13 Behind-The-Scenes Stories That Prove ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ Will Never Go Out Of Style

Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Adrian Grenier. The 2006 star-studded movie based on Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 novel of the same name has secured its place in ’00s pop culture and is an overall fan-favorite within the comedy-drama genre. The fashion-based film may have premiered over 15 years ago, yet the iconic moments and ice-cold quotes are still as fresh as ever and can be constantly found referenced in pop culture today.

Even if you’ve had 100 rewatches of the film and can recall every Miranda Priestly clapback, Andy endeavor, or Nate nag, these behind-the-scenes stories will give you an even bigger appreciation for the movie on that inevitable next rewatch.

You will not be prepared for all the anecdotes you are about to encounter. No, no, that wasn’t a question.

1. In True Andy Behavior, Anne Hathaway Secured The Role Through Her Persistency

Photo: 20th Century Fox

In the early 2000s, Anne Hathaway was mostly known for her teen-driven role in The Princess Diaries. The studio making The Devil Wears Prada wanted early ’00s female stars like Kate Hudson and Rachel McAdams for the lead role of Andy. 

But Hathaway had her sights set on the role of Miranda Priestly’s assistant. “It spoke to me,” Hathaway said. “It made me feel. It was about a subject that I take very seriously, but in such a wonderfully joyful and lighthearted way.”

Former Fox 2000 President Elizabeth Gabler talked about Hathaway’s persistence:

I remember her sitting on my sofa in my office and explaining why she wanted to do this, why she had to play this role, and giving script notes about the third act. When I look back on it, it wasn’t exactly what we ended up doing, but her sensibilities were completely aligned with what we ended up doing… Annie never gave up. She never stopped campaigning, calling, she came into [Fox executive] Carla Hacken’s office and wrote in her zen garden, “Hire me.”

2. The Cost Of The Movie’s Clothing And Accessories Exceeded $1 Million

Photo: 20th Century Fox

In a movie about the world of fashion, the clothing and accessories budget needs to be impressive. Fittingly, The Devil Wears Prada features $12,000 handbags, $40,000 fur coats, and 60 different costumes for Miranda Priestly alone. 

“It has to be over 100 designers,” film stylist Patricia Field said. “We must have used at least $1 million worth of clothing.”

The costume budget was only $100,000. However, Field’s friends in the fashion industry helped to stock the movie with plenty of high-end designers.

“This was a movie of wardrobe montages,” Fields said. “It was a parade of coats and bags. And every time you saw her, there was a different outfit underneath.”

Meryl Streep recalled:

These clothes cost so much money. One of the handbags was $12,000. It’s almost inconceivable to me. So then a $4,000 bag seems like a bargain. You just readjust your whole way of thinking. It’s just insane.

3. Before Emily Blunt Was Found, Over 100 Actresses Tried Out For The Role Of Emily Charlton

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Emily Blunt was still an unknown actor when director David Frankel was trying to cast the part of Miranda Priestly’s assistant Emily Charlton. Frankel auditioned over 100 actors for the role of the neurotic and cold fashionista, but could not find the right fit.

At the time, Blunt was auditioning on the Fox lot for the lead role in the fantasy movie Eragon. A casting agent decided to send Frankel a tape of the British actor. The director loved the audition and offered Blunt the opportunity to try out in front of Fox executives.  

“I was in some dive club in London,” Blunt said. “I called him back from the bathroom. He said, ‘Listen, I would have cast you off the tape, but the studio wants to see you one more time. Can you do what you did but dress the part more?’”

Blunt won the role, and Frankel changed the assistant from American to British. Blunt went on to steal every scene she was in. The movie instantly made her a star.

“The day the movie came out, all the people in the bakery suddenly knew who I was,” Blunt said. “It was surreal.”

4. Stanley Tucci Was Cast As Nigel Just Three Days Before He Began Filming

Photo: 20th Century Fox

“All right everyone, gird your loins!”

Filmmakers had trouble finding an actor to play Runway stylist extraordinaire Nigel in the film. Nigel, who serves as Miranda’s most trusted underling and later helps Andy step up her fashion game, is loyal and hardworking, with a clever wit that provides some of the best quips in the film.

According to director David Frankel, the movie was five or six weeks into filming and the creators still hadn’t found their Nigel:  

I probably met 150 guys to play Nigel and had sort of very specific criteria that we were aiming for… The studio was freaking out because the part hadn’t been cast. It was like on a Friday and the part worked on a Monday. I went to lunch with Stanley and I loved him.

Stanley Tucci talked about what drew him to Nigel:

I was cast at the 11th hour… but it was just such a beautiful piece of writing, and there’s no way that you could ever say no to such a thing. It was gorgeous. On a structural level, as a script, you could certainly visualize it as a film, but the script had pace to it, and it touched you emotionally. It’s the perfect Hollywood movie.

5. The Box-Office Success Of The Movie Is What Made Anna Wintour Become A Household Name In Pop Culture

Photo: Late Night with Seth Meyers / NBC

After The Devil Wears Prada became a box-office hit and cultural phenomenon, fashion editor Anna Wintour’s public popularity skyrocketed. 

Wintour, named one of Barbara Walter’s Most Fascination People in 2006, had always been a big deal in the fashion industry, but the film made her a household name worldwide. 

Wintour’s close friend Anne McNally said:

She sees it as part of her job. She’s very conscious that this is a persona that is existing at the moment because she has that job, and the minute she doesn’t have that job, she knows it’s going to be different.

6. Out Of Fear For Anna Wintour, Multiple Fashion Designers Allegedly Declined Any Involvement In The Film At First

Photo: 20th Century Fox

The Devil Wears Prada, based on Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 novel of the same name, focuses on how demanding and often frightening Miranda Priestly is to work for. Priestly is a fictionalized version of Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour.

Couture houses were initially reluctant to be a part of the movie. Director David Frankel explained:

There were [initially] no designers of note who would appear in the film. They just didn’t want to incur the wrath of Anna [Wintour]…I think it was Prada that helped her break the ice and said that Anna’s not going to be upset.

7. Despite Disliking It, Meryl Did In Fact Go Method For Miranda

Photo: 20th Century Fox

To capture the essence of the intimidating, no-nonsense Runway editor Miranda Priestly, Oscar-winning actor Meryl Streep decided to separate herself from the cast.

“It was horrible!” Streep admitted. “I was [miserable] in my trailer. I could hear them all rocking and laughing. I was so depressed… that’s the last time I ever attempted a method thing!”

Streep, who was nominated for an Oscar for best actress for playing Priestly, also had a hand in helping Anne Hathaway win the role of Andy. 

Director David Frankel recalled:

Meryl was eager to make the movie, and she said, “Let me meet with her.” Brokeback Mountain was about to come out. Annie had a wonderful, small role in that. And Meryl watched that scene from the movie, she met with her and called up Tom Rothman at Fox and said, “Yeah, this girl’s great, and I think we’ll work well together.”

8. Meryl Streep Has Said She Actually Didn’t Model Miranda After Anna Wintour

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Meryl Streep plays authoritarian and intimidating Runway fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, a character loosely based on Anna Wintour, who has served as editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988. 

However, Streep did not base Priestly entirely on Wintour. In fact, Wintour is British, and Streep opted to make the character American. She explained her inspiration:

Unfortunately you don’t have enough women in power, or at least I don’t know them, to copy. Most of my models for this character were male. I know the book was based on an assistant’s-eye view of Anna Wintour, but it didn’t interest me to do a documentary of Anna Wintour. I didn’t know anything about her and I only met her at the first benefit. 

You might think someone as domineering as Priestly would raise her voice when angry or unsatisfied. But Priestly barely speaks above a whisper while doling out the harshest criticism. She doesn’t need to yell and make a scene; her steely glare and calm demeanor are intimidating enough to make grown men cry. Streep said:

The voice I got from Clint Eastwood. He never, ever, ever raises his voice and everyone has to lean in to listen, and he is automatically the most powerful person in the room. But he is not funny. That I stole from Mike Nichols. The way the cruelest cutting remark, if it is delivered with a tiny self-amused curlicue of irony, is the most effective instruction, the most memorable correction, because everyone laughs, even the target. The walk, I’m afraid, is mine.

“That’s all.”

9. Before Lauren Weisberger Was Even Done Writing The Book The Movie Is Based Off Of, Fox Bought The Rights To It

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Thanks to reality shows like Project Runway, the early ’00s were a hot time for the fashion industry. During that time Lauren Weisberger started writing her book The Devil Wears Prada, which was inspired by her stint as a personal assistant for Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Well before Weisberger finished the novel, then-Fox studio executive president Carla Hacken read the first hundred pages of her manuscript. Hacken knew the source material would make a great film and purchased the rights.

“I was the first person to read it at Fox 2000 [Pictures],” Hacken said. “I thought Miranda Priestly was one of the greatest villains ever. I remember we aggressively went in and scooped it up.”

Fox decided to begin adapting the book to the big screen before the author completed her novel. Weisberger’s book went on to spend six months on the New York Times bestseller list.

10. As A Fun Nod To The Film, Anna Wintour Wore Prada To The Premiere

Photo: Myleskalus / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

How would Anna Wintour react to The Devil Wears Prada? Both Meryl Streep and The Devil Wears Prada author Lauren Weisberger insist that the merciless Miranda Priestly isn’t a total sendup of Wintour. However, it’s clear that Wintour and Priestly share many of the same stern characteristics.

Wintour attended the movie’s premiere screening in New York City. The fashion icon clearly had a good sense of humor by showing up wearing Prada (Wintour is pictured here in 2019, not at the premiere). 

“I remember her daughter nudging her through the screening, like, ‘They got that right!'” director David Frankel said. 

Wintour told Barbara Walters in 2006 that she thought the film was good for the fashion industry:

Anything that makes fashion entertaining and glamorous and interesting is wonderful for our industry. So I was 100% behind it. I think it’s actually helpful to people that you are working with, that you can make decisions. So, if Meryl seemed somewhat strong, I respect that.

11. After Meeting At The Movie Premiere, Stanley Tucci Ended Up Marrying Emily Blunt’s Sister

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Stanley Tucci, who plays Andy’s work BFF and fashion stylist, is married to co-star Emily Blunt’s sister Felicity. Tucci met Felicity at the premiere of The Devil Wears Prada. However, he was married to his first wife Kate at the time. 

Kate passed in 2009 from cancer. 

A year later, Tucci ran into Felicity at Emily and John Krasinski’s wedding at George Clooney’s house in Lake Como, Italy. “I was afraid to get into a relationship and I kept trying to break it off,” said Tucci. “I’m 21 years older than she is and I didn’t want to feel old for the rest of my life! But I knew that this was an incredibly special person.”

Tucci and Felicity married in 2012 and have two children.

12. Don Rickles Was Referenced As Inspiration For Miranda’s Cold Quips

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Mirada Priestly is savage and ice-cold. She doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings and doles out insults like Tic Tacs. 

“No, no, get away from her. She’s useless and unattractive.”

“Take a chance. Hire the smart, fat girl.”

“Details of your incompetence do not interest me.”

The film’s writer, Aline Brosh McKenna, got her inspiration for the fashion editor from perhaps the greatest insult comic ever, as she explained:

I love insults. I grew up watching Don Rickles with my dad, and that was a huge influence. It allowed me to channel parts of my own personality that maybe I normally need to keep hidden.

13. Adrian Grenier Now Criticizes Nate The Nagging Boyfriend As Much As The Majority Of The Film’s Fans Do

Photo: 20th Century Fox

You likely know the trope of the nagging movie girlfriend/wife who is always complaining that her partner works too much and doesn’t spend enough time at home. The Devil Wears Prada flips the trope and makes Andy’s boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier) the nag.

Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna explained:

That was a “girlfriend” part, really. That’s a part that a lot of women end up playing, the “why aren’t you home more,” the naggy wife. I have to say, that character was the biggest challenge to write, and oddly, the character [director David Frankel] and I talked about the most, because we wanted to make sure he wasn’t a pain in the a**, but he is the person who is trying to say, “Is this who you want to be morally?”

Unfortunately for Nate (and maybe Adrian Grenier), the character has received tons of social media backlash. He’s been called “the worst boyfriend ever,” and endlessly criticized for his offhand comments about the fashion industry and being mopey after Andy misses his birthday party.

“Nate is an immature, Jarlsberg-preoccupied egomaniac, and frankly, I think Andy can do better,” opined Repeller writer Harling Ross.

Actor Grenier agreed:

I was just as immature as him at the time, so I couldn’t see his shortcomings, but, after taking time to reflect and much deliberation online, I can realize the truth in that perspective… He couldn’t support her like she needed because he was a fragile, wounded boy… on behalf of all the Nates out there: Come on! Step it up!