Of the scores of young actresses director Garry Marshall considered for the lead in The Princess Diaries
, only one stood out. Or more accurately, only one fell off her chair. "I was getting up and my foot slipped," recalls Anne Hathaway
, 18. "That's what we wanted," says Marshall, who hired her on the spot as the movie's awkward teen turned royal beauty. "Pretty and vulnerable and ungainly."
She may be a klutz, but this Hollywood Cinderella definitely has brains beneath her tiara. "My parents always instilled in me it's more important to be smart than pretty," says the Millburn, N.J.-reared Hathaway, who's about to start her second semester at Vassar College after taking time off to make the movie. The middle child of Jerry Hathaway, 47, a lawyer, and his wife, Kate McCauley, 47, a former stage actress, Hathaway longed to audition for plays since grade school, but "my parents said, 'You're going to have a childhood.' "
They gave in when she was 16, and Hathaway nabbed a part in the 1999 FOX TV series Get Real
. With no future gigs lined up yet, the English major looks forward to singing in her school a cappella group and "just sitting around talking." On campus "I'm not Annie the movie star," she says happily. "I'm just Annie."