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Anne Hathaway appears in a scene from the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises. / Hedy Lamarr appears in a scene from the 1933 film Ecstasy. - Provided courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures / Elektafilm

Anne Hathaway's Catwoman inspired by Hedy Lamarr

12/30/2011 by Corinne Heller

Many actresses have played Catwoman over the years, but to prepare for her own role as the sexy masked "Batman" character in "The Dark Knight Rises," Anne Hathaway looked to the source.

Hathaway, 29, told the Los Angeles Times that she studied late Hollywood sex icon Hedy Lamarr, who the "Batman" comic book franchise creator Bob Kane used as one of his inspirations for Catwoman, along with actress Jean Harlow and his own girlfriend.

"I know this sounds odd, but her breathing is extraordinary," Hathaway was quoted as saying about Lamarr. "She takes these long, deep, languid breaths and exhales slowly," Hathaway said. "There's a shot of her in 'Ecstasy' exhaling a cigarette and I took probably five breaths during her one exhale. So I started working on my breathing a lot."

Lamarr, who was part of Hollywood's "Golden Age," died in 2000 at age 85. She gained international fame due to her role in the 1933 Czech-produced, German-language film "Ecstasy," which showed her nude and also depicted her acting out what is considered to be the first on-screen orgasm. The movie was banned in most parts of the United States.

"The Dark Knight Rises" is Christopher Nolan's third in the hit "Batman" trilogy and his first to feature Catwoman and her alter ego Selina Kyle, who is both an adversary and love interest of the superhero, played by Christian Bale.

A trailer for the movie that was released earlier this month shows Hathaway dancing with Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, wearing a mask and talking to him in a raspy voice.

"There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne," she says. "You and your friends better batten down the hatches. Because when it hits, you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could ever live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."

That "storm" appears to include the villain Bane, a Hannibal Lecter look-a-like played by Tom Hardy. "The Dark Knight Rises" hits theaters on July 20, 2012 and also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard, who are newcomers to the franchise.

Michelle Pfeiffer played Catwoman in the 1992 film "Batman Returns." Julie Newmar portrayed the character in a 1960s "Batman" series, as did Eartha Kitt, who died in 2008. Lee Meriwether took on the room in a 1966 television film. Halle Berry portrayed Catwoman in a 2004 film by the same name that flopped at the box office.

Hathaway's Catwoman costume contains "high-tech goggles that, when not in use, flip up and resemble feline ears," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hathaway rose to fame playing nerd-turned-princess in the movie "The Princess Diaries" in 2001. She later won praise for her role as a clumsy but ambitious personal assistant of a fashion magazine editor, played by Meryl Streep, in the 2006 film "The Devil Wears Prada."

Hathaway went on to star in films such as Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," which saw her play the White Queen, and the romantic comedy "Love and Other Drugs," in which she appeared topless opposite on-screen love interest Jake Gyllenhaal.

In 2009, she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the movie "Rachel Getting Married." A year later, she and James Franco co-hosted the Academy Awards ceremony.

Hathaway is now preparing to play Fantine, a poor French woman who turns to prostitution to provide for her daughter, in the film adaptation of the musical "Les Miserables," which also stars Hugh Jackman.

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