Anne Hathaway believes she did not know how to be happy before she had a child.
She said it was giving birth to her son that enabled her to make choices that would bring her the most joy.
The Oscar winner, who stars in the upcoming film The Hustle, said in the past she would have been too scared to play another con artist following last year’s Ocean’s 8.
She told the Press Association: “I signed on to The Hustle before Ocean’s 8 and I was really excited about playing this.
“And then Ocean’s 8 came along and I thought ‘well I’m not turning that job down’ and I didn’t think I should step off The Hustle because it’s going to be really, really fun so I just thought ‘two con women – how many thieves did Cary Grant play? Really, I can do this, this is going to be fine’.”
The actress, who has a son Jonathan, three, with husband Adam Shulman, added: “A few years ago I think I would have been too scared, like: ‘Oh am I repeating myself, will I be put into a box if I do this thing?’
“And there is just something about having a child that makes you go ‘I don’t care, I’m going to be happy. And I’m going to make choices that make me happy and hopefully make movies that are fun’.”
Asked whether she thought she had been making choices that felt like the right thing to do, rather than the things that would make her happy, she said: “I don’t think I necessarily knew how to be happy.
“I think a degree of being happy is letting go and I wasn’t really good at that and I just have a different perspective on that now.
“I just think I’m quicker to laugh, easier to flow with things.”
She added: “You work so hard to establish some kind of credibility as an actor that it’s nice to feel that maybe I’ve established that enough that I can mess with it a bit.
“I don’t have to be so serious and I don’t have to prove everything every single time and maybe I could just do a movie for the fun of it, just for the joy of hopefully making people laugh.”
Discussing the pseudo-English accent she adopts in the film, Hathaway said initially director Chris Addison wanted her to play a real Briton but she was reluctant because of previous bad experiences.
She added: “I said ‘I don’t think that is the right choice, I don’t think I can pull it off necessarily’ and also England is very specific about who does a British accent and how they do it and I’ve never quite done it for you guys.
“I was like ‘how am I going to do this?’ and I thought: ‘OK, what if the character isn’t British but she sounds British so she’s from somewhere else and she dresses the way she wants to dress and she lives on the side of a cliff and she just decides she’s going to have the poshest, fakest British accent of all time but it’s going to be a good fake accent?’
“Who would she sound like? So I decided she would sound like Mary Poppins, Stewie (from Family Guy) and Patsy (Stone, from Absolutely Fabulous).”
The Hustle is released in UK cinemas on May 10.