It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Meryl Streep playing Miranda Priestly in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. But in a new oral history of the now-iconic movie published in Entertainment Weekly on Monday, June 14, it was revealed that Meryl wasn’t the only choice for the role—and that she had to be convinced to take on the project.
According to the oral history, which commemorates the 15th anniversary of the film’s theatrical release, actresses Glenn Close, Michelle Pfieffer, and Catherine Zeta-Jones were discussed and considered for the role of Priestly. It was Tom Rothman, studio head of the film company behind The Devil Wears Prada, who called and convinced Meryl to do the movie.
The Devil Wears Prada is based on the novel of the same name by Lauren Weisberger, inspired by her time working with fashion magazine Vogue and its editor in chief Anna Wintour. Miranda Priestly, the movie’s icy and intimidating editor in chief, is seen by many as modelled on Wintour.
“I wasn't interested in doing a biopic on Anna; I was interested in her position in her company. I wanted to take on the burdens she had to carry, along with having to look nice every day,” she said.
Anne Hathaway, who plays the movie’s protagonist Andy Sachs, and Emily Blunt, who plays Miranda’s assistant Emily Charlton, said they felt intimidated by Meryl on set, as she, according to the oral history, “laced her real-life interactions with Blunt and Hathaway with ice.” This is in line with previous reports that Meryl did method acting—living out her role onscreen and offscreen—while filming The Devil Wears Prada.
Meryl said that was the last time she did method acting for a movie. “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!” she said.
And it turns out Meryl’s influence in the film extended beyond her amazing portrayal of Miranda Priestly, as the actress revealed she called Rothman to say that Anne Hathaway is the right actress for the lead role of the movie.
Earlier this year, in an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Anne revealed that she was the ninth choice to play Andy Sachs. In the Entertainment Weekly oral history of the movie, it was revealed that Rachel McAdams, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Kate Hudson, and Kirsten Dunst were among the actresses considered for the role. But Anne persisted because the role “spoke” to her.
The movie’s director David Frankel said Meryl was convinced Anne was the actress for the role after seeing her in Brokeback Mountain. 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'," Frankel said.