Adrian Grenier reflects on whether Nate is the ‘real villain’ in The Devil Wears Prada

nate devil wears prada grenier

Entertainment Weekly has some great articles to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the release of The Devil Wears Prada. An iconic film, and one which many people will rewatch whenever it’s on TV. It’s beloved by men as well – a number of gay and straight men are obsessed with TDWP, including Emily Blunt’s husband and Ludacris. Anyway, EW did an “oral history” of the movie, which you can read here. They interviewed everyone involved, including Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and… Adrian Grenier, who plays Andy’s suck-baby boyfriend Nate. As EW notes, in the fifteen years since the film’s release, there’s now a consensus that Nate was a giant baby and Andy should have dumped him. Some even call Nate “the real villain” of TDWP. So what does Adrian think about that?

Adrian on Nate: “I didn’t see some of the subtleties and the nuance of this character and what it represented in the film until the wisdom of the masses came online and started to push against the character and throw him under the bus, and I got flak.”

It didn’t occur to him at the time that Nate shouldn’t have pouted about Andy missing his birthday: “All those memes that came out were shocking to me. It hadn’t occurred to me until I started to really think about it, and perhaps it was because I was as immature as Nate was at the time, and in many ways he’s very selfish and self-involved, it was all about him, he wasn’t extending himself to support Andy in her career. At the end of the day, it’s just a birthday, right? It’s not the end of the world. I might’ve been as immature as him at the time, so I personally couldn’t see his shortcomings. But after time to reflect and much deliberation, I’ve come to realize the truth in that perspective.”

Anne Hathaway is more sympathetic to Nate: She joked that perhaps audiences aren’t being “completely honest with themselves” when ripping his wounded tone. “Nate was pouty on his birthday because his girlfriend wasn’t there! In hindsight, I’m sure he wishes he made a different choice, but who doesn’t? We’ve all been brats at different points. We all just need to live, let live, do better!”

Adrian says he now savors the criticism of the fictional character: While the backlash intimidated Grenier at first, he now savors it as part of the job, and says he’s removed himself enough from the role, personally, that he’s able to engage with the criticism with an open heart and a clear mind. “[Andy] needed more out of the world than Nate, and she was achieving it. He couldn’t support her like she needed to because he was a fragile, wounded boy. There’s a selfishness and self-centeredness in that, and I think Andy needed to be held by a man who was an adult. He couldn’t support her like she needed because he was a fragile, wounded boy…. on behalf of all the Nates out there: Come on! Step it up!”

[From EW]

The writer/adapter of the film points out that Nate is supposed to play the typical “girlfriend” role in films, and he’s supposed to be reminding Andy of her moral center. I get that and I think that’s clear in the movie. But I also think that Andy’s high-achieving ways intimidated Nate and he basically negged her until she gave up her upward-mobility for him. I also love the fact that Grenier has strong feelings about it and he’s spent 15 years reflecting on how his character sucked and wasn’t supportive enough.


Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.

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54 Responses to “Adrian Grenier reflects on whether Nate is the ‘real villain’ in The Devil Wears Prada”

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  1. Maria says:

    He sounds nice. After all the character did suck but it was just a character not him per se. but his answers are decent. I am surprised seeing such insight from an actor who was on Entourage, lol.

  2. kgeo says:

    Didn’t she hate that job though? As someone that knew her in and out, he was just acting like that person. She had to see for herself that if she opened herself up, there was more to be found. I don’t think that is another person’s job. I can’t remember how it ended though. Did he still support her when she started embracing the job more?

    • Mac says:

      I did something similar early in my career. Worked for a monster for a year and that experience opened up opportunities that would have been totally out of reach without her referral. I was lucky because my husband and friends completely supported me because they knew how I would benefit from the experience.

    • minx says:

      I love DWP, have seen it countless times, but now I fast forward through the scenes that aren’t about Andi’s job. Nate was boring, her woman friend (can’t even remember her name) was judgmental and snippy. Rich Somer’s character was a bit more pleasant but he added nothing.

  3. Snuffles says:

    Nate wasn’t a villain. But definitely whiny and unsupportive. His complaints were less about worrying about how the job was affecting Andy but more about how it was affecting HIM.

  4. Sara says:

    Andy’s friends are a-holes to her multiple times in that story. Thinking of when Miranda is calling her and they play keep away with her phone – that was just mean. And then they’re all shocked that she was upset with them for doing that. Oh and that was right after she gave them expensive swag from Vogue out of thoughtfulness. Wtf.

    • Snuffles says:

      Yes!!! I was just thinking about that scene! All of her friends were dicks.

    • Renee says:

      Same! That scene bugs the hell out of me. She gives these great free swag gifts and then they piss her off by keeping her phone from her. They were total jerks!

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      Yep that scene bugged me because it highlights how often the work do women do is seen as not serious or valuable. Would those same people have done that to a male friend, would they have endangered his job by messing about? Too often women’s work is seen as something they do in between taking care of the home and their families needs.

      In real life all I see are women who have to take holiday days from work when their kids are sick off school or childcare didn’t work out for some reason, in my circle I have never know a father take time from work for childcare emergencies, no matter if he or his partner are the higher earner, it’s always delegated to a woman, I even know women who have provided end of life care for their own parent and then be expected to do it for the parent in-laws too. In one memorable case a friend got a call from her ex-husband (divorced years at this point, no children together) and told her she had a moral duty to care for his dying father, as he was busy at work. She hung up on him.

      TLDR version: we need to celebrate and support women’s ambition and see that the work they do provides value to society.

    • Sof says:

      I came here to say the same thing, her friends were really annoying!! Like everyone in the movie, but still, they are meant to be on her side.

  5. Sam the Pink says:

    Except the whole movie is basically about how Nate is right about everything. Miranda IS a conniving, backstabbing snake in the grass who will screw over her most loyal employee to save herself – that’s the whole impetus for Andy to leave! I have never understood the arguments that Miranda is some kind of positive character in any real way – she isn’t. The process Andy goes through is actually akin to what a lot of cult members experience – the breaking you down to slowly build you back up in the image of the abuser, etc. Nate was the outsider who was constantly reminding her of how fucked up it was. I’m amazed there are people who view it differently!

    • Anners says:

      It’s been a while, but I remember watching the film when it came out and being disappointed that the friend story line had changed considerably from the book. Nate was always a bit of a selfish prick, but Andy’s friends and family were seriously concerned for her mental well being. She was overwhelmed, overworked, stressed out, and deeply unhappy. When her family and friends tried to point out how much the job had changed her and made her miserable, she didn’t want to see it – she’d already put so much in and 1 year at the magazine would set her up to be a journalist elsewhere (or that was the plan). At the end of the book she realizes how much she has changed and how much she dislikes those changes and chooses her friends over her career. She doesn’t get back with Nate, though (he was whiny and selfish in both iterations). I thought the book did a better job of giving voice to her friends/family’s very real concerns.

      • Snuffles says:

        I didn’t read the book but in the movie I thought Andy’s father came over the best when expressing his concern. Nate and her friends bugged me.

      • Emmitt says:

        I guess I see Nate and the friends as more of a villain than Miranda because Miranda was upfront with her nastiness. Nate and the friends enjoyed the benefits of Andy’s hard work while disparaging what Andy did to get those benefits. Don’t dis my job but decide to enjoy the fancy gifts I got from my job.

        Andy had 2 choices: sit around and wait like Nigel and Emily or create her own opportunities like Miranda. She didn’t need to be nasty like Miranda but she didn’t need to sit around and wait like Nigel and Emily either. Andy in the end chose to create her own opportunities by quitting Runway and going for the job she really wanted.

        It wasn’t Miranda’s fault Nigel sat around for 18 years waiting for her to give him an opportunity.

      • Becks1 says:

        Yes, I thought the movie almost over-glamorized her job so the friends reaction seemed over the top. In the book the job is doing serious harm to her mental and physical health (she’s not sleeping, not eating, super stressed out, etc.) The book is a fun read but it also has some serious undertones to it. I haven’t read it in years but I remember the first time I saw the movie thinking that they mishandled the friends storyline in a big way.

      • candy says:

        I didn’t read the book, but in some ways it’s good that her situation wasn’t sugar coated. Entry-level opportunities at major firms in fashion, politics, wall street, law, and entertainment are cut throat and yes, you will be putting in 10-15 hour days with abusive bosses in environments where everyone is incredibly stressed.

    • Snuffles says:

      “ Nate was the outsider who was constantly reminding her of how fucked up it was. I’m amazed there are people who view it differently!”

      Can you point out a scene where he did that? Because from where I’m sitting the majority of his complaints were centered around him.

      And I personally don’t think Miranda is a saint. But I do think she was good at her job and if she was a man behaving the same way it would have been painted as admirable.

      No one was perfect or held the moral highground in that film. Even Andy. She had a rude, dismissive attitude about the magazine and fashion industry. When Miranda have her a dressing down after she snorted in derision over the belt discussion, I felt she deserved it. And Emily was right when she said Andy wasn’t suited for the job.

      All of the characters were complex and well written. That’s why I loved the film.

      • Sam the Pink says:

        He correctly points out what happened at the end of the whole film – Andy recognizes that she compromised on all her values, and for what, and he answers, “shoes, and clothes.” He sees the whole thing correctly.

        And just me, but I really, really, really HATE your argument about Miranda being “good at her job.” You can be great at your job without tormenting your underlings, backstabbing your most loyal employee, etc. Miranda was a snake. And spare me the “if she were a man.” That is that toxic, GirlBoss feminism that shouldn’t have any place in the world. A man doing these things would be just as bad. I really don’t get how you see Miranda as anything but awful, especially given how the ending of the film basically shows Andy realizing how awful Miranda is and literally running away from her.

      • Emmitt says:

        1. Miranda did not have to belittle her workers but Miranda expected excellence from her assistants because a misstep/laziness on their part would make her look bad, which jeopardizes her job. Most of her assistants were there for the shoes and the clothes, so shoes & clothes performance is what she got.

        Andy was not there for the shoes or the clothes. Andy proved herself to be very resourceful and intuitive. That’s a quality many managers want in their assistants and it’s qualities that will help Andy in the future no matter what job she has.

        Andy didn’t have a problem with Miranda moving the chess pieces around with the James Holt/Jacqueline Follet situation until she saw how Miranda manuevered everyone around except Nigel to keep her place on the board.

        Andy only ran away from Miranda because everything Miranda said about her was true: Andy had no problem doing what she needed to do and sidestepping Emily in order to get ahead.

        As far as Nigel is concerned, it’s not Miranda or anyone else’s fault that Nigel sat at Runway for 18 years wishing and hoping for a chance. He knows Miranda or the Runway company will never promote him to be more than what he is now, so he outwardly hopes for another chance and and inwardly seethes because that way he doesn’t have to take responsibility for the fact he sat at Runway for 18 years hoping someone would give him a chance, instead of making his own chances.

      • Sam the Pink says:

        You are really reaching here. 1.) There is a marked difference between “expecting excellence” from your employees and Miranda. Miranda literally threatened Andy’s job because Andy could not get her a flight home during a hurricane. That is not high standards, that is sociopathic self-regard. The film even basically plays this up! The film basically emphasizes that Miranda’s standards are so high as to be impossible for any human to reach.

        2.) No, the film makes clear that Andy has real care for Nigel because Nigel is basically the only person in the company who shows actual concern for her and tries to help her. Also, Nigel makes clear that he stays at Runway because he loves the magazine, not because of Miranda directly. Did you forget that whole speech in the workroom where he talks about how he loved the magazine as a little boy (long before Miranda would have taken over)? The other facet to why the Nigel betrayal is so bad is because she’s a hypocrite about it – she notes how many people in the fashion industry are loyal to her, and she exploits that to keep her Runway job, but she returns no loyalty to Nigel. She looks awful in that situation.

    • Mel says:

      He was right but the way he went about it was NOT cool. The job was hard enough for her without him being all judgey and whiny about it. If she has to work late, she works late, she was using the job as a ladder. He was a starting chef, if he got a job working for the best chef in the city who happened to be a horrible person, how do you think it would have gone if she shamed him about caring about his work and complained about him taking opportunities instead of being with her.

    • Haylie says:

      Miranda is not a hero, and I still laugh at the “stuff” speech, but Miranda is exactly the type you may cross paths with while paying dues in the professional world. Andy wasn’t becoming like her, she was thriving in a difficult situation in spite of her. And I was damn lucky she wasn’t blacklisted in journalism after bailing out in Paris. Andy did some much needed growing up, but her friends were lagging behind, judge mental and unsupportive.

      She only needed to complete one year to basically be able to go and do anything in the journalism world, and her stupid boyfriend couldn’t deal because she started taking her professional reputation seriously and missed his birthday (imagine a grown ass man whining about a missed birthday dinner).

      I’m gonna go ahead and guess he would’ve expected her to ditch her job and follow him to Boston if they had been together still.

      • Sam the Pink says:

        No, I don’t see it that way. Miranda is a god awful human being in basically every regard. She abuses her staff, expects loyalty from others while not returning it (Nigel), etc. She’s a terrible excuse for a human, let alone a boss. And the end IS about how Andy is scared to become like Miranda – what else is the whole speech in the car? Andy says, straight out, “I can’t be like you” in a derisive way after Miranda betrays Nigel, and Miranda points out that Andy betrayed Emily (even though Miranda basically coerced her into doing so). And the scene ends with Andy literally running away from her to save herself from turning into Miranda. I get that the scene is shot in way that makes it seem almost uplifting, but boy is it dark.

        And at the end, Nate points out the real issue – it wasn’t honoring professional commitments, although he also pointed out that no job should force you to sacrifice your whole life for it. His issue was that Andy sold out her values and ethics, which he says at the end (and she actually agrees with him).

  6. Lala11_7 says:

    I kept waiting on Nate to have a SERIOUS convo with Andi about busting her ass 24/7 while she wasn’t making enough to pay her share of the rent…now THAT was a real issue…what was portrayed in the film woulda had me single after that incident in the restaurant with Nate & her friends…I would have broke up with the friends too…


    Nate AND Andi’s friends were all trash. Instead of supporting their friend doing something incredibly hard for ONE YEAR out of her life so that, at the end of that year, she could achieve her career goals more or less straight out of college, they fecked and moaned because she was busy. They criticized her and messed with her livelihood. No thanks.

  8. Emmitt says:

    Nate had every right to be upset that Andy missed his birthday.

    What upset me about Nate and the rest of Andy’s friends is they resented her dedication to her job even as they reaped the benefits of her job (designer goods & gifts).

    They also were trying to advance themselves on their jobs while resenting Andy for advancing herself on HER job.

    In the end, Nate took the job in Boston to advance himself and left Andy behind in NYC. I don’t think it really mattered if Andy was working for Miranda Priestly/Runway or not, if Andy had been working at Starbucks and pulled a lot of overtime Nate would’ve been pissed off.

  9. Normades says:

    He seems like an OK guy who is actually quite thoughtful and smart. I always thought he was miscast in Entourage since his character was basically Mark Walburg.

  10. ThatgirlThere says:

    I watched the Devil Wear Prada this weekend and I don’t completely agree with Nate being the real villain. He was definetly a whiner but lets not forget that all Andi did was whine about her job and complain about how horrible her boss and co-workers were. She mocked the other women who worked at Runway with Nate constantly. So him responding to her complaints with “well what are you gonna do about it?” isn’t that big of a deal for me.

    He was still a pouty baby in some parts and her friends except for the other guy were immature.

  11. helonearth says:

    I always thought it bizarre that Nate complained about the hours Andy worked. Up and coming chefs work insane hours and often have to put up with abuse from their higher uppers, and its usually a struggle for them to see anyone outside of work.

    I thought the writers screwed up there, and should have had her boyfriend doing a different job. I read the book, but don’t remember the boyfriend at all (it was a long time ago).

    • ThatgirlThere says:

      In the book the boyfriend was a school teacher.

      • Normades says:

        Yea, that would have made more sense. Chefing is hard, high speed and the restaurant business is cut throat. Having him be a school teacher is more of a juxtaposition

      • Juniper says:

        That totally would’ve made more sense. If anything, Nate would never have been home to complain about his birthday. There is NO WAY he’d be home at night waiting to make Andi expensive grilled cheese sandwiches.

  12. Sofia says:

    I haven’t watched it for a hot minute but I don’t think it’s as simple as saying “Nate was the villain”. Yes it does seem like he resented her success but the job was changing Andy at her core which was probably what his and her friends issue was.

  13. Amelie says:

    Nate was totally in the right when Andy missed his birthday. From the way I remember, they made plans for his birthday but then Andy forgot because she was at some fashion event and then rushed home with that sad cupcake. She didn’t text or call Nate to let him know she would be late, she plain forgot about his birthday. So I don’t see Nate being self-centered there. He was right to be upset that his girlfriend completely forgot about their plans together and then didn’t contact him she would be running late.

    • Izzy says:

      I agree about this. Honestly, reverse the genders – a man forgets a woman’s birthday – and we would rake him over the coals. It goes both ways.

      Nate was an unsupportive jerk in many ways, but that was not one of them.

  14. Jess says:

    My 14 yo daughter and I just watched this and the attitude of both the boyfriend and the friends has not aged well.

  15. KinChicago says:

    I remember the movie was so nuanced but I related to Andrea most: Long hours.

  16. Aphra says:

    I always fast forward over the Nate scenes.

  17. Lauren says:

    Andy’s friends were more problematic than Nate. Girl should have dumped the lot of them.

  18. ce says:

    The first time I saw the movie I was in my early 20s and identified with Andie, and thought she was being a jerk to her boyfriend. The most recent time I was in my 30s and identified more with Miranda, thought Andie was a pouty whiner until she toughed up halfway through, and hated the boyfriend/was glad she cheated on him. Time changed my perspective A LOT. So I can appreciate Adrien’s growth too

  19. candy says:

    Adrian has taken some questionable roles over the years, is he typecast? Or is he just a douche? I haven’t followed him, but I always found it odd that discussions of this film gloss over her terrible boyfriend and the totally anticlimactic ending. This probably wouldn’t be the ending of choice today. Also, negged! I love you Kaiser.

  20. Ann says:

    Hmmm. I watched the movie as an adult who had worked for a semi-abusive female boss. If I had forgotten my BF’s birthday because I was overwhelmed at work, I think he would have forgiven me, and been sympathetic, because he knew what work was like too. But that doesn’t mean Andie’s work environment was healthy.

    It’s not like Miranda just made Andie work crazy hours at her actual job, like learning the fashion industry, doing what needed to be done for the magazine, shoots, etc. That would have been acceptable, tough but acceptable and necessary. No, she also made her do insane personal errands like find copies of the next Harry Potter book in advance of publication so her spoiled kids could read them! She was an abusive boss with unreasonable expectations who overstepped her boundaries.

    Nate was right about that, anyway. And he didn’t act like his job was more important than hers. He made light of it a little, saying “I make port wine reduction sauce.” Being a chef is very strenuous too, but Andie had started taking her job so seriously that she had lost herself and perspective.

    I don’t see him as a villain. Pouty maybe, and maybe not worth keeping, but hardly a villain.

    • candy says:

      Abuse is never ok. But running a few errands for a high-profile female boss isn’t unusual in the world of VIP employers. Personally, I would advise other women that if it’s looped into your supporting role, especially at the entry level where perhaps you don’t have a lot of other skills yet, roll with it. You’re in the ring. Work there 2 to 3 years, leave with a good recommendation. You won’t be doing coffee runs when you get promoted.

      Andie had a huge opportunity and her boyfriend did not support her, consistently. He put her down for her ambition, big no no. He couldn’t deal with what, 6 months of her “taking her job seriously?” Is she supposed to not take her job seriously and get fired? I had to take a job in another city when I was first dating my boyfriend. He 100% supported me because it was a huge promotion. He visited me every weekend and never once complained. I was busy from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., no lunch sometimes, and I didn’t feel that it hurt our relationship.

    • L84Tea says:

      I once worked for a pretty abusive female boss. She was an emotional terrorist who played weird head games with all of the employees. After 3 years I couldn’t take it anymore and got out of there. I haven’t worked for her or even seen her in 16 years and I still have occasional nightmares about her.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      I’m with you Ann. In the movie (didn’t read the book), Nate may have seemed to come off pouty at times, but so did she. He seemed to support what she needed to do until she herself became someone she loathed in the beginning of the movie. The character of Nate was the one stabilizing force to remind her of who she is or who she said she was and not what she’s expected to be. Her character expressed this a number of times at the start. When she blew off/forgot Nate’s birthday to spend time with The Mentalist(don’t remember the actor/character’s name, just that he played The Mentalist), it would be hurtful to anyone of us-without a phone call even if we were told a lie. No one likes their significant other to forget a birthday. I’m tempted to read the book now to see the differences. At the end of the movie, my impression was they had the chance to get back together which I liked. Loving the movie & perception conversation. Also happy to read (don’t remember who said it) that AG is a decent guy. One of my nephews looks a lot like him and he is a very good sort.

  21. Coffeeisgood says:

    So in the book she doesn’t get back together with him which I liked. But she also tells Miranda “fuck you” and quits on the spot so I think the movie ending where she quietly just leaves was a lot more satisfying.

  22. L84Tea says:

    I’ve never been a huge fan of this movie, with the exception of all the scenes with Emily Blunt. I love her with every fiber of my being in that movie!

    Side note, a cousin of mine in NJ is a drummer in a band and knows Adrian Grenier really well. Apparently he’s a good guy.

  23. Isabella Saxon says:

    Adam was the star of Entourage so hard to believe he’d be good at spotting sexism. I enjoyed parts of that show, but it is so dated.

  24. The Recluse says:

    “But I also think that Andy’s high-achieving ways intimidated Nate and he basically negged her until she gave up her upward-mobility for him.”
    I got the impression that she gave up the job because she wanted to have a life again and to regain her center as a moral and functioning human being. He had taken a job in another state by then and it didn’t seem certain that their relationship wouldn’t become anything but friendship in the future.
    Anyway, pretty much everyone except for Tucci’s character and Andie’s dad were either villains or less than supportive.
    I wouldn’t have lasted more than a couple of months working for Miranda Priestly because life is too short for such foolishness…and this is after having dealt with a supervisor back in the 90’s who literally praised me one day for being so super organized and doing the job well and then the next day, when I was utterly stressed out and physically overworked, criticizing me for goofing off on the job and so forth. I lost all respect for her after that and wound up leaving the job because I had suffered an on the job injury and decided to bail.

  25. Justwastingtime says:

    My husband and I and our 22 yo (boy) and 12 yo (girl) are all huge fans of the movie… we had a raging debate about how bad a boyfriend he was last week.

  26. K.T says:

    I’d never expect Devil Wears Prada to become a the new litmus test for our changing social mores but here we are! Skimmed the book & movie when I was young but now after hearing that Miranda was based on Anna Winter, Scott Rudin & other sociopathic bosses, it really cemented the view that being psychologically tortured by an authority is worth it because their ‘genius’ or ability to be an ‘entryway to success’ is part if our systemic brainwashing.

    People have committted suicide or dropped out of careers becuae of bosses like this, I imagine if we could have harnessed their creative & drive rather than bolstered tired hierarchies, we would have better art and projects. And this all ties in with the recent spate of articles from Rudin’s former assistants and the film ‘The Assistant’

  27. Bread and Circuses says:

    The movie was not the book (in fact, the best parts of the movie were inserted, and soooo much better than the book), but in the book, Nate-the-boyfriend was a very patient angel and Andy was taking advantage of that in such a relentlessly self-centred fashion that she should have been kicked to the curb months before Nate actually did it.

    But yeah, in the movie, Nate was a whiner. 😀