In honor of the The Princess Diaries turning 15 years old this month (yes, you are getting old), I decided to do some digging on the production of the movie, and found a few unusual tidbits that every Princess Diaries fan really ought to know.
Here are some the lesser-known facts about the greatest (NO I AM NOT EXAGGERATING) makeover movie of our generation:
1. In the original book series, Mia’s Dad isn’t dead at all.
In the film, Mia’s dad has apparently died in a tragic accident, which forces Queen Clarisse to reveal the truth about Mia’s identity. In the book series, written by Meg Cabot, Prince Philippe has gone through a bout of testicular cancer which has rendered him sterile. However, he is very much alive and kicking, and makes frequent appearances throughout the book series. Disney clearly felt the need eliminate the word “testicular” from their G-rated family comedy, and chose to kill off Mia’s dad instead.
2. Anne Hathaway won her role in the movie because of her hair.
Garry Marshall apparently showed Hathaway’s audition tape to his granddaughters, Charlotte and Lily (who appear briefly in the film, asking for Princess Mia’s autograph). The girls agreed that Anne had the best “princess hair,” so the role ultimately went to Hathaway.
3. Mia’s grandmother, (played by Julie Andrews in the film) was originally written as a villain.
In the movie, Julie Andrews is a proper but ultimately benevolent Queen, turning into one of Mia’s inspirations and confidantes. In the books, Queen Clarisse is a chain-smoking Henry Higgins who constantly ridicules Mia and her family (in an admittedly hilarious fashion). She is consistently characterized as a selfish and manipulative person — who occasionally does have her shining moments. Naturally, the role was rewritten to be a more compassionate and maternal figure, as is only fitting for Julie Andrews.
4. Anne Hathaway really did fall on those bleachers.
During her talk with Lily, Mia totally eats it while pacing up and down on some soggy bleachers. The timing is totally perfect and hilarious — and it was completely unplanned. Anne Hathaway actually fell right on her butt, and Garry Marshall thought the take was so great that he used it in the final cut of the film.
5. Zack from Gilmore Girls is Lana’s dance partner at the Beach Bash.
This isn’t really mind-blowing, just a fun little cameo. Todd Lowe was featured for just a few moments in the film, one year before he would go on to play Zack Van Gerbig in Gilmore Girls. He plays Lana’s unnamed date, whom she is presumably using to make Josh jealous.
6. That scene with the ice cream was almost an exact remake of a similar scene in Garry Marshall’s earlier film, Pretty Woman.
There’s really nothing subtle about this nod to Marshall’s earlier film — the same waiter even delivers the same line to Anne Hathaway/Julia Roberts when she makes a gaffe at a fancy social function: “It happens all the time.”
You really have to admire Garry Marshall for creating an homage to himself within his own movie.
7. That speech-impairing retainer really did belong to Anne Hathaway.
The funny delivery of Mia’s “Just in case I’m not enough of a freak already, let’s add a tiara!” was due, in large part, to her retainer. When Hathaway demonstrated how silly she sounded while wearing her own retainer, Marshall immediately insisted that the bit be included in the film.
8. Michael Moscovitz (Mia’s love interest) is played by Jason Schwartzman’s brother, Robert.
Robert Schwartzman is not only Mia’s royal wedding date, he’s also the frontman for the band Rooney, as well as the brother of Jason Schwartzman. The two actually have a fairly famous family — their mom is Talia Shire (of Rocky fame), their cousin is Nicholas Cage, and their uncle is Francis Ford Coppola.
9. Whitney Houston produced the movie.
As if there weren’t enough reasons to love Whitney already. She also produced the sequel, Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, and the Disney Channel original movie, The Cheetah Girls.
10. The series was originally set in New York City.
Mia Thermopolis lives with her mom in lower Manhattan, but the film locale was changed to San Francisco (for reasons unknown, which probably have something to do with tax breaks, WHO KNOWS).
11. One of the Fat Louie cats really did belong to Anne Hathaway.
Fat Louie was played by four different cats throughout the course of the film (each one with different skills), one of which belonged to Anne Hathaway herself. No word on whether or not the cat developed a complex from being called “Fat” repeatedly.
12. Hathaway’s real-life dad portrays Mia’s deceased father in the film.
In the movie, the framed photo of Mia’s late dad is actually a photo of Anne Hathaway’s father, Gerald. During a flashback sequence, Gerald actually portrays Mia’s father onscreen, writing a note to his daughter. The choice was a bit strange, since Hathaway’s father is a lawyer rather than an actor — but it ended up translating well on film, so who cares?
13. Anne Hathaway was actually told to gain weight for the role.
According to audio commentary on the DVD’s special features (yes I watched them, do not judge me), Hathaway was advised by Marshall to gain a bit of weight for her role as Princess Mia. Marshall apparently wanted Hathaway to serve as a positive role model for other young girls who would be watching the movie. Which is one of those Hollywood facts that sort of renews your faith in everything, isn’t it?