I just put a bullet in Friday evening’s episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, with both Anne Hathaway and Romany Malco guesting, and it has a peculiar flavor of improbable victory and defeat when viewed through the lens of the weekend box office shakedown of Get Smart and The Love Guru, their respective projects.
Hathaway was in full, flirty, hard-sell mode, peddling stories of her alt-porn name (Sandy Chestnut) and anecdotes about doing absinthe shots with Steve Carell during an in-production jaunt to Russia. She also laughed giddily — the forward-leaning, eager-to-placate kind of laugh — at all of O’Brien’s jokes, and reminisced about her a cappella experience at Vassar, something she shared with Conan’s wife. Plenty of charm overall, but it still felt nervous and clutchy — there was a desperateness to please, with Hathaway talking about how people were really responding so positively to the movie, which is what one says when they’re pitching a film about Sudanese orphans or a crack-smoking high school teacher, not a big summer action-comedy.
Malco, meanwhile, was all smooth angles and charisma, talking about skating, which he had to pick up for the movie (“If you suffer from NoAssAtAll, put on some skates…”) and sharing how it helped bring him together with fiancée Taryn Dakha, stand-in and stunt and body double for Jessica Alba. And yet look at how the theatrical gate shook down. As much as Carell’s star is waxing, this beat-down really is a referendum on Mike Myers as much as anything else.