But in a new tell-all with Variety for the film’s 10th anniversary, the actresses reveal how they all nearly missed out on the project.
Streep, who famously played icy fashion editor Miranda Priestly in the film, knew immediately after reading the script that she had a major hit on her hands – but the financial side of the deal wasn’t exactly up to snuff.
“The offer was to my mind slightly, if not insulting, not perhaps reflective of my actual value to the project,” Streep tells Variety. “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.”
At least part of the reason why Fox 2000 was so quick to up the ante was that no one could envision a suitable replacement for Streep. “I don’t remember anything other than, ‘Please God – let it be Meryl,’ ” says Carla Hacken, the studio’s former executive vice president.
Hathaway, on the other hand, had to fight for her part. Best known at this point in her career for family-friendly roles like The Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted, the actress now had a potential project that offered a great opportunity to transition into more adult roles.
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After she first met Hacken, the actress remembers spelling the words “hire me” in the sand of the executive’s Zen garden. But Fox wanted an established movie star, and Rachel McAdams, fresh off hits like The Notebook and Mean Girls, was a favorite for the part. “I had to be patient. I wasn’t the first choice,” Hathaway says.
Fortunately for her, McAdams turned down the part several times in hopes of moving away from mainstream material. When Hathaway finally got the call, she says, “I had some buddies over. I remember running out in my living room, half dressed, screaming – I got The Devil Wears Prada! I got The Devil Wears Prada!”
Meanwhile, executives were considering more than 100 actresses for the part of Emily, the mean-girl first assistant. At the time, Blunt was auditioning for the studio’s would-be blockbuster Eragon, and when a casting agent put her on an audition tape for Prada, she read the lines for her American character in a British accent. Nevertheless, the execs liked the tape, and when Eragon fell through, a devastated Blunt got the call.
“I was in some dive club in London,” Blunt says. “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?’ ” Her first audition for the fashionista had been in jeans and flip-flops.
In the end, however, everything paid off: The film rocketed both Blunt and Hathaway to stardom, and snagged Streep her 12th Oscar nomination. It went on to gross $326 million worldwide.