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Oral History of ‘The Princess Diaries’ for Its 20th Anniversary

It’s 2001, and tween you is devouring this masterpiece for the primary time. You’re considering the deserves of a foot-popping kiss and likewise asking your self, Do I want one of THOSE backpacks that, if I hock it, might feed a complete nation? Based mostly on Meg Cabot’s pleasant guide, The Princess Diaries launched these deep ideas and rather more: a future Oscar winner, the epic-est of makeover moments, and one Mandy Moore tune that impressed 1000’s of friend-group dances. The film, which follows common San Francisco excessive schooler Mia Thermopolis (performed by Anne Hathaway) as she learns she’s really royalty, was surprisingly empowering too. Its complete level is that a mean lady can go from “I can’t be a princess — I’m nonetheless ready for regular physique components to reach!” to discovering she has the grit and character to steer a nation. For its 20th anniversary, we’re looking again on the movie’s (equally superior, extremely candy) behind-the-scenes story, with assist from these consultants:

Debra Martin Chase, one of the film’s producers
Meg Cabot, the writer of the unique guide Donna Morong, who labored on the casting for Disney Mayne Berke, manufacturing designer for the film Hector Elizondo, aka your favourite safety guard and limo driver, JosephCaroline Goodall, higher referred to as the good film mother ever , Helen Sandra Oh, or as TikTok now is aware of her, Principal Gupta Anne Hathaway, who introduced Mia Thermopolis to life

After Meg Cabot gave her agent the Princess Diaries guide manuscript, they couldn’t get any publishers to chunk (it was rejected, “like, 25, 30 instances,” she says). Then her agent had the concept to as a substitute ship it to Hollywood producers. Whose desk did it fall on? Whitney f * cking Houston’s.

Debra Martin Chase (producer): Whitney and I have been companions in an organization at Disney. Our agent was like, “We acquired this manuscript,” and apparently, it had been turned down by most of the most important homes. I learn the guide that night time and got down to try to get it made.

Meg Cabot (writer): I acquired a name at my desk at NYU, the place I used to be an assistant residence corridor director, and I used to be like, Certain, yeah proper, Whitney Houston goes to provide a film primarily based on my guide that nobody even needs to publish. Shortly after that, we acquired a movie cope with Disney.

stills from the princess diaries

sure, yeah right, whitney houston is going to produce a movie based on my book that no one even wants to publish

Debra: On the time, the overall knowledge of Hollywood was that in the event you made a film for boys, ladies would come, however you couldn’t actually generate profits on a film for ladies. However a pair of years earlier than, Disney had carried out just a little film known as The Mother or father Lure. So that they stated, “Okay, we predict this may very well be a pleasant piece of enterprise for us.”


Garry Marshall signed on to direct, with a résumé that casually included Fairly Girl and Runaway Bride. The highest folks at Disney needed Julie Andrews for Queen Clarisse… if they might get her. And discovering Mia Thermopolis? “Braveness is just not the absence of worry,” however, nicely, you get it. It was going to be a problem.

Debra: Julie had been in semi-retirement for, like, a decade. We gave her the guide, and I spent a beautiful few hours together with her speaking concerning the function. What actually sealed the deal was the truth that Garry Marshall was doing it.

Meg: Debra known as me and stated, “We now have to kill off the daddy out of your guide.” And I stated, “Why?” And she or he stated, “We need to have an even bigger function for the grandmother as a result of we’ve acquired this nice actress that wishes to play her.” And I requested, “Who’s the actress?” “It’s Julie Andrews.” And I used to be like, “Oh my god. Kill him. Kill the dad. ”

Debra: I used to be cleansing out my storage not too long ago and located the grasp checklist of who we auditioned for Mia. Scarlett Johansson was on the checklist, January Jones. We noticed all people.

it was one of those kismet things she comes in, and garry and everyone else fell in love with her

stills from the princess diaries

Donna Morong (casting director): We thought-about Emmy Rossum. Anne Hathaway was not instantly out there, however she was on our radar. And it was one of these kismet issues. She is available in, and Garry and everybody else fell in love together with her.

Anne Hathaway (actor, Mia; in a 2019 Individuals interview): Getting the script, it simply had that feeling. It was electrical. And assembly Garry Marshall… Fairly Girl was my favourite film rising up. I assumed, I get to fulfill the director of that? How extraordinary.

Meg: Debra had known as me to inform me they solid Mandy Moore. I used to be like, “Oh my gosh, she’s gonna be so nice as Mia.” And she or he was like, “No, no, no, she’s not Mia.” However the minute I met Anne, any worry I had was gone.

the princess diaries

As soon as the actors have been assembled, the staff needed to create the rattling factor. To today, folks from the solid and crew say it was one of the best filming expertise they’ve ever had.

Anne (in an on-set interview whereas filming): Assembly Julie — I used to be assembly my idol; I used to be assembly somebody who I’d appeared as much as. And she or he was every little thing I had hoped she could be and extra, as a result of along with being Julie Andrews, she was additionally simply Julie.

Debra: At some point we filmed Julie’s scenes first so she might depart, and Annie was going to do the remaining of the scene with Julie’s stand-in. Julie goes off, and some minutes later she comes again in her gown and slippers with a cup of tea, and she or he’s like, “No, I’m going to learn with Annie. I need her to discover ways to do it proper. ”

Mayne Berke (manufacturing designer): Julie needed to speak to me about all of the units. She stated, “You understand I’m a rose aficionado,” so we designed the rose backyard collectively.


Caroline Goodall (actor, Mia’s mother Helen): All of us had the identical make-up trailer. There’d be Anne, me, Julie, Sandra Oh. Julie would throw out jokes and chat, however she was very large on British protocol. And since I’m English, she’d say, “Darling, they’ve merely no thought about knives and forks. I imply, ought to I inform them? ”

Hector Elizondo (actor, the Queen’s safety guard Joe): Julie could be very supportive of the scenes with Annie and produce up some factors on how they may very well be improved. Julie liked doing that with Annie.

Caroline: Anne was so poised, so ready, and she or he had nice comedian timing. Garry liked her. He known as her a cross between Judy Garland and Groucho Marx.

this girl came up to me recently and said,

stills from the princess dairies

Hector: We have been taking pictures the basketball scene, and since it was slippery out, Annie misplaced her footing on the bleachers and fell. And she or he went with it and completed the scene. That’s Annie. Unflappable Annie.

Caroline: Garry had two joke writers on-set, and he would simply yell over the digital camera and say, “Hey, Anne, say this joke.” And she or he would catch the joke and spin it proper into the center of a dialog that we have been having.

PS YOUR FAVE SCENE WAS KIND OF A LIE: When Garry Marshall and manufacturing designer Mayne Berke got here up with the concept to have Mia and her mother throw darts at paint-filled balloons within the now-famous scene, “we didn’t take a look at it beforehand,” says Mayne. “We figured, what might go flawed?” Besides… the actors couldn’t get the balloons to pop. So the film’s prop grasp stood offscreen and shot the balloons with a BB gun.

The completed product was, unsurprisingly to the individuals who have been quoting it for the previous 20 years and purchased their first set of eyebrow tweezers within the wake of it, an enormous hit. There was a sequel and, at one level, discuss of a 3rd.

Meg: Debra and I made a decision to see the film earlier than the official premiere, however each theater we went to was bought out. We lastly acquired in, however each seat was full and we needed to stand within the aisle. We acquired kicked out of our personal film. On the precise premiere, Anne got here as much as me and she or he was like, “Do you suppose I did job?” I stated, “You probably did an incredible job.” And she or he began to cry. Little tears welled up in her eyes. She had no thought what a star she was and was going to be.


Debra: Opening weekend, I used to be a nervous wreck. The cellphone rang Saturday morning, and it was my studio government, and she or he stated, “Honey, your little film is a large hit. We’re gonna make $ 100 million. ” I’ll at all times do not forget that.

The Princess Diaries went on to make greater than $ 165 million worldwide and launch Anne Hathaway’s profession. Sandra Oh’s Principal Gupta scenes are nonetheless so iconic that persons are recreating them on TikTok with their cats.

Sandra Oh (actor, Principal Gupta, on Late Evening With Seth Meyers in 2020): Somebody despatched these TikToks to me and I couldn’t imagine it. It’s friggin ‘hilarious. I actually get pleasure from how folks benefit from the film.

Caroline: This lady got here as much as me not too long ago and stated, “The Princess Diaries is my hangover treatment. I am going out on a Friday night time, after which if I’m feeling tough the following morning, I put it on and I sit in mattress. ” I’m simply so glad that when folks cease me on the street, they are saying I’m their hangover treatment.

Anne (in a 2020 ABC particular): I had no thought what I used to be doing, and Garry actually crafted that efficiency to be one of the best it presumably may very well be. The Princess Diaries modified my life.

Donna: It’s an actual phenomenon — and it took years to actually perceive the influence it has on tradition. Individuals nonetheless ask me right this moment, “What was it like engaged on Princess Diaries?”


An earlier model of this story talked about that Kate Hudson was initially thought-about for the function of Mia, however the supply of that quote has reached out to make clear that she misspoke, and Hudson was not really thought-about for that function.

Emma Baty Emma Baty is the Affiliate Leisure Editor at Cosmopolitan who focuses on films and TV.

About the author

Donna Miller

Donna is one of the oldest contributors of Gruntstuff and she has a unique perspective with regards to Science which makes her write news from the Science field. She aims to empower the readers with the delivery of apt factual analysis of various news pieces from Science. Donna has 3.5 years of experience in news-based content creation, and she is now an expert at it. She loves journalism, and that is the reason, she moved from a web content writer to a News writer, and she is loving it. She is a fun-loving woman who has very good connections with every team member. She makes the working environment cheerful which improves the team’s work productivity.

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