Of all the things Taylor Swift fans were excited about when it came to the release of Red (Taylor's Version), the long-fabled, original 10-minute version of "All Too Well" was easily No. 1 on the list. And, since Taylor Swift has a long history of dropping Da Vinci Code-level clues and puzzles into, well, everything, those same diehard fans immediately set about over-analyzing the new lyrics in the song.
One of the first mysteries that caught fans' attention came in the third verse, when Taylor sings about an unnamed "actress" who comforted her in a bathroom during a low moment in the relationship the song is based on (most fans agree the track documents Taylor's three-month 'ship with Jake Gyllenhaal). Here are the lyrics in question:
They say all's well that ends well
But I'm in a new Hell every time
You double-cross my mind
You said if we had been closer in age
Maybe it would have been fine
And that made me want to die
The idea you had of me, who was she
A never-needy, ever-lovely jewel
Whose shine reflects on you
Not weeping in a party bathroom
Some actress asking me what happened, you
That's what happened, you
The lyric collectively had Twitter like:
So, who exactly was the actress who took the time to ask Taylor what happened in that party bathroom? Naturally, the internet has thoughts. A *LOT* of thoughts. Here's a breakdown of the top theories.
Theory 1: The "All Too Well" actress is Jennifer Aniston
One of the most-shared theories about the identity of the actress suggests that it was none other than Rachel Green herself who checked in on a 20-year-old Tay during her party bathroom sob-fest.
This theory can be traced back to a NY Daily News story from 2011 in which an "insider" told the outlet they had spotted Jennifer Aniston passing some love life wisdom on to Taylor at the People's Choice Awards (and, you know, awards shows are a kind of party...just not a kind of party that we mere mortals get to chill at).
Is it legit?
This theory is just plain juicy. It's the kind of tea we've all been thirsty for without realizing it.
Unfortunately, while it's definitely eyebrow-raising that Jennifer Aniston was reportedly seen giving Taylor love advice at around the time she would have been reeling from the "All Too Well" relationship, we can't fully endorse this theory.
According to the Daily News report, Jen told Tay to "hang in there," but that advice was reportedly "in the face of relentless press about her love life," which doesn't totally track with the vibe we get from the song (which seems to imply that when the actress in question asked what happen, Taylor made it clear she was crying about a very specific person and not the more general and pervasive problem of the media covering her love life.
The Daily News story went on to say that, "We hear the two had not previously met, but Aniston 'wanted Taylor to know everything will be okay'" and that Jen told Taylor to "go out there and have fun."
The Daily News report didn't include mention of Taylor crying (which any anonymous celebrity tipster worth their salt would have mentioned, no?), but since Jen had a personal connection to Taylor's love life—they both dated John Mayer circa 2009-ish—she wouldn't have really needed an instigating moment like witnesses bathroom weeping to strike up a little love life convo with the singer.
But also this:
Theory 2: The "All Too Well" actress is Anne Hathaway
The other top theory circulating about the "All Too Well" actress' identity argues that it was Anne Hathaway who witnessed the bathroom cry sesh. We can thank an interview Anne gave in 2015 for Glamour U.K. for this one.
In the interview in question, Anne shared her love and admiration for Taylor, along with a *very* brief anecdote about meeting the singer. The anecdote is so brief, in fact, that the only firm detail it includes is that it occurred when Taylor was 20 and dating Jake Gyllenhaal (who, remember, is pretty much universally thought to be the inspo behind "All Too Well").
"She just seems to be following her heart," Anne said. "I met her—I hope it's OK to say this—when she and Jake [Gyllenhaal] were together. She was 20 at the time, and we hung out one night. I was like, 'You are a magnificent creature.' She was on fire and I've watched her become this force of nature."
Is it legit?
Well, the Anne Hathaway theory certainly has timeline consistency on its side. Also, unlike the Jen/Taylor encounter, this one is totally verified and on-the-record, since it comes from Anne herself. Also, there's a subset of Twitter that is BEYOND here for it:
And, honestly, as "All Too Well" actress theories go, we have to admit we like this one. The timing is SPOT. ON. Anne co-starred with Jake in Love & Other Drugs around the time he and Taylor dated and they had previously worked together on Brokeback Mountain, so we could even see her being on the guestlist for a dinner party similar to the one highlighted in All Too Well: The Short Film (meaning the "party" in question could have been much more low-key than an industry event).
We just...like it. It feels like it could be true. We're giving this theory a very solid maybe.
Theory 3: The "All Too Well" actress is Maggie Gyllenhaal
While Jennifer Aniston and Anne Hathaway have definitely been the focus of most of the fan theories about the "All Too Well" actress' identity, there is a small group who just feel in their guts that the actress is none other than Jake's sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Proponents of this theory take the "party" line in a super intimate direction and see it as a reference to a family get-together Taylor attended (she *did* spend Thanksgiving with him in 2010).
Is it legit?
Critics of this theory are very quick to point out that Maggie already has a mention in the song—in the "I left my scarf there at your sister's house" line. Why, they ask, would Taylor refer to Maggie as her lover's sister in one lyric and as "some actress" in another? TBH, we're in the camp of people who doubt Taylor would miss the opportunity to drag the fact that her ex's own sister came to her aid in a bathroom if it had, in fact, been Maggie.
Also, Maggie has publicly claimed a lot of ¯\_(?)_/¯ when it comes to the lyrical revelations of "All Too Well." Case-in-point: During a 2017 appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, she made it clear that she's v confused about why people constantly ask her about Taylor Swift's old scarf.
"I never understood why everybody asked me about this scarf. I am in the dark about the scarf," she said when asked about the current status of the infamous accessory. "It's totally possible, I don't know."
Based on the current prevailing theories, we're most swayed by the evidence that Anne Hathaway is the mysterious actress in the bathroom Taylor mentions in the 10-minute version of "All Too Well." We're still very open to other theories and evidence, so send it our way if you dig anything up, plz?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.