  • With Linda Marx/Miami.