Just like Andy Sachs almost doesn’t get hired at Runway, Anne Hathaway almost didn’t book the lead role in The Devil Wears Prada. And just like her movie counterpart, she finally got the gig thanks to a supportive word from Meryl Streep.
In a new oral history of the film, which just turned 15 years old, many of the stars and producers spoke to Entertainment Weekly about putting the classic fashion-world satire together. Director David Frankel recalled, “We offered it to Rachel McAdams three times. The studio was determined to have her, and she was determined not to do it.”
Other contenders for the role apparently included Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Kate Hudson, and Kirsten Dunst. The article implies that Hathaway at the time was viewed more as a “teen” star and had to fight to be considered for a more “dramatic” role, even though the movie is mostly a comedy.
Former Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler said that Anne Hathaway was so set on playing Andy that “she never stopped campaigning, calling, she came into [Fox executive] Carla Hacken’s office and wrote in her zen garden, ‘Hire me.’” Not only that, but she had her own ideas for the script.
Said Gabler, “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.”
In Hathaway’s own words, the role and the script spoke to her. “It made me feel,” she explained. “It was about a subject that I take very seriously, but in such a wonderfully joyful and lighthearted way.”
Ultimately, it was the okay from Streep that secured the gig. Revealed Frankel, “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 [Hathaway] and called up Tom Rothman at Fox and said, ‘Yeah, this girl’s great, and I think we’ll work well together.’” And what Meryl says goes!
Knowing that she wasn’t the first choice for the part, Hathaway remembers being overjoyed when she finally booked it. She said, “I patiently waited until it was my turn, and I got the call. It was the easiest yes in the world. I remember the moment I found out I got the part, I just ran screaming through my apartment. I had a bunch of friends over at the time, I just jumped up in the living room and screamed, ‘I’m going to be in The Devil Wears Prada!’”
And Rachel McAdams was never heard from again. (Kidding. Obviously! She’s doing great.)