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Image / Living / Culture

Meryl Streep said she was ‘miserable’ on ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ set


by Sarah Finnan
15th Jun 2021
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‘The Devil Wears Prada’ celebrates its 15-year-anniversary this year and the cast and crew have been divulging previously unknown secrets about the film in celebration of the milestone.

It’s not often we get to see the cast of one of our favourite movies reunite, but fans of the instant-cult classic The Devil Wears Prada were treated to a rare group interview this week. Rallying the troops together for a chat, it coincided with the film’s 15-year anniversary, and let’s just say that lots of tea was spilled.

The backstory

First released back in 2006, the movie is based on a Lauren Weisberger novel of the same name. Though not entirely true to real-life – events have been fictionalised to a certain extent – the book is widely believed to be about Weisberger’s own experiences working at Vogue as an assistant to Anna Wintour.

Arguably one of the first times that the cut-throat side of the fashion industry had been laid out so plainly for all to see, the movie highlighted the dog-eat-dog mentality that being part of that world demanded. Glamourising it while simultaneously condemning it, the screen adaptation appealed to both industry pros and mere mortals alike and it either inspired you or deterred you from pursuing a career in fashion. We were all enthralled by what we saw… even if we were terrified of Miranda Priestly. An absolute force to be reckoned with, only Meryl Streep could do such a character justice but as it turns out, taking on the role wasn’t such a fun experience for the seasoned actress. 

Method actress no more

So committed was she to actually becoming her character that she tried to stay in the Miranda Priestly mindset even when the cameras weren’t rolling. According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Streep “sometimes laced her real-life interactions with (Emily) Blunt and (Anne) Hathaway with ice” in an effort to better fit the role of a domineering boss. 

Speaking of her time on set, Streep simply said that “it was horrible”. “I was [miserable] in my trailer. I could hear them all rocking and laughing. I was so depressed. I said, ‘Well, it’s the price you pay for being boss’. That’s the last time I ever attempted a method thing.”

Describing her co-star as “gregarious and fun as hell”, Blunt realised that having to remove herself mustn’t have been “the most fun” for Meryl. She played the villain to perfection, but it was almost to her detriment. 

Also chiming in how their off-camera interactions affected her, Hathaway admitted that though she “did feel intimidated”, she “always felt cared for” too. Personally selected for the role by Streep after she saw Hathaway in Brokeback Mountain, it’s clear that there was a lot of love between the two actresses.

“I knew that whatever she was doing to create that fear, I appreciated [because] I also knew she was watching out for me,” the former Princess Diaries star told EW

“There’s this scene where [she says], ‘You’re just as disappointing as the rest of those silly girls’ and I remember when the camera turned on me, the pressure really got to me, and I’d had such emotional fluidity in the day up to that point, but it just wasn’t there anymore. I remember having the experience of watching [her] watch me, and [she] altered [her] performance ever so slightly, and just made it a little bit different, and brought more out of me and got me to break through whatever barrier I had.”

Alternate ending

There are few things we love more than learning niche movie trivia and the cast and crew were more than willing to dish the dirt, even revealing that there was an alternate ending planned – one which Nate featured heavily in. 

“The movie used to end with a slightly more upbeat scene with Nate, more of a reconciliation. They’re so young and they’re choosing spouses for their life, but we know that 25-year-olds are not in that position…. I had written a more conventional ending where they run through the park together or something,” screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna said.

The “real villain”

Addressing the notion that Nate truly is the worst character of the film, actor Adrian Grenier said it took him a while to agree with people. “When that whole thing [about Nate being the “real villain” of the film] first came out, I couldn’t get my head around it. I didn’t understand it. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t mature as a man, just as Nate probably could’ve used a little growing up. 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 realise the truth in that perspective. 

“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.” Glad we’re finally on the same page about that one. 

You can watch the full interview below.

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