Meryl Streep Went Full Method For One Of The Devil Wears Prada's Most Intense Scenes

If someone were to describe "The Devil Wears Prada" to you before the book was written or the movie was released, do you think you could see it as an ongoing cultural touchstone? The movie basically boils down to cute fashion montages, a mean boss, and a whatever boyfriend, but it's a combination of fantasy and relatability cut with a health splash of acid straight from Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly that makes the movie work so well. It's not necessarily telling a new story, but it's told it in such a vibrant way that we're still using Stanley Tucci gifs more than a decade later. It's got staying power and you can't deny it.

And so much of that staying power comes from Streep's bad-to-the-bone acting. "The Devil Wears Prada" might be full of characters, from the naive Andy (Anne Hathaway) to the snobby Emily (Emily Blunt) and all the other colorful folks at the magazine, but no one stands out like Streep, who imbues every scene with an icy haughtiness that no one else can touch. She feels like a mean boss shipped directly from the mean boss plant, the kind of person that has nothing else behind her eyes. In a way, it's almost otherworldly.

In an interview with Insider, director David Frankel shed some light on how Streep got to that place while filming "Prada," and it turns out there was a little bit of method acting involved:

"She definitely kept her distance ... She was very aloof and they were properly intimidated by that. It meant that they were always super prepared and always apologetic just to her as an actress, and that definitely fed all of their performances. She was able to properly condescend to them."

Miranda forever

Obviously no one should be super intimidated by their coworkers — that sounds very stressful — but I'm delighted by the scene that quote creates in my mind. Imagine being so aloof and confident that all of your coworkers are nervous around you both on and off the set; now that's power, baby. It might not be good power, but you can't deny that it's impressive.

And yet, every strong character has their weak moment, and so does Miranda. After learning that her husband is going to divorce her and fearing the stories that would inevitably turn into headlines, an exhausted and sad looking Miranda drops the facade for a brief monologue about how lonely it is at the top, before she slides the mask over her face and transitions back into robot mode. According to Frankel, that scene was all Streep:

"We were shooting at the St. Regis Hotel in New York and they said, 'Meryl's ready,' ... And I got in one elevator and we got off the elevator about the same time in the hall and there she was. And I saw her and I was shocked. I was in shock as the audience is when they first see her like that ... In a moment, you get it, what she was going for and she did it beautifully."

She really did. You can't deny the call of Streep's Miranda, the meanest boss in cinema that still haunts our minds.