On a summer afternoon in 2010, Anne Hathaway walked into New York’s Union Square noodle bar Republic with her boyfriend, Adam Shulman, for lunch. The couple looked low-key and inconspicuous. They carried shopping bags and sat side by side at a corner table. She ordered the Asian chopped salad. “Is there romaine?” she asked the waiter. When the kitchen forgot to include a side of peanuts, Shulman helped wave down the waiter for his girlfriend.
Then the check arrived. “It was $25,” the waiter remembers. They put down two credit cards, just like any other broke New York couple. “I guess I just expected, she’s a movie star, so she could pick up a check or her boyfriend would,” the waiter recalls.
Shulman, who announced his engagement to Hathaway last week, is nothing like her previous fiancé. He is the anti–Raffaello Follieri, the lavish guy who whisked Hathaway to dinner via jet in the Dominican Republic home of Oscar de la Renta, who showered her with jewelry, who chaperoned her around the world on private planes and yachts. But that all ended with a catastrophic boom when Follieri was arrested in June 2008 and charged with wire fraud and money laundering in a scheme involving $50 million, the Vatican, and the fleecing of investors like supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle. The FBI seized Hathaway’s diaries from Follieri’s $37,000-a-month apartment in Trump Tower, and there was talk in gossip columns that Hathaway had lured Follieri to New York for his arrest. A few months later, Follieri pleaded guilty to 14 counts of conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering, and he is still in federal prison, serving the end of a four-year prison sentence.
It’s bad enough for a major Hollywood star to have a big public breakup, but Hathaway’s was on steroids, and it came just before her Oscar nomination for Rachel Getting Married. In her first post-Follieri interview, with W magazine, she described how she wept while visiting Jonathan Demme’s home in Nyack, N.Y. “They all had so much going on. And I just started to cry because I thought, I don’t have a life right now,” Hathaway said. “And I haven’t for some time, and I just haven’t noticed.” She went on to tell the magazine that she hoped her next project would be working with Demme as a production assistant on his documentary about Bob Marley. “In the fall I’ll start focusing again,” she told W. “But right now I need to be me for a little bit.”
She never really took that time. By the fall, she was suddenly showing up with Shulman at events. He looked like Ryan Gosling and dressed like a hipster, but there were scant details known about his life. The press pounced: Who was he? Was he a rebound? A fling? An opportunist? In November 2008, with Hathaway at a New Orleans screening of Rachel Getting Married, Shulman told Life & Style: “We met through mutual friends.” Hathaway has seemed over the moon. “I am very much in love with him,” she told Marie Claire in September. “Adam totally ruined my plan. I was really actually looking forward to a little alone time and then I fell in love like a fool!”
The couple has spent the majority of their courtship in a downtown Brooklyn apartment. Over the weekend, they moved into different apartments but remain in Brooklyn. Shulman is often spotted walking Hathaway’s chocolate Lab, Esmerelda, a gift from Follieri. They opt for local hangouts like Building on Bond, where they’re regulars. “He’s wonderfully kind, really really nice, a really good dude,” says the restaurant’s manager. “He’s just a regular guy. I prefer not to say anything else.”
Is Shulman the rare celebrity boyfriend who hates the spotlight?
In Hathaway’s previous relationship, Follieri was the big spender, but Shulman’s career trajectory has been less flashy. He graduated from Brown’s drama department in 2003 and went on to make a handful of appearances in NBC’s American Dreams (2005) and the TV movie The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning. He now lists jewelry designer as his official occupation; he and a self-taught silversmith named Heidi Nahser Fink, from San Francisco, make sterling-silver and copper one-inch butterfly pendants that retail for $250.
Shulman’s résumé also includes a Burger King commercial, something that the paparazzi still mock him about. Dressed in a tennis shirt and shorts, Shulman flashes two large chicken sandwiches in a brief TV ad. “We called him BK Boy and he gets upset,” says a New York City paparazzo who frequently stalks the couple. “He’ll say, ‘Oh, f--k you, get a real job,’ and we’ll say, ‘Oh, you want us to get a real job? We have a real job. You’re doing Burger King commercials; you’re holding up burgers.’”
Like Follieri, Shulman suffers from sticky fingers, too. But he doesn’t steal from billionaires. In May 2010, he swiped a street-art project, presumably for kicks. A New York Post photographer captured Shulman and a pal stealing a portion of a meatpacking-district mural painted on a construction barrier by well-known street artist Mr. Brainwash. A witness told the Post that after the pair unscrewed the painting, “they took off like a ball of fire.” When the photo was published, it drew the attention—and ire—of the property owner where the mural hung. Ken Hart, president of H&H Builders, reportedly threatened to file theft charges against Shulman if he didn’t bring back the art. A contrite Shulman reportedly phoned an apology to Hart and returned the art. No charges were filed. (Hart did not reply to queries from Newsweek/The Daily Beast.)
Before college, Shulman lived in the tiny Boston suburb of Weston, Mass. His father, Mark, is a longtime retail executive who has headed Filene’s Basement, Henri Bendel, and Ann Taylor. His friends from Brown declined to comment, as did his former professors. When reached by phone at an address in Connecticut, his mother was gracious and warm as she declined an interview, telling me I sounded nice. “I can’t,” she said. “Adam would get upset. You should reach out to his people.” I hung up. Then I called her back to point out that he has no people, but she wouldn’t pick up her phone.
It’s hard to tell what prompts all this secrecy. Is Shulman the rare celebrity boyfriend who hates the spotlight? Is Hathaway overcorrecting for her previous fiancé meltdown? She used to speak about Follieri openly, in interview after interview, but she seems much more guarded now. She told Marie Claire U.K. in September as much, saying that “you do need to keep your private life private.”
A few days ago, I was completely surprised to find an email from Shulman himself, a response to my request for an interview. It was short but sincere. He thanked me for congratulating him on the engagement, and referred me to Hathaway’s publicist for any questions. “Hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you get to enjoy it. It’s such a beautiful day!” he said.
A few hours later, Stephen Huvane, Hathaway’s publicist, emailed me. “This is just not something that interests him,” he wrote. And that was the end of my search for Adam Shulman.