Preparing to play Fantine in Les Misérables could be perceived as miserable for Anne Hathaway.
No stranger to altering her lifestyle to fit a role – she went vegan and got into peak shape for The Dark Knight Rises – Hathaway, who turned 30 on Monday, went to extremes to stay true to her latest character.
Going on a strict cleanse before shooting Les Mis, the Academy Award-nominated actress lost 4.5 kg. Then, living off of two thin squares of dried oatmeal paste per day, she lost another 7 kg. in two weeks.
"I had to be obsessive about it," she says in the December issue of Vogue. "The idea was to look near death. Looking back on the whole experience – and I don't judge it in any way – it was definitely a little nuts. It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that's who Fatine is anyway."
"I was in such a state of deprivation--physical and emotional. When I got home, I couldn't react to the chaos of the world without being overwhelmed," says Hathaway. "It took me weeks till I felt like myself again."
One major source of support? Adam Shulman, her then-fiance, whom she wed in late September. "This time, Adam was there. He gets what I do and who I am and supports me in it, and that's pretty awesome."
But thing she's keeping from her Les Mis makeover is that short pixie cut.
"I love the short-haired lifestyle," says the brunette. "It's awesome that I was able to go for a hike right before I came here to meet you, quickly wash my hair, and now it's dry."
The star is committed to getting her hair cut every three weeks to maintain the gamine look. "I'm turning 30, and--I hope this isn't obnoxious to say--I feel prettier, and much more myself. I guess I just feel much more satisfied with less now."
Of her big wedding bash in Big Sur, Calif.? "Oh, my God, I had a blast. Our friends stayed and partied and danced till really late," she raves -- although she admits that she sometimes disagreed with her close pal Valentino, who custom-designed her gown.
"I begged him during the first fitting to make the train detachable. He looked at me and said, 'But it is a dress, not a costume.' The memory of creating it with him is something that I will treasure forever. He somehow read my mind and designed the dress that I'd always wanted.
Hathaway first saw the famed musical at age seven when her mum performed as an understudy.
"I'll never forget it," she says. "I just sat there sobbing. And I don't think it was just because I was watching my mother die, though that was definitely part of it. I was just so moved and felt so connected to her and the music and the whole production. I've been in love with the show ever since."