It’s been ten years since The Devil Wears Prada came out…
*pause to pick your jaw off the goddamn floor*
…and Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway sat down for a lil’ chin wag with Variety about the little movie that could. Seriously, this thing was meant to be little – a fluffy film to sit opposite Superman Returns, and it went on to gross $326 million worldwide.
It’s a bloody great piece, with intriguing insights from all involved (including Stanley Tucci, who’s now married to Emily Blunt’s sister, and director David Frankel), but some of the best bits concern the title character, so to speak.
In Lauren Weisberger‘s original best-selling novel, Andy (Hathaway) sets out to get revenge on Miranda Priestly (Streep), which kinda makes sense when you realise that Weisberger was (briefly) an assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour, whom of course Priestly’s character is based on.
They do not.
Hathaway says that during the first script reading, when Streep read out her lines in her Miranda Priestly voice, the whole place fell silent.
“I think we all had an idea of what Miranda would sound like,” she said. “It was a strident, bossy, barking voice. So when Meryl opened her mouth and basically whispered, everybody in the room drew a collective gasp. It was so unexpected and brilliant.”
Streep says Miranda’s voice was inspired by 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.”
Streep is also responsible for one, tiny tweak to the script that ended up being the most powerful line in a movie full of quotable lines. At the end, when Miranda and Andy are about to get out of a cab, Streep was supposed to say, “Everybody wants to be me,” but instead, she changed it to “Everybody wants to be us.”
Producers of the film tried to jip Streep of her rightful and proper pay, but she was having none of that, and it is a lesson we should all take to heart.
“The offer was to my mind slightly, if not insulting, not perhaps reflective of my actual value to the project,” said the Oscar-winning actress. “There was my ‘goodbye moment,’ and then they doubled the offer. I was 55, and I had just learned, at a very late date, how to deal on my own behalf.
Honestly, the whole thing is absolutely worth a read, and you can do so over here.
Photo: The Devil Wears Prada.