Anne Hathaway’s Terrifying The Witches Transformation Used A Lot Less CGI Than You’d Think

Anne Hathaway as a Witch

Have you ever heard actors talk about how they “lose” themselves in certain roles? It’s usually mumbo-jumbo actor speech, but occasionally there are dashes of truth in the statement. Take Anne Hathaway, for example. The Oscar winner has proven her versatility in musicals (Les Miserables), hard-hitting dramas (Brokeback Mountain), superhero thrillers (The Dark Knight Rises) and frothy comedies (The Princess Diaries). But we have never seen her like we now see her on screen in HBO Max’s The Witches.

Playing the Grand High Witch, Anne Hathaway fully and physically transforms into a ghoulish creature who makes lives very difficult for children who have figured out her secret identity. It’s a vainglorious role, and one that Hathaway sinks all of her real teeth into. As for the fake choppers that come with the look of the Grand High Witch, Hathaway tells CinemaBlend above that there’s a lot less CGI than one might think when they see what she looks like on screen:

That is some Oscar-worthy make-up at play on Anne Hathaway to transform her, fully, into the Grand High Witch for The Witches. The mouth, alone, should earn someone a gold statue. But it’s the five-hour sessions that Hathaway had to endure in order to pull this look off that makes it all worth our time when choosing what to stream on a screening service like HBO Max.

You might already be familiar with The Witches. Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, The Witches was made into a feature film in 1990 with Anjelica Huston playing the central role. So the new movie had to follow in the footsteps of a beloved book, and a movie that many potential viewers grew up on.

Anne Hathaway in full character

And yet, because of the involvement of director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future), and a fantastic cast that involves Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci, The Witches works a lot more often than it doesn’t. The cast genuinely seems to be enjoying themselves with the family-friendly but still harrowing horror material. And Zemeckis holds on to enough practical effects to keep the story from flying too far into the ether. When discussing her preparation, Hathaway tells us:

So much glue and latex! Like, so much. Makeup on this one, when I was in the full thing, could take as long as five hours. It was having fingers glued on and feet glued on. The whole head piece kind of started (at my forehead) and went all the way down my neck and into my back. Yeah, it was pretty fun.

If you define “fun” that way! Now you can see for yourself if the practical effects were worth it, as The Witches currently is available to stream on HBO Max.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.