'Devil Wears Prada' director and writer explain THAT deleted scene: 'It was so misguided'

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

In the past week, a deleted scene from The Devil Wears Prada began buzzing online, and fans reacted with the kind of horror that Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) reserves for lumpy blue sweaters. In the minute-long scene — described as “so bad it’ll ruin the whole movie for you” by the writer who tweeted the clip, Buzzfeed’s Spencer Althouse — Streep’s powerful fashion-magazine editor is embarrassed by her belligerently drunk husband (James Naughton, mostly unseen in the film) at a black-tie benefit. Miranda’s new assistant Andy (Anne Hathaway) intervenes, prompting an out-of-character “thank you” from her chilly boss. The clip (a “head scratcher” that “sent fans of the film into a complete frenzy,” “will totally change how you see the movie,” and is “clouding [the film’s] legacy,” according to various media outlets) appeared as an extra on the original DVD release of the 2006 comedy, and was posted to YouTube by a fan in 2015. It’s not exactly new — so why is it suddenly a hot topic? Director David Frankel and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (who was alerted to the viral clip by a writer on her CW series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) are baffled, if flattered. And as they tell Yahoo Movies, they agree completely with fans who believe the scene is all wrong for The Devil Wears Prada.

Watch the viral deleted scene from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’

“I honestly have no recollection of shooting this scene,” director Frankel tells Yahoo Movies. “I don’t think I ever saw this scene in a cut of the movie, because I encouraged the editor to take out anything that shouldn’t be in, and I think he took it out.”

In fact, prior to our conversation, Frankel checked in with producer Karen Rosenfelt to see if she remembered anything about the scene. “She said, ‘Oh, we shot that at two in the morning, you were asleep and you didn’t even want to shoot it. You didn’t even believe at the time that it would ever be in the movie,’” Frankel explains with a laugh. “So it was just one of those things where it was early enough in the shoot that I couldn’t tell the studio, ‘Hey, I’m not shooting part of the screenplay.’”

“It was never in the movie,” he clarifies. “And I don’t even know why it was in the screenplay. It was so misguided.”

McKenna, however, remembers exactly why it was in the screenplay. “If you look at that section of the movie, Andy gets rewarded by going to Paris for having done basically nothing — she remembers one name,” the screenwriter tells Yahoo Movies. “So I remembered when we were working on it, it was like, we should maybe have her do something more substantial to help. A lot of what we were trying to calibrate in telling the story was the tiny little marks of her succeeding in the job. So getting the Harry Potter book was one, and there are these little dots along the way where she’s doing slightly better.”

And you can see when you see the [deleted] scene that it’s too much,” McKenna continues. “Andy intervenes too much. She’s way too acknowledged by Miranda. The ‘thank you’? The movie’s over at that point! So you can see why it didn’t work. But we were plotting the points along the way of her tiny, tiny bits of achievement.”

McKenna agreed with the decision to cut the scene and isn’t thrilled that it has become a focal point for fans. “On everything I’ve ever worked on, deleted scenes for me are like, you’re just showing someone your mistakes,” she says. “You’re showing somebody the wadded-up pieces of paper that you threw away.”

That said, there are a few specific outtakes from The Devil Wears Prada that McKenna wouldn’t mind seeing again, were they ever to surface. “When we were doing scenes where Meryl is interrupted in a conversation, like when we find her in the conference room and when we find her arguing with her husband — as you can imagine, I had been following her around on set and saying ‘Can I do anything for you? Can I do anything for you?’” McKenna recalls. “And she said, ‘Well, I wouldn’t mind having B pages of what I’m saying before the conference room scene starts, and what I’m saying after, and what we’re fighting about when Andy walks up the stairs.’ So being the overeager busy-bee that I was, I wrote those. And I don’t know where those are, but somewhere, there are rushes where you hear a scene I wrote of Miranda fighting with her husband.”

As for that viral deleted scene, fans might be interested to know that it could have been a whole lot stranger. In a very early draft of the screenplay found online by Yahoo Movies, Miranda is talking to Elton John when her husband interrupts. (Andy hurriedly distracts the singer by gushing about her love of “Crocodile Rock” and “Tiny Dancer.”)

“I wrote a bunch of celebrity cameos that didn’t happen in that first draft,” McKenna admits. “We were desperate for famous people to be in the movie because it takes place in that world, and nobody wanted to do it. The reason Gisele [Bündchen] is in it is because I was on a flight with Gisele and the flight was delayed and I texted David and he said, ‘Go over and tell her you’ll write a part for her, anything she wants.’”

“And Valentino [Garavani, who makes a cameo], the producer Wendy Finerman cornered him at a party the night before we shot and said, ‘Hey, how would you like to be in our movie tomorrow?’” Frankel adds, joking, “We’re still shooting scenes! Any celebrities who want to be in The Devil Wears Prada, we can still slot them in.”

“If Elton John is available, we could meet up at that location,” jokes McKenna. “But even if he’d been in the scene, we would have cut it.”

‘The Devil Wears Prada’: Watch a clip:

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