Ricky Lo speaks about his Anne Hathaway interview

MANILA, Philippines - While many Filipinos are still reeling from what has been called the “awkward” or “painful” video interview of entertainment writer Ricky Lo with “Les Miserables” star Anne Hathaway, Ricky Lo has published his reaction to all the brouhaha.

In his article on Philstar.com titled “Anne of a thousand hits,” Lo was quite surprised at the ruckus his interview had created both online and offline. He said that, more than anything, he found the entire thing “amusing,” more so because he is so “used to interviewing Hollywood stars for more than two decades now.”

The entertainment columnist also said he had reviewed the tape of the video interview before uploading and found nothing wrong with it.

This is not his first interview with Hathaway, Ricky said in his article.

Back in 2004, he had interviewed a “sweet” and “adorable” Anne who had just starred as Princess Mia in “The Princess Diaries.” He could not help comparing the younger Anne with her “more regal” co-star, Julie Andrews, saying the veteran actress addressed media reporters by their first names and with a friendly smile.

'Standard' questions

Lo explained that the questions he asked Hathaway were the standard questions he would ask other star interviewees. He expected the actress’ answers to be short — because the questions were specially formulated for quick interviews — but he didn’t expect them to be so curt.

After all, he asked the same questions to her co-stars Hugh Jackman and Amanda Seyfried who — “in fairness to them” — didn’t find the questions “personal.” He described his conversations with the two to have been “free-flowing,” culminating in both actors agreeing to invite Filipino fans to watch the movie.

Later on in his article, Lo said that if given the chance, he would love to interview Hathaway again but with a slight revision of his questions.

He said he will remember to ask only questions like, “What’s your favorite color?” or, “What’s your favorite pet?” and refrain from asking “personal” questions like, “What did you have for breakfast today?”

Not in the mood

“I felt that she wasn’t in the mood during the interview,” Lo recollected in his article.

Other Asian journalists at the press junket had the same observation. According to Lo, one even asked, “She was a bit rude, wasn’t she?” and another declared, “I used to love her, but not anymore.”

Lo claimed that in an effort “to appease everybody,” he told his fellow journalists, “I think she’s suffering from jetlag because she flew in from the States!”

But despite all this, was he offended by the actress’ behavior?

He said, no.

Did he think he was “intrusive” during the interview with the questions he asked?

He said, no.

Did he find Hathaway rude?

He said, a bit.

He compared her with all the other Hollywood stars (this time he gave a number — more than 200!) he has interviewed who were “absolutely more delightful, far nicer, and totally engaging.”

Lea Salonga on the interview

Journalist Alex Vergara, on his blog “In the wee hours of the morning” shared his interview with Tony Award-winning Lea Salonga on the Lo-Hathaway interview.

Lea has played both Fantine (Anne Hathaway’s role in the movie) and Eponine in Broadway productions of “Les Miserables” and is greatly admired by Anne Hathaway who was all praises for her during the interview with Lo.

While saying she cannot speak for Hathaway, Lea said her years as a performer have taught her “to remain professional and pleasant, as I need that reporter to write about and talk about my show, or TV stint, or movie, or whatever.”

To Hathaway’s terse response to Lo’s question about her weight loss for the movie, Lea said, “Everyone sees things from his or her own unique perspective. But I can think of a bazillion ways to answer the question, ‘How did you lose 25 pounds in 5 weeks,’ if only for the benefit of entertaining myself.”

But Lea could relate to what might have been Hathaway’s state of mind at the time.

She said, “You get a lot of the same questions, and by the end of the day, the brain is so… for lack of a better word, ‘bangag.’”

In the end, Lea concluded that Lo’s questions to Anne “although delivered awkwardly, were perfectly legitimate questions.”

Comparing Lo's interview with the more successful one of Manny the Movie guy, Lea said that although Manny asked practically the same questions, he put in comments that lightened the mood. Instead of simply asking Hathaway how she had lost weight, he added that he needed to know because he wanted “to lose weight by Christmas.”

This, said Lea, proved that, “A lot of the time, it isn’t the questions, but how they’re delivered.”

Culture clash?

Another interesting opinion on the matter is that of writer and columnist Jessica Zafra.

In her article on Interaksyon.com, she concluded that the “disastrous” turn of the interview can be explained by the clashing of the Western way and Filipino way of conducting interviews.

Lo’s name-dropping (his “good friend” Lea was a big topic in the interview), the rags-to-riches question about whether Hathaway has ever been poor, and the invitation to invite Filipinos to watch the movie are all classic elements of a showbiz interview session.

So who is the bad guy in this story? Maybe both, maybe no one. Maybe, like most awkward situations, it all boiled down to proper timing. - Rappler.com