3 AUGUST 2007

According to Anne Hathaway, it wasn't her agent or her own obvious talent as an actress that won her the plum part of author Jane Austen in the movie Becoming Jane, but her beloved chocolate Labrador Esmerelda. The 24-year-old actress has revealed that the eve before her second audition, her dog "decided to eat the hotel slipper - so she was up the whole night vomiting". "I slept maybe an hour," adds Anne.

"When I arrived at the interview I was tired and wasn't in a very good mood. I guess Julian (Director Julian Jarrold) realised I wasn't the bright, happy, smiley, untroubled girl from The Princess Diaries. He offered me the role after that… I have to thank the maker of the hotel slipper that poisoned my dog."

It was a happy ending all round, as Esmerelda made a full recovery and Anne disassociated herself from the "tiara flicks" and goody-two-shoes image which were threatening to typecast her. The audition took place two years ago, at a time when she was best known for her Disney role and before she appeared in acclaimed cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain and phenomenally successful comedy The Devil Wears Prada.

The beautiful brunette moved to England a month before filming on Becoming Jane began undergo intensive coaching on her English accent. "Professionally, I have never given more to a role than this one," she says.

Photo: ©
The actress, pictured playing Pride And Prejudice novelist Jane Austen, credits a sleepless night looking after her poorly pet with helping her land the prestigious roleClick on photo to enlarge