It was an adaptation of a popular novel by Lauren Weisberger, it had mega-star Maryl Streep, but I don't think anyone could have predicted how impactful the movie version would be. It was, of course, all on the page.
Today we're going to take a look at the Devil Wears Prada script, talk about characters, quotes, and dig into what makes this adaptation great!
Let's talk about The Devil Wears Prada Script
First things first, we want to thank Aline Brosh McKenna for posting her shooting script online. It's amazing to have access to these materials, especially for screenwriters living across the world who do not have access to the WGA library.
So how did this script come to be?
Brosh McKenna was first hired to write the screenplay and then actors were attached. In an interview with Thrillest, Brosh McKenna describes some of her early meetings with Meryl Streep.
"In the very first meeting that I had with Meryl, one of the lines she told me she really liked was, 'By all means move at glacial pace, you know it thrills me...' I remembered that she liked that very dry [material]. I definitely had her voice and her sensibility in my head when I was writing that stuff."
We know actors and actresses love sinking their teeth into this type of character, but they also relish the chance to come in early and help make it their own.
That said, you won't have much time to sway an actor or actress to the project. Most execs and talent will give the first ten pages a read, If they love it, they keep reading. If they don't, it's a pass.
What can you do with this information?
Well, why don't we look at the first ten pages of the screenplay for The Devil Wears Prada, as Lessons with the Screenplay does, and talk about what hooks people right away?
The First Pages of The Devil Wears Prada Script
We learned in our Acquisitions Expert article that your first 10 pages are vital. They set up the world, the characters, and determine whether or not anyone will keep reading. One of the best things this particular script does is it pulls you into the story right away. How?
Introductions through comparison set up the character arc. It's not that Andy is doing anything wrong in the opening scene, it's that she's not doing anything the way a professional in her industry might do it. And that has to do with her arc throughout the movie.
She's gaining confidence, knowledge, and general wisdom, especially about florals.
We also get all the other characters within the first ten pages. We meet Emily, a tour guide to the world, and this cleverly gets exposition across, and by page five we meet the antagonist.
The Devil Wears Prada Script Antagonist
I think we can all agree that Miranda Priestly is a great modern screen villain. She reminds everyone of their scariest boss, or what they imagine their scariest boss would be like. She serves the story but she is also an archetype. Let's take a look at her character introduction. She comes into the world of the story with hurricane force. We know her legend before we know her.
This builds up anticipation and offers the audience a whirlwind for the rest of the movie.
We now need to know if Andy will survive this world!
This start is a laser beam of storytelling. Not only is it structurally sound, but it primes the reader to go farther into the plot.
In that same interview with Thrillest, Brosh McKenna describes how fun it is writing an antagonist like Miranda.
"I would love to just write Miranda walking around all day and, like, ordering coffee and talking to people," McKenna says. "It's just so fun to write somebody who -- as we say now, although we did not say then -- gives zero fucks. She is the original gives zero fucks person."
When you're creating an antagonist, it's important to give them a voice and motivation as strong as the protagonist's, if not even stronger.
What this movie does so well aligns the antagonist and protagonist with a similar goal.
Miranda wants the magazine to remain popular and current. This directly aligns with Andy wanting to succeed at work. But to succeed, Andy needs to become more like Miranda and Miranda needs to find a way to tap into her inner Andy.
The give and take not only creates an inventive theme for the movie but it also makes both characters arcs completely intertwined. But basically, we want to keep reading because we want to know what happens next.
Simple as it sounds, that's the key to a great script.
What next? Read the If Beale Street Could Talk script!
Liked this screenplay and want to read another? The "If Beale Street Could Talk" screenplay PDF opens us up to Barry Jenkins' interpretation of a James Baldwin classic. How did he do it?
Click the link to learn more!