I finished reading the corporate expose ‘The Cult of We’ a couple of weeks ago. It is a fascinating account of how the office rental business WeWork rose from obscurity in New York City to become a ‘unicorn’, ie a start up worth over a billion dollars (at one stage it was valued by investors at $47 billion).
I had, by the time I had finished reading that book, a pretty good impression of the personality and character of Rebecca Paltrow Neumann, the wife of the co-founder Adam Neumann. Cousin of the much more famous Gwyneth, Rebecca comes across as both a typically spoiled Long Island Princess, and a cringe worthily bad would be actress.
And then I discovered that there is a mini-series on Apple TV+ newly released about the whole fascinating WeWork debacle, starring Jared Leto as Adam Neumann and Anne Hathaway as Rebecca.
Anne Hathaway’s riveting performance as Rebecca Paltrow Neumann alone is enough reason to watch this series (aside from the fact that Apple TV+ do not offer too many shows, so what they do offer needs to be very good for the premium I pay for my subscription). It is a master class in acting.
I have never really thought too much about what makes someone a good actor. You just see them and go ‘Wow’ sometimes, and just relax and enjoy it. Hathaway however has just made me think about how much hard work acting is.
In portraying a real person, the work done both by Hathaway as an actress, and the various writers who have sought to capture and keep alive the character who is Rebecca Paltrow Neumann, is amazing. Any real person is not two dimensional or wooden. They have frailties, vanities, strengths, flaws, compassion and resentments. To say nothing of other human characteristics.
Hathaway’s performance brings Rebecca to life for the audience – we see Rebecca the way that we (especially if you have read all about WeWork as I recently have) believe that she really is – we see her being selfish, sympathetic, and sinister, in varying degrees and sometimes simultaneously. It is still not the real person, but this is close as you can get to portraying the real person within the imperfect art form which is drama.
Do yourself a favour and watch this series. If for no other reason than to get to appreciate just what a brilliant and possibly underrated actress Anne Hathaway really is. [The WeWork corporate train wreck itself is itself a fascinating story to follow!]