Rachel McAdams Repeatedly Turned Down Anne Hathaway's Role in 'The Devil Wears Prada'

Rachel McAdams was the first choice for the lead in The Devil Wears Prada—but she turned down the role three times, and it ultimately went to Anne Hathaway.

rachel mcadams
(Image credit: Brian de Rivera Simon)
  • Rachel McAdams was the first choice for the lead in The Devil Wears Prada—but she turned down the role three times.
  • Director David Frankel reflected on the casting process in Entertainment Weekly's oral history of the movie.
  • Lead Anne Hathaway said she "ran screaming through [her] apartment" when she ultimately won the role.

Try not to dwell on the truly chilling fact that it's been 15 years since the release of The Devil Wears Prada, and instead enjoy an interesting tidbit from Entertainment Weekly's oral history of the movie. While it's difficult to imagine anyone but Anne Hathaway in the leading role of Andy Sachs, it turns out she was far from the studio's first choice. In fact, Fox 2000 initially wanted Rachel McAdams for the lead—but she repeatedly turned it down.

"We offered it to Rachel McAdams three times. The studio was determined to have her, and she was determined not to do it," director David Frankel shared. According to Variety's 2016 oral history of the movie, McAdams was looking to play more low-key roles after the global success of The Notebook and Mean Girls.

Also considered for the part? Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Kirsten Dunst, and Kate Hudson. Hathaway was determined to secure the role, however. "It spoke to me. It made me feel. It was about a subject that I take very seriously, but in such a wonderfully joyful and lighthearted way," she said. The studio's reluctance resulted from her "then teen-oriented filmography," according to Entertainment Weekly.

new york june 19 actress anne hathaway attends the 20th century fox premiere of the devil wears prada at the loews lincoln center theatre on june 19, 2006 in new york city photo by evan agostinigetty images

(Image credit: Evan Agostini)

Former Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler recalled Hathaway's efforts to win the part. "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," Gabler said. "Annie never gave up. She never stopped campaigning, calling, she came into [Fox executive] Carla Hacken's office and wrote in her zen garden, 'Hire me.'"

Ultimately, Meryl Streep played a crucial role in Hathaway's casting. "Meryl was eager to make the movie, and she said, 'Let me meet with her,'" Frankel said. "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 her and called up Tom Rothman at Fox and said, 'Yeah, this girl's great, and I think we'll work well together.'"

The news, unsurprisingly, delighted Hathaway. "I patiently waited until it was my turn, and I got the call. It was the easiest yes in the world," she said. "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!'"

Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.