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Anne Hathaway's latest movie couldn't be more timely.
The Oscar winner, 38, stars alongside 12 Years a Slave Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor in Locked Down, a new film landing on HBO Max on January 14. The pair play Linda and Paxton, a couple on the brink of separation who are forced to continue to live together due to a COVID-19 mandatory lockdown. With a lot of wine and their shared love of poetry, Linda and Paxton do their best to cope with the difficult situation.
"Linda has been carrying around so much tension for so long," Hathaway tells PEOPLE of her character in Locked Down. "This film is partially about how the chaos of lockdown allows her to release that tension, let go of whatever BS was getting her through the day and how she gets all the way honest about what authenticity and freedom mean to her. She is messy and a little nuts and I liked that."
Hathaway, who shot the film with director Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Identity) during the pandemic, says the experience of making Locked Down was "very normal" in some ways and "completely wild" in others.
"The sheer act of making it, of doing something so collaborative and audacious made us all very focused and open — and strangely free," she says. "Like the odds were so against us anyway that it made me want to lean into the exhilaration and take risks with my performance. It was scary taking my mask off every day, and so I really appreciated how committed the crew was to keeping their masks on — even when we were shooting in hot rooms and they were carrying heavy camera and lighting equipment they were always, always masked. Their professionalism helped keep me safe, and I was and am incredibly grateful to them."
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"The sheer act of making it, of doing something so collaborative and audacious made us all very focused and open — and strangely free," Anne Hathaway tells PEOPLE
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Hathaway recently opened up to Stellar magazine about the biggest challenge for her as a mother while cooped up at home with her family.
"During the lockdown? Can I curse? The f—ing laundry!" joked Hathaway, who shares sons Jonathan, 4, and Jack, 1, with husband Adam Shulman.
The actress explained that while there are struggles, she has found silver linings to the situation. "But, you know, I'm always hesitant to frame things in the realm of challenges because I think it sets a tone. As a mom, I’ve found tons of opportunities," she said.
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"There’s obviously a learning curve – you just have to be kind to yourself with that because you do feel like you’re doing everything wrong, especially in the early days," she continued. "But it’s more than just a challenge."
Asked what is the most important lesson she's learned during the pandemic, Hathaway had a simple yet insightful response.
"The way we live and love is what we’ll be remembered by," she said.
Locked Down is available to stream on HBO Max starting January 14.