‘The Devil Wears Prada’: How Meryl Streep Prepared to Play Miranda Priestly

Largely considered to be one of the best actors of her generation, Meryl Streep has had no shortage of iconic roles in her career. But, one role that fans find to be particularly fun and delicious to experience over and over again is Streep’s portrayal of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wear Prada. Miranda is the high-powered editor of the top fashion magazine with ridiculous expectations and a biting tongue.

The Devil Wears Prada star Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep | Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

But just how did Streep prepare for such an iconic role? A true savant in the craft of acting, Streep spent hours building the character of Miranda. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Aline Brosh McKenna, who served as the screenwriter for The Devil Wears Prada, gave fans some insight into Streep’s preparation process. To start, the Doubt actor invited McKenna, and the film’s director, and producer to her home to discuss the script at length. There, Streep began giving insights into how she saw the character and asking questions to help her to better understand Miranda.

How Meryl Streep prepared for her role in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’

“We sat with her for a long time, maybe four or five hours, and went through it,” McKenna shared about painstakingly going through The Devil Wears Prada script. “I don’t think I’ll be surprising anyone when I say she was incredibly smart about the script and incredibly smart about the character. She really stressed the lack of vanity about Miranda—that Miranda was really focused on her work and was under certain pressures, as a woman in that position of power. I do think a lot of female bosses struggle with people thinking they’re a bit*h, or they’re cold, or they’re difficult.”

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Mckenna continued on to say that this lack of vanity is something that Streep shared with character. “Meryl is someone who has no vanity about her performances and isn’t concerned about being likable,” the screenwriter added. “She was more concerned about getting to the pith of what made this woman tick. One thing I remember her saying to me is that Miranda would be the calm at the center of the storm. She might inspire frenzy in others, but she, herself, had this ability to maintain a calm. It’s one of the reasons that she’s terrifying to people because things that would concern and upset other people, she doesn’t let them get to her.”

The Oscar winner drew inspiration from powerful people like Clint Eastwood

After Streep developed a strong sense of who Miranda was, she did even more personal research. She began noticing the patterns and tendencies of powerful people that she knew and borrowed some of them to build her character. For example, the reason that Miranda never raises her voice in The Devil Wears Prada is because Streep recalled that Clint Eastwood was super soft-spoken, yet always garnered a tremendous amount of respect.

Streep terrified ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ screenwriter

Even though McKenna knew that Streep had done a tremendous amount of work to build her character, she was still shocked when she saw Streep fully embody the role for the first time. “She was terrifying,” McKenna confessed. “The first scene I saw was when she turns around to glare at Andy from the top of the stairs. I was so terrified by her look alone that I threw my arm out in front of the director like we were in a car wreck. I was so scared,” the screenwriter shared about the Big Little Lies alum.

With so much preparation and thought put into this role alone, we can see what Streep is the actor that she is. We’re sure that fans of The Devil Wears Prada will be enjoying her character for years to come. That’s all.