The Devil Wears Prada Still Has Secrets to Tell

Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep in 'The Devil Wears Prada'
© 2006 Twentieth Century Fox

There’s a good chance that at some point over the last 15 years, you’ve rewatched The Devil Wears Prada at least once or twice. Blame it on schädenfreude or sympathy, there was just something irresistible about the story of a personal assistant toiling away for a meticulous fashion magazine editor. Today, more than a decade after director David Frankel released his adaptation of Lauren Weisberger’s titular novel, the same is still true; there’ll even be a Devil Wears Prada Broadway musical soon.

In the meantime, Entertainment Weekly has embraced the nostalgia by assembling the cast and crew, including costars Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep, for an oral history. They share so many memories and reveals in the latter that it’s hard to keep track. Ahead of your nth viewing, read on for the most surprising (and occasionally juicy) tidbits.

  • The role of Andy was a turning point for Hathaway, then best known for The Princess Diaries. It took relentless perseverance for her to ward off the A-list competition: Kirsten Dunst, Kate Hudson, Scarlett Johansson, and Natalie Portman. In the end, it came down to Hathaway and the studio’s dream actress, Rachel McAdams, who turned them down three times.
  • Glenn Close, Michelle Pfieffer, and Catherine Zeta-Jones all went up for the role of Miranda. Like Frankel, Streep initially needed some convincing. “I wasn’t interested in doing a biopic on Anna [Wintour],” the actor recalled. “I was interested in her position in her company. I wanted to take on the burdens she had to carry.”
  • Streep, who had to fight for Miranda’s hair to be white instead of grey, would at times channel her character in real life. “It was horrible!” she said. “I was [miserable] in my trailer. I could hear them all rocking and laughing. I was so depressed! ‘Well, it’s the price you pay for being boss!’ That's the last time I ever attempted a Method thing!”
  • Hathaway prepped for the verbal abuse by reading books like Madame Butterfly, getting teary before returning to set.
  • At first, costume designer Patricia Field couldn’t convince a single designer of note to risk “incur[ring] the wrath” of Wintour. (Though one confidante did offer some feedback on the script: “The people in this movie are too nice.”) As Frankel recalls, it was Miuccia Prada who broke the floodgates, convinced that Wintour wouldn’t be upset. Meanwhile, the fear extended over to the Met, which is home to the Anna Wintour Costume Institute, and Bryant Park, then the venue of New York Fashion Week. When it came to Miranda’s apartment, even co-op boards wouldn’t do it. As for her office, a spy who snuck into Wintour’s recalled it so well that the editor-in-chief reportedly redecorated immediately after seeing it.
  • The cast and crew found out Wintour’s reaction soon enough. Along with her daughter, Bee Shaffer, she unexpectedly attended the first screening in New York City—wearing Prada. “I remember her daughter nudging her through the screening, like, ‘They got that right!,’” Frankel said. Wintour may have been a good sport at the time, but she withdrew her hand mid-handshake when the director introduced himself at a tennis tournament a couple years later.
  • By the time producers cast Stanley Tucci as Nigel, the magazine’s art director, they’d passed on a whopping 150 people. His most memorable line—“gird your loins,” just before Miranda’s first appearance, was almost quite different: “We attempted [saying] ‘tits in.’ That was one I made up, but every time we laughed.”
  • Another of the film’s most memorable lines—“Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking”—almost fell by the wayside due to budget constraints. Hard as it is to believe, the crew also almost cut Miranda’s quiet monologue on cerulean.
  • Streep was surprised to learn of the film’s mass appeal. “This is the first movie [where] men have come up to me and said, ‘I know how you felt; I have a company, and nobody understands me. It's really hard.’” She suspects the admission wasn’t easy: “It’s the hardest thing in the world for a man to feel his way through to the protagonist of the film if it’s a woman.”
  • Adrien Grenier was stunned when he first heard of the perception that his character, Andy’s boyfriend Nate, was the real villain. “Perhaps it was because I wasn't mature as a man, just as Nate probably could've used a little growing up,” he said. “I was just as immature as him at the time, so I couldn't see his shortcomings.” He has since come to see the light. “Nate hadn't grown up, but Andy had... she needed more out of life, and she was achieving it. He couldn’t support her like she needed because he was a fragile, wounded boy.” He’s also learned from his (and Nate’s) mistakes: “On behalf of all the Nates out there, come on! Step it up!”
  • Finally, the question they’ve all heard countless times: Will there be a sequel? According to Frankel, the studio never asked for one. “I wouldn't say it’s out of the realm of possibility,” Weisberger, the author, said. “There have been a lot of conversations about it,” whether if they should adapt her later novel about Emily or if they’d just be telling the same old story. The latter would require some major adjustments: It’s been a long, long time since the halcyon days of editors reviewing their magazines strictly through physical drafts dropped off by sleepy assistants.