When it came out in 2006, The Devil Wears Prada was a mid-level budgeted movie with a breakthrough cast and an epic performance from Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestley. However, as much as people loved Priestley's complicated life, Andy's changing relationship with fashion, Nigel's ever-reaching dreams and Emily's blunt but likable personality, there's one character that people aren't really into, Andy's boyfriend Nate. Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna knows it, recently explaining exactly why writing that character was really challenging.
That was a 'girlfriend' part, really. That's a part that a lot of women end up playing, the 'why aren't you home more,' the naggy wife. I have to say, that character was the biggest challenge to write, and oddly, the character [director David Frankel] and I talked about the most, because we wanted to make sure he wasn't a pain in the ass, but he is the person who is trying to say, 'Is this who you want to be morally?'
People who have seen The Devil Wears Prada often remember Nate as a character who didn't really appreciate or try to support Andy during her time working for Runway. The character, played by Adrian Grenier in the film, wasn't exactly a meaty role. Although he is close to the top of the chart in terms of the number of scenes he is in and his importance to the main chracter, he's mostly a character meant to provide conflict in Andy's life as she learns that having a fulfilling home life and an intense but satisfying career may not always align perfectly. He's the "naggy wife," as she notes, of The Devil Wears Prada. That's not really a role that people are going to fall in love with, and the screenwriter actually goes so far as to call the role "thankless" later on.
Still, while speaking to EW, Aline Brosh McKenna also said that while she is aware of peoples' feelings toward Nate, she does feel that he is a little more nuanced than the things people remember about him. For example,
I think that now, however many years later, what people focus on is that he's trying to restrict her ambition. But her ambition is going towards something that she doesn't really believe in, so he has a point. The part that makes me giggly when I read is him being upset about his birthday. It's pretty whiny -- but he does say later that it wasn't what he was upset about.
So, Nate may not be great, but according to The Devil Wears Prada screenwriter, he's really not the worst either. So maybe it's OK that they reconciled toward the end? Still, a big part of me really wishes that Andy had just embraced the more selfish parts of her personality, become Miranda Priestley 2.0 and the movie had ended on her and Nigel drinking champagne and poking fun at another new girl's outfit.
Regardless, I guess that whole enlightened ending works too, even if it does mean Nate was still in the picture. The Devil Wears Prada is currently available streaming, and probably somewhere in a $5 dollar bin at Walmart. To find out what's heading into theaters, head here.