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One celebrity Web site recently dubbed Anne Hathaway "the anti-Lindsay Lohan."

This is presumably because Hathaway, who earned attention in the Disney teen movie The Princess Diaries and respect for her performances in Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada, consistently exhibits qualities Lohan does not: She's intelligent and articulate, elegant and tasteful, and mature beyond her 26 years.

It is close to impossible to imagine Lohan in Hathaway's latest role, playing the young Jane Austen in the period romance Becoming Jane, which opened Friday. A work of speculative fiction, Becoming Jane suggests that at least two of Austen's six beloved novels, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, were inspired in part by her acquaintance with Tom Lefroy, an apprentice lawyer from Ireland.

How rooted in fact is Becoming Jane?

Well, we do know from one of the few of Jane's letters that her sister Cassandra didn't burn when she died that she had at least a flirtation with a man named Tom Lefroy, whom she met over one Christmas holiday while Cassandra was away. The biographers tend to disagree about the real extent of the relationship. The movie is fiction, for certain. . . . But it's plausible fiction.

Can we assume that you were one of the many Austen fans?

You certainly can. I had read all the books when I was younger, but it was a perk of the job to go through them all again. They're so complex, and beautifully drawn, with such real, rich characters. But what's amazing is how deep people get into the books, and while I was researching (the film), I got to understand why. After you go through the biographies, there are all these fictional depictions where Jane is a detective, that sort of thing. My favorite, I think, was this book of short erotic fiction, sort of like the parts left out of the novels: It's called Pride & Promiscuity.

In all the movie and TV adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, who's your Mr. Darcy?

No offense to Laurence Olivier (who played the role in the 1940 film) or to Matthew Macfadyen, who I thought was really sexy in the latest one (released in 2005), but Colin Firth (star of the 1995 British miniseries) owns Mr. Darcy. He's the man for me.