The Princess Diaries (film)

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The Princess Diaries
Princess diaries ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGarry Marshall
Produced by
Screenplay byGina Wendkos
Based onThe Princess Diaries
by Meg Cabot
Music byJohn Debney
CinematographyKarl Walter Lindenlaub
Edited byBruce Green
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • August 3, 2001 (2001-08-03)
Running time
115 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$26 million
Box office$165.3 million[2]

The Princess Diaries is a 2001 American teen comedy coming-of-age[3][4] film directed by Garry Marshall. Based on Meg Cabot's 2000 young adult novel of the same name, the film was written by Gina Wendkos and follows Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway), a shy American teenager who learns that she is heir to the throne of a European kingdom. Under the tutelage of her estranged grandmother, the kingdom's reigning queen, Mia must decide whether she wishes to claim the throne she has inherited or abdicate her title permanently. In addition to Hathaway, the film stars Julie Andrews as Clarisse Renaldi, Mia's grandmother, with a supporting cast consisting of Héctor Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo, Mandy Moore, Caroline Goodall and Robert Schwartzman.

Feeling confident about the novel's film potential, Cabot's agent pursued producer Debra Martin Chase about adapting The Princess Diaries into a feature-length film, an idea she pitched to Disney upon reading the book. After obtaining the film rights, Disney originally greenlit the project under the title The Princess of Tribeca, reverting it once its setting was changed from New York to San Francisco. Marshall, who was known for helming romantic comedies, agreed to direct the film because he found its story ideal for family entertainment. Her motion picture debut, Hathaway won the lead role over several established young actresses, while the film commemorated the end of Andrews' semi-retirement and return to Disney films, her first since Mary Poppins (1964); the role of Clarisse was adapted specifically with her in mind.

Released in North America on August 3, 2001, the film was a commercial success, grossing $165.3 million worldwide.[2] The film earned mixed reviews upon release, although Hathaway's performance was universally praised. The film's success is credited with establishing Hathaway as a bankable actress, whose debut has been compared to Julia Roberts' breakthrough performance in Pretty Woman (1990), as well as reviving the film career of Andrews. A sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, was released in August 2004 to similar success. The film's popularity has endured in recent years.


Teenager Mia Thermopolis lives with her artist mother, Helen, and her cat, Fat Louie in a remodeled San Francisco firehouse. A somewhat awkward and unpopular girl, Mia has a fear of public speaking, and often wishes to be "invisible". She has a crush on Josh Bryant, but is frequently teased by both him and his cheerleader girlfriend, Lana Thomas. Mia's only friendships are in the form of the equally unpopular Lilly Moscovitz and Lilly's brother, Michael, who secretly has a crush on Mia.

Just before her sixteenth birthday, Mia learns that her paternal grandmother, Clarisse, is visiting from Genovia, a small European kingdom. When Mia goes to meet her grandmother at a large house (later revealed to be the Genovian consulate), Clarisse reveals she is actually Queen Clarisse Renaldi, and that her son, Mia's late father, was Crown Prince of Genovia. Mia is stunned to learn she is a princess and heir to the Genovian throne. In shock, Mia runs home and angrily confronts her mother, who explains she had planned to tell Mia on her eighteenth birthday, but that her father's death has forced the matter. Queen Clarisse visits and explains that if Mia refuses the throne, Genovia will be without a ruler (a subplot involves a scheming baron and his unsightly baroness quietly rooting for Mia's downfall). Helen persuades a hesitant Mia to attend "princess lessons" with the Queen, telling her she does not have to make her decision until the upcoming Genovian Independence Day ball.

Mia is given a glamorous makeover, the use of a limousine, and a bodyguard (the Queen's head of security, Joe). This and Mia's frequent absences for the lessons with Queen Clarisse make Lilly suspicious and jealous, and she accuses Mia of trying to be like the popular girls. Mia breaks down and tells Lilly everything and swears her to secrecy. However, the San Francisco Chronicle learns that Mia is the Genovian Crown Princess after royal hairdresser Paolo breaks his confidentiality agreement (so his work would be known), causing a press frenzy, and a sudden surge in popularity at school for Mia. In a craven urge for fame, many of her classmates bluff that they are friends of the princess to reporters.

At a state dinner, Mia embarrasses herself with her clumsiness, delighting her rivals for the crown. However, all is not lost, as the situation amuses a stuffy diplomat, and the Queen tells Mia the next day that she found it fun. Deciding it is time the two bonded as grandmother and granddaughter, the Queen allows Mia to take her out for the day to the Musée Mécanique, an amusement arcade. The day almost ends terribly when Mia's car stalls on a hill and rolls backward into a cable car, but Queen Clarisse saves the day by "appointing" the attending police officer and the tram driver to the Genovian "Order of the Rose" (something she clearly made up on the spot), flattering them into dropping any charges. Mia sees this and is impressed with her grandmother.

Later, Mia is delighted when Josh Bryant invites her to a beach party, but her acceptance hurts Lilly and Michael, with whom she had plans. Things go awry when the press arrive, tipped off by Lana. Josh uses Mia to get his fifteen minutes of fame by publicly kissing her, while Lana tricks Mia into changing in a tent, pulling it away as the paparazzi arrive, giving them a scandalous shot of Mia in a towel. The photos appear on tabloid covers the next day, leaving Queen Clarisse furious at Mia. A humiliated Mia tells Clarisse that she is renouncing the throne, feeling she is nowhere near ready to be a true princess. Joe later reminds the Queen that although Mia is a princess, she is still a teenager, and her granddaughter.

Back at school, Mia rescues her friendships with Lilly and Michael by inviting them to the Genovian Independence Day Ball, and gets back at Josh by hitting a softball into his groin during gym class. She finally stands up to Lana in defense of Jeremiah, whom Lana was mocking, by smearing ice cream on Lana's cheerleader outfit and declaring that, while Mia has a chance to grow out of her awkward ways, Lana will always be a jerk. The teachers do not interfere, knowing full well that Lana deserved it. While Lilly is excited at the prospect of attending a royal ball, Michael, heartbroken over Mia's initial feelings for Josh, turns her down. Clarisse apologizes to Mia for being furious at her over the beach incident, and states that she must publicly announce her decision to renounce becoming princess of Genovia. Mia, terrified at this large responsibility placed upon her, plans to run away. However, when she finds a letter from her late father, his touching words make her change her mind, and she makes her way to the ball. Mia's car breaks down in the rain, but she is rescued by Joe, who had suspected she was going to run.

When they arrive, a drenched and untidy Mia announces her acceptance of her role as Princess of Genovia. After changing into an opulent ballgown, Mia accompanies Clarisse to the ballroom, where she is formally introduced and invited to dance. Michael, accepting an apologetic gift from Mia (a pizza topped with M & M candies cleverly arranged to say "sorry"), arrives at the ball, and after a quick dance, they adjourn to the courtyard. Mia confesses her feelings to him, stating that even when she was constantly teased and embarrassed at school, Michael liked her for whom she truly was. Mia shares her first kiss with Michael, while Clarisse and Joe are seen holding hands. In the final scene, Mia is shown on a private plane with Fat Louie, writing in her diary, explaining that she is moving with her mother to Genovia, just as the beautiful royal palace and landscape come into view below.


Order of credits adapted from Variety magazine and Turner Classic Movies:[5][6]

  • Julie Andrews as Clarisse Renaldi, Queen of Genovia and Mia's paternal grandmother.
  • Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia.
  • Héctor Elizondo as Joseph, queen Clarisse's head of security who harbors romantic feelings for her.
  • Heather Matarazzo as Lilly Moscovitz, Mia's best friend.
  • Mandy Moore as Lana Thomas, a bully at Mia's school.
  • Caroline Goodall as Helen Thermopolis, Mia's mother
  • Robert Schwartzman as Michael Moscovitz, Lilly's brother and Mia's love interest.
  • Erik von Detten as Josh Bryant, Lana's playboy boyfriend who takes advantage of Mia for fame.
  • Patrick Flueger as Jeremiah Hart, one of Mia's friends who is an amateur magician and stock speculator
  • Sean O'Bryan as Patrick O'Connell, Mia's Debate teacher
  • Sandra Oh as Vice Principal Geraldine Gupta
  • Kathleen Marshall as Charlotte Kutaway, the queen's loyal right-hand who works for the Genovian Attaché Corps.
  • Mindy Burbano as Gym teacher Ms. Anita Harbula
  • René Auberjonois as Voice of Philippe Renaldi, the queen's son and Mia's father who was a prince. He passed before he could tell Mia that she is royal.
  • Larry Miller as Paolo Puttanesca, the royal hairdresser.
  • Patrick Richwood as Mr. Robutusen, Mia's aloof neighbor who is an author.
  • Mayor Willie Brown as Himself
  • Fat Louie as Himself



The Princess Diaries is based on the young adult novel of the same name by author Meg Cabot.[3][7] Cabot's agent believed that the first Princess Diaries book had strong film potential,[8] and pursued film producer Debra Martin Chase, who had recently co-produced the television film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997), about adapting the book into a film due to their similar "rags-to-riches" and "Cinderella-type" themes.[9] Chase highly enjoyed the book and convinced Disney to adapt the novel into a feature-length production.[9] Cabot was thrilled to learn that Disney was interested in her book,[10] the film rights for which the studio paid her $4,000,[8] although some media outlets reported that Cabot had been offered "mid- to low-six figures".[8][11] Cabot recalled that Disney's decision to adapt The Princess Diaries resulted in her getting promoted at her own job, prior to which she had struggled to convince publishers to publish her novel, the content of which some found inappropriate for young children.[12]

Garry Marshall served as the film's director. He changed the film's setting from New York to San Francisco in honor of his grandchildren.

By August 1999, the film was greenlit by Disney, who agreed to produce it with singer Whitney Houston's BrownHouse Productions, and Cabot's manuscript was forwarded to potential screenwriters.[11] The Princess Diaries was Houston's first venture into feature film production,[13] and her studio's second film after Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella.[14] Chase developed the script with screenwriter Gina Wendkos.[15] Although Cabot did not write the screenplay herself, she worked closely with Chase to discuss changes deemed necessary to translate the story from page to screen, maintaining that "The essence of the story, or the message, of staying true to yourself ... still comes through".[16] Garry Marshall was enlisted as director, with Houston and Chase producing alongside Mario Iscovich.[15] Marshall was invited to direct the project while he himself had been pitching ideas to Disney executive Nina Jacobson.[15] Connecting with the material, Marshall found the story enjoyable for entire families, and was particularly drawn towards the idea of "a young girl turning into a woman and realizing that she can have a positive effect on the world."[15] Marshall elaborated, "I wanted to do a fairy tale for the fairy tale crowd, which are the young girls and boys", intending to "cross (over) and get to adults too.”[17] Furthermore, the director admitted to being fond of "female wish-fulfillment and empowerment movies";[18] Houston and Chase hoped that The Princess Diaries would be BrownHouse Productions' first in a series of female-led wish-fulfillment films,[19] originally planning to remake the musical film Sparkle (1976) as a follow up.[20] However, Marshall nearly declined the film due to a typo that read "The Princess Dairies",[21] joking, "I thought it was a movie about privileged cows!"[15][18]

The film is considerably different from the novel. Initially intended to be set in New York like Cabot's book, the script was originally called The Princess of Tribeca.[22] The title was reverted once the setting was changed to San Francisco, California,[23] a decision Marshall made because the latter is home to both himself and his granddaughters, to whom he dedicated the film.[8] Although Mia and Lilly remain environmentally and politically conscious, the filmmakers softened some of the more political aspects of their personalities to prevent the film from resembling "a political diatribe."[19] Some aspects of the film were inspired by Cabot's own childhood, particularly when her mother began dating her teacher shortly after her father's death.[24] Despite being consulted about such changes, Cabot preferred to distance herself from the creative process for the sake of her own mental health in fear of compromising her own vision for future novels,[12] insisting that the book and film exist in separate universes.[8] Cabot maintains that she had little to no creative input in the film,[25] elaborating, "I don't think Garry Marshall needs 'help' to make a movie… from a novelist who has absolutely no experience in film-making." [8][26] Although Cabot admitted that Disney would call to consult with her before making changes, she described their conversations as more informative than collaborative.[8] Cabot acknowledged that adapting the 300-page novel, which she wrote in the form of a diary, into a 90-page screenplay would be difficult for the filmmakers, but was ultimately satisfied with the results and Marshall's direction.[10][27][12]


Liv Tyler (pictured) was one of several established actresses originally considered for the role of Mia until newcomer Anne Hathaway auditioned.

Chase decided that, in terms of ethnicity, the film's cast would remain faithful to the novel due to Mia and Clarisse ruling a European country, and Chase preferring to "make good movies" as opposed to limiting herself to African-American films.[19] Anne Hathaway was cast in the lead role of Mia Thermopolis after Juliette Lewis, to whom the role had originally been offered, declined.[23] 18 years-old at the time, The Princess Diaries was Hathaway's first major film role, for which she auditioned during a 26-hour layover in Los Angeles, California while traveling to New Zealand to film The Other Side of Heaven (2001).[22] Her only prior acting credit had been in the short-lived television series Get Real.[28] Hathaway was very nervous during her audition, to the point at which she fell out of her chair; her inherent clumsiness is credited with impressing Marshall.[22][29] Several established young actresses had been considered for the role, including Reese Witherspoon, Kirsten Dunst,[30] Alicia Silverstone, Jessica Biel, Claire Danes,[23] Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz,[31] Drew Barrymore,[25] Sarah Michelle Gellar, Brittany Murphy, Katie Holmes, Christina Applegate, Kate Beckinsale and Eva Mendes,[32] while Liv Tyler was deemed a front-runner.[33] Marshall's granddaughters ultimately convinced the director to cast Hathaway over Tyler because they felt that she possessed the more "princess-like hair".[24] The actress was cast based on her sole audition without performing a screen test.[23] Although Marshall believed that several other actresses seemed capable of embodying Mia's comedic aspects, he determined that only Hathaway possessed "the grace and authority" to deliver the character's final speech.[34] Hathaway's appearance and performance reminded Marshall of Julia Roberts, whom he had directed to great success in the romantic comedy Pretty Woman (1990),[29] describing her as a fusion of Roberts and comedian Harpo Marx due to her combination of glamour and physical comedy, which he also likened to his own sister Penny Marshall.[15] Hathaway gained weight for the role to resemble "a regular teen."[30] The actress credits Marshall with teaching her the most important lesson of her career: "You never know what's going to be a hit, so you might as well have fun making it."[15]

A semi-retired Julie Andrews was cast as Queen Clarisse Renaldi, the actress' first Disney role since Mary Poppins (1964). The character of Mia's grandmother was expanded specifically with Andrews in mind.

Julie Andrews, who had been semi-retired from acting at the time,[35] was cast as Clarisse Renaldi, Mia's grandmother and Queen of Genovia.[36] Marshall personally invited Andrews to discuss the film with him; Andrews identified the director as "the hook" that convinced her to accept the role, having been a long-time fan of his work.[37] She accepted the role based solely on her conversations with Marshall, without reading the script.[38] Although Sophia Loren is rumored to have been offered the role,[39] Marshall insists that Andrews is the first and only actress he considered,[15][40] having been a fan since seeing her on Broadway in My Fair Lady.[41] Known for portraying princesses and nobility throughout her career,[38][42] Andrews incorporated knowledge she had acquired about European royalty and mannerisms of Britain's royal family into her performance as Mia's regal mentor;[43][39] Queen Elizabeth II herself had knighted Andrews one year prior, making her a Dame of the British Empire.[41] Marshall allowed Andrews significant freedom to determine Clarisse's portrayal.[38] Cabot was initially hesitant about Andrews' casting, feeling that the actress was too kind to play such a stern character, but ultimately relented upon seeing her interpretation, explaining that she "had just the right amount of regalness mixed with grandmotherly warmth."[10] Andrews also used the opportunity to mentor Hathaway,[44] although she maintains that the younger actress required very little training: "She has great instincts, good talent ... She has this ability to do humor, comedy, very well. So other than actually honing her craft and learning from the doing, she has it all.”[34] The Princess Diaries was Andrews' first Disney film since Mary Poppins (1964), the role for which she had won an Academy Award for Best Actress 37 years prior,[24][45] and her first performance in a feature-length film in 15 years.[46] The film is credited with reviving Andrews' film career and introducing her to a younger generation of fans,[42][47] rivaling her performances in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music (1965) in terms of popularity.[39]

Marshall cast Heather Matarazzo as Mia's best friend Lilly Moscovitz after casting director Marcia Ross introduced them to each other, insisting that Matarazzo is different from other actresses.[48] Matarazzo attended a chemistry reading with Hathaway after auditioning for Marshall; Hathaway believes that the two actresses had met several times prior, none of which Matarazzo remembers, expounding, "I was such a sarcastic, little punk-ass kid that couldn't be bothered by cheerfulness" while "She's such a warmhearted, beautiful, sweet, soulful woman".[48] Matarazzo insists that they got along famously despite their differences, likening their on-screen chemistry to Richard Gere and Roberts' in Pretty Woman.[48] Furthermore, the actress cites Marshall as her favourite director, whose positive energy she described as unrivaled by other directors.[48] Matarazzo was also starstruck by the opportunity to work with Andrews, whose films she had idolized as a child, and often asked for the veteran actress' autograph.[48]

Héctor Elizondo was cast as Joe, Mia's limousine driver and Clarisse's head of security.[49] Elizondo is known for appearing in all 18 films Marshall directed.[44] Pop singer Mandy Moore was cast as Mia's school rival Lana Thomas, her first credited film role.[50][51] 16 years-old at the time, Marshall was the first film director Moore worked with; she recalled that the director "had no business casting me ... I didn’t know what I was doing. So I think the highlight of the film was working with him.”[51] Moore also appreciated the fact that several of her co-stars were similar to her in age, crediting the experience overall with setting her acting career "in motion".[51] Robert Schwartzman was cast as Michael, Mia's love interest and Lilly's brother. His real-life band Rooney makes a cameo appearance as garage band Flypaper,[24] with Schwartzman playing their lead singer. The musicians perform "Blueside", one of Rooney's original songs.[23] Schwartzman wanted to change his last name in the credits to Cage in honor of his cousin Nicolas Cage, but the film's promotional material had already been finalized.[25] The Princess Diaries remains Schwartzman's only major film role.[25]

Marshall cast several of his own family members in supporting and minor roles.[52] Kathleen Marshall, Marshall's daughter, plays Clarisse's secretary Charlotte Kutaway. Charlotte's surname is only revealed during the credits; Marshall explained that the character was named after how often she appears in cutaway shots, and her role references the filmmaking technique in which "whenever anything goes wrong in the film, you cut away to someone, so we cut away to Charlotte".[53] Marshall's wife appears as a ball guest, while his twin granddaughters Lily and Charlotte, the same granddaughters who preferred Hathaway over Tyler,[23] appear as a pair of schoolgirls who ask for Mia's autograph.[52] Marshall himself has a brief cameo during the Genovian Independence Day Ball,[23] alongside sister Penny.[25] San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown portrayed himself in a cameo appearance during which he is briefly interviewed upon arriving at the same ball.[15]

Further writing[edit]

Further adjustments were made to the script once the cast had been finalized. Marshall was constantly conceiving ways of making the film funnier, which has been described as a collaborative environment, encouraging a family-like atmosphere and abiding by his motto "Life is more important than show business."[48] Marshall would sometimes throw parades for the cast and crew, particularly when it was a cast or crew members' birthday,[44] during which they would stop filming for at least half an hour.[48] Marshall celebrated a birthday while filming, during which Houston herself serenaded him with a rendition of "Happy Birthday".[25] The character of Mia's grandmother, nicknamed "Grandmere" in the books, is considerably nicer in the film.[10] Disney's decision to have Mia's father be dead in the film is among the most significant deviations from the source material, who is alive and has a major role in the books.[54] The producers decided to kill off Mia's father in favor of expanding her grandmother's role, which they had already been considering offering to Julie Andrews.[54] Upon learning that Disney was interested in casting a "big name" actress such as Andrews, Cabot allowed Mia's father to be eliminated from the film version,[54] much of whose dialogue was then reassigned to Mia's grandmother.Marshall wrote Hathaway's struggles with speaking while wearing a retainer into the film; the actress filmed the scene wearing the same retainer she had worn in real life.[31] Elizondo and Andrews campaigned for a romantic relationship to develop between their respective characters, an idea that originated during a table reading during which the actors turned to each other and uttered "you're cute".[49] The actors improvised their dance sequence.[25] Elizondo credits this with evolving his character into more than simply "a guy who drove a limo."[49]

Upon Marshall's request, Andrews suggested that the fictional country of Genovia be famous for its pears, after which point the set was decorated with various fake pears and pear-shaped statues.[24] "Not you, I don't even know you", one of Matarazzo's most oft-quoted lines which she utters to someone while running down the street, was entirely improvised at the suggestion of Chase.[48] Houston conceived the scene in which Mia smears her ice cream cone on Lana's cheerleader uniform.[55] Mia recites one of Juliet's soliloquies from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a deliberate reference to the fact that Hathaway shares her full name with Shakespeare's wife.[33]

The film contains several references to Pretty Woman,[33][56] another film directed by Marshall to which The Princess Diaries has often been compared.[33][36][57] In addition to sharing a "Pygmalion-esque transformation story", both films share several cast members.[36] Both Elizondo and Larry Miller, who portrays Mia's hairstylist Paolo,[56] had appeared in Pretty Woman,[58] Elizondo playing a hotel manager who helps transform Roberts' prostitute Vivian into a socialite.[59] Most notably, actor Alan Kent, portraying a waiter,[24] delivers the same line he once delivered to Julia Roberts' character in Pretty Woman during the scene in which Mia accidentally breaks a glass.[33] The Princess Diaries is credited with establishing Hathaway's acting career,[24] similar to the way in which Pretty Woman offered Roberts' breakthrough role.[56]


Set and locations[edit]

The Princess Diaries was filmed at a budget of $26 million.[60][61] Principal photography took place between September 18 and December 8, 2000. The Princess Diaries was filmed on Stage 2 at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California,[33] the same sound stage on which Mary Poppins, which starred Andrews in the titular role,[24] had been filmed during the 1960s.[19][62] The stage was later renamed the "Julie Andrews Stage" in honor of the actress' contributions.[24][62] Andrews recalls having to constantly walk up and down the set's main staircase while struggling to remain regal and composed in appearance.[39] Additionally, Marshall resided in the same house that Andrews herself had rented while filming Mary Poppins,[23] having lived in the building since 1974.[19][41] Marshall joked that he and the actress have "amazing" karma due to sharing several similarities and coincidences.[19] The Washington Post contributor Kristal Brent Zook wrote that Marshall and Andrews have also "proved themselves masters of the modern fairy tale" due to both of their repertoires consisting largely of romantic, Cinderella-themed material.[19]

The film was shot on several locations throughout California, with Alverno High School serving as Mia's private school Grove High School.[15] A refurbished fire station named Engine Company No. 43 was used as Mia and Helen's home, located on Brazil Avenue.[63] In 2014, the building was listed for sale at $2.6 million.[64] Mount St. Mary's University in California was used as the location for The Genovian Consulate.[23] Unlike much of the film, which was filmed in San Francisco, the beach party sequence was filmed in Malibu.[65] The production designers decorated Malibu's Zuma Beach to resemble San Francisco's Baker Beach, a convincing transformation that ultimately fooled audience members.[65]

To help Hathaway feel more comfortable on set, many of its props belonged to the actress' family.[30] Mia's photograph of her late father is a photograph of Hathaway's own father, Gerald Hathaway.[31][33] Gerald also briefly portrays the character during a flashback sequence in which he writes a letter to Mia.[31] Mia's pet cat Fat Louie was portrayed by four different cats, one of whom was owned by Hathaway herself.[33] Each cat served a different purpose: one was meant to be carried, another sat still for extended periods of time, a third was used for jumping and stunts, and the final (Hathaway's) is featured during the film's final scene.[23] During the state dinner in which a guest's arm catches fire, the fire was intended to be extinguished once the actor placed his arm in a nearby ice bucket. However, when the fire persisted, Hathaway panicked and doused it with a glass of water, an improvisation that was kept in the film.[66] Hathaway tripped and fell while filming a scene in which she is walking atop bleachers during the rain,[67] but continued to recite her lines as though nothing had happened.[24] Marshall found the unscripted incident funny and decided to retain it.[33] Matarazzo, who had been filming the scene with Hathaway, identified this moment as "a testament to the kind of person that she is, not just professionally but personally… You fall, you laugh, and you keep going”.[67] She also identified this as her favorite moment while filming.[48] While filming the final dance sequence, the crew played Madonna's "Like a Prayer" (1989) for the cast to dance to; multiple takes were required because the cast kept instinctively lip syncing its lyrics.[23] The track was dubbed by a different song in the final edit.[23]

Costume design[edit]

Costume designer Gary Jones, who had worked with Marshall prior, was drawn to the film due to the range of costumes required, describing it as "a costume designer's dream come true".[15] Jones worked closely with Andrews when designing Clarisse's costumes, drawing inspiration from Chanel, Bill Blass and Christian Dior.[15] The gown Andrews wears to the state dinner is a homage to her stage role as My Fair Lady's Eliza Doolittle, which was handmade in China.[15] Jones determined that Mia would originally be shy about her body, opting to dress her in layers, long sleeves and loose-fitting clothing.[15] The actress' periwinkle state dinner gown was inspired by the princess of Sweden, with Jones describing it as "a bow to the Renaissance and Romeo and Juliet", which she accessorized with an 18-carat diamond ring.[15]

Both Hathaway and Andrews' tiara's were custom-made for the actresses, with the designers ensuring that both characters' head pieces were appropriate for their age.[39] The tiara and jewelry Andrews wears during the final scene consisted of half a million dollars’ worth of diamonds, loaned to the production by jeweler Harry Winston,[23] with whom Jones worked closely to obtain several unique jewels.[15] A security guard followed Andrews at all times to protect her and ensure that the jewels were returned at the end of each day.[39][41] Andrews' peach taffeta ballgown was accessorized with 100 carat diamond necklace consisting of four rows of diamonds.[15] Andrews donned the same necklace to that years Academy Award's ceremony.[68] Hathaway's tiara was considerably less expensive,[23] consisting of cubic zirconia as opposed to authentic jewels.[31][69] The crowns and tiaras worn by both actresses are preserved by the Walt Disney Archives, into which they were inducted in 2016 to commemorate the film's 15th anniversary.[70]

Hathaway donned false eyebrows and a wig to make her character's makeover more dramatic.[30] Hathaway's hair piece was nicknamed "The Beast", while her eyebrows required one hour to apply;[33] each strand of hair was glued to her brow individually.[23] At times Hathaway was required to leave the set in full costume, claiming that she "never felt so alone in [her] entire life."[71]


BrownHouse Productions was heavily involved in curating music for the film, which Kristal Brent Zook of The Washington Post observed "displays more girl power and ethnic flavor than the film does."[19] Dawn Soler served as the film's music supervisor.[72] Moore recorded a cover of Connie Francis' "Stupid Cupid" for the film's soundtrack.[73] Composer John Debney was recruited to score the film. Long-time friends with Disney executive Bill Green, Green felt that Debney would be suitable for the film and proceeded to introduce him to Marshall.[74] Debney identified The Princess Diaries as one of the films he is most proud to have worked on, explaining that there is an "emotional connection" that comes to mind when he thinks of the film as it reminds him of his own mother.[75]

The official soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on July 24, 2001.[76] Described as largely collection of pop rock, teen pop, and dance-pop tracks,[76] the soundtrack also features contributions from artists BBMak, Aaron Carter, Backstreet Boys, Myra, Hanson and B*Witched.[77] AllMusic's Heather Phares reviewed that the album consists of mostly " slick, virtually interchangeable singles ... a few tracks, for better or worse, are particularly distinctive", and felt that the album could have benefited from being more original as the Backstreet Boys' track "What Makes You Different (Makes You Beautiful)" implies.[76] A soundtrack consisting exclusively of the film's orchestral score was released on December 11, 2001, credited to Debney.[78]


Due to its themes, The Princess Diaries have been heavily compared to the play Pygmalion; the play served as the basis for the stage musical My Fair Lady, in which Andrews originated the role of main character Eliza Doolittle.

Andrews explained that the film is as much "about what you are inside and the responsibility and just plain old hard work that goes into being a princess" as it is "about the trappings of being a princess."[39] Hathaway identified "remaining true to yourself" among the film's core values, describing Mia's transformation as both emotional and psychological, in addition to physical.[15] Hathaway elaborated that, despite the makeover, her character most importantly learns that "life shouldn't be about what the rest of the world can do for her" but rather "doing everything in her power to help other people", emphasizing her emotional transformation over her physical one.[19] Chase regards the plot as an "empowerment story," identifying "the power to be anything that you want to be" as its core message.[19] Chase elaborated, "In the beginning, Mia looks in the mirror and doesn't think she's princess material at all" but ultimately "comes to believe that she is."[19] Bustle contributor Veronica Walsingham wrote that the film explores feminism, identity, family, girlhood, and duty, believing that The Princess Diaries "is a feminist dream of fully developed female characters whose arcs aren't dependent on male characters", additionally passing the Bechdel test.[77] A critic for Time Out wrote that the film discusses "responsibility, surrogacy, rites of passage and the value of friendship".[79]

Most of Marshall's films revolved around themes "of recognizing and embracing one's own unique qualities and gifts".[15] The Globe and Mail's Liam Lacey observed that the film follows a traditional fairy tale plot: "a fairy godmother, and the lowly girl who becomes a princess, complete with tiara, the dress and a plump frog to be transformed into Prince Charming."[80] The Princess Diaries has been noted to have romantic comedy elements.[81] The film has also drawn comparisons to Pygmalion,[79][82] a play that also served as the basis for the stage musical My Fair Lady, in which Andrews originated the role of Eliza Doolittle.[59] Mia has been compared to the character of Eliza.[83] Identifying Pygmalion as "the model for all subsequent dramas about the recreation of social identity", The Guardian film critic Philip French identified The Princess Diaries as one of several films that adhere to "the makeover drama" believed to have first been embodied by the ballet Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.[59] Similarly, HuffPost contributor Matthew recognized the film among several "more recent approaches" towards the Pygmalion story.[84] Jacobs Kristal Brent Zook of The Washington Post wrote that Clarisse "must ... remake the gawky girl into a vision of regal grace, fit to take the throne" in "true Henry Higgins fashion", a character from the musical.[19] The Seattle Times film critic Moira Macdonald also wrote that Andrews "play[s] Henry Higgins to young Anne Hathaway's Eliza".[85] Also writing for The Washington Post, Michael O'Sullivan similarly observed that "Most of the comedy mileage comes from the My Fair Lady scenario, in which Mia's initially frumpy appearance and klutzy manner are eliminated through a regime of industrial-strength cosmetology and boot camp-style finishing school."[86]

Nanciann Cherry, writing for The Blade, reviewed the film as "no more and no less than a live-action Cinderella, all dolled up for the 21st century."[87] Some critics were concerned that the film's message might encourage younger viewers "that all awkward teens need do to find contentment is get a makeover and wait for a hitherto unknown royal grandmother to come lay a crown on their heads."[83]


The Princess Diaries premiered on July 29, 2001 at the El Capitan Theatre.[88] Prior to airing the film, Marshall encouraged the audience to chant "G is a good rating", referencing the noticeable decline in G-rated films that year.[17] A princess-themed tea party was hosted after the screening, with cast members Andrews, Hathaway, Goodall, Matarazzo, Moore, Schwartzman, Von Detten, and Mindy Burbano attending.[17] In addition to Jacobson, Disney executives Bob Iger, Richard Cook, Mark Vahradian, Chuck Viane and Oren Aviv were present, as well as actors Spencer Treat Clark, David Hasselhoff, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Michelle Trachtenberg.[17] Additionally, the party feature appearances by actors portraying Disney Princesses, including Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora and Belle.[17][89]

Disney delayed the release of The Other Side of Heaven, which Hathaway had filmed before The Princess Diaries, to allow the latter film to take precedence, confident that The Princess Diaries' performance would bolster the success of The Other Side of Heaven.[29] The Princess Diaries was released on August 3, 2001.[25] The Princess Diaries was a surprise success and sleeper hit.[33][90][91][92] The film opened in 2,537 theaters in North America and grossed more than $23.2 million during in its opening weekend,[16][57] completing the weekend in third place behind Rush Hour and Planet of the Apes.[93] The film's box office returns surprised several industry commentators,[94] far exceeding expectations.[95] Analysts originally estimated that the film would earn $13-$15 million.[95].ABC News believes that the film's strong opening earnings benefited from being one of summer 2001's few G-rated productions released amidst PG-13-and R-rated films, to which parents flocked with their families,[96] while Allen Wan of MarketWatch joked that the family-friendly rating "didn't scare off mature audiences apparently."[95] It grossed $165,335,153 worldwide,[97] $108,248,956 in North America and $57,086,197 in other territories.[2] The film's box office returns were considered remarkably high considering the fact that the lead role was not played by an established actor.[16] The film became one of the highest-grossing releases of 2001.[9]

To commemorate the film's 10th anniversary in April 2012,[39] the film was released on Blu-ray to coincide with Disney's National Princess Week and the release of Andrews' book The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes The Flower Girl!.[38] A double-disk paired with The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, the release was sold at Target.[38]

Critical response[edit]

The Princess Diaries earned mixed reviews from film critics upon release.[16][77][98] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 47% of 113 critics surveyed reviewed the film positively, assigning it an average rating of 5.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A charming, if familiar, makeover movie for young teenage girls."[99] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted score of 52 based on 27 reviews, indicating "Mixed or average reviews."[100] Ed Park, writing for The Village Voice, reviewed the film as "a modest, enjoyable fairy tale that easily outcharms its animated stablemates of the past decade", continuing, "The movie hits its timeworn marks with grace and wit, thanks to game gamine Hathaway and an effortlessly regal Andrews."[101] Calling The Princess Diaries "an ideal family film", Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times commended Marshall's ability to "mak[e] make-believe seem real" while describing Wendkos' screenplay as "skillfully adapted" and praising Andrews' performance.[102] Awarding the film a B+, Entertainment Weekly film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote that Marshall "directs Gina Wendkos’ girl-wise script ... with avuncular affection and, by his standards, a minimum of court jestering, and he encourages moments of appropriate delirium among his large cast", highlighting Andrews and Oh's contributions and dubbing it a "charming ... production" that "gets the duckling-to-swan ambivalence just right."[103]

Anne Hathaway's performance in The Princess Diaries (her first film role) earned widespread acclaim from film critics, who cited her comic timing as an asset to the film.

Film critic Mick LaSalle, writing for SFGate, called the film superior to Marshall's Pretty Woman, going on to deem it "Marshall's best movie".[104] Dubbing Clarisse "Andrews' best showcase in years," LaSalle credited most of the film's humor with Andrews' performance, specifically her reaction to Hathaway's gimmicks.[104] The Washington Post film critic Michael O'Sullivan wrote that, despite the film's younger target demographic, "there's enough bile and phlegm souring up the sweet main story to appeal to even those of us with more mature tastes."[86] Although Christine Dolen of the Miami Herald believed that Mia's clumsiness is "by far the most winning things about" the film, she felt that the script "leaves much to be desired -- like an intriguing storyline, any semblance of believability or choices beyond the obvious".[105] She ultimately credited Andrews and Hathaway's performances with saving the picture.[105] Robert Koehler of Variety felt that Marshall and Wendkos "waste the charming comic tone and observations of Cabot’s book, especially ... where the reformation of Mia is depicted almost off-handedly."[5] Koehler criticized the film for squandering comedic opportunities by focusing on Mia's school and romantic relationships as opposed to her grandmother's training.[5] However, he felt that Andrews and Elizondo were perfectly cast, and commended Hathaway's comedic instincts.[5] The Globe and Mail's Liam Lacey agreed that "Surprisingly little time is spent mining the comic potential of Mia's education, with the comedy rationed in favour of a tiresome amount of attention lavished on her ongoing school problems", but concluded that Marshall deserves "credit for his keen sense of historical symmetry in the perfect casting of Julie Andrews".[80] Praising the cast's chemistry, Loren King, writing for the Chicago Tribune, credited Andrews' performance with "kick[ing] the film's class quotient up several notches."[106]

Hathaway's performance was widely praised by film critics.[107] LaSalle wrote, "Hathaway is not a natural comic, but her acting has a truthfulness that gives The Princess Diaries its emotional core. She is also a chameleon, who, from the most unpromising of beginnings, blossoms before our eyes into near- Audrey Hepburn-level loveliness", additionally commending her chemistry with Matarazzo.[104] Elvis Mitchell, film critic for The New York Times, found the film to be merely "a blandly reassuring comedy" but described it as perfectly cast, hailing Hathaway as "royalty in the making, a young comic talent with a scramble of features".[108] However, Mitchell felt that her character becomes less interesting once she undergoes her makeover and predicted that some viewers will find the sequence problematic.[108] Similarly, The Seattle Times' Moira Macdonald felt that the film could have done without Mia's "teen-queen makeover, which made her look alarmingly like a junior Julia Roberts", but wrote that Andrews "tucks the film into her carpet bag and walks away with it", crowing her "pure screen royalty."[85]

Even the film's most adamant detractors consistently found Hathaway to be enjoyable in the role.[16] Notable Biographies believes that the film might not have been nearly as successful had Hathaway not been cast.[16] Several critics and journalists compared Hathaway to "a young" Roberts.[57] Lacey felt that Mia "never achieves true dorkiness, though she does a reasonable impression of a fashion model going through a geek-chic phase", comparing her to Roberts. The critic concluded "The girl clearly has a movie future."[80] Asher Price, reviewing the film for The Denver Post, lauded Andrews' contribution while identifying Hathaway as "a good match for Andrews."[109] Calling the film "a surprisingly sophisticated comedy" that avoids common teen film tropes, price enjoyed the training sequences but felt that Mia's confidence is solely as a result of her physical transformation, describing the latter as "The only disturbing part of the film".[109] Despite being unimpressed with his direction, the New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick commended Marshall for "showcas[ing] Hathaway’s star quality in a way that’s more than a little reminiscent of his most famous film, Pretty Woman", praising Elizondo's "excellent" contribution.[46]

ReelViews' James Berardinelli wrote that Marshall "takes a stale plot and explores it in a thoroughly uninteresting way, reducing characters to types and heaping mounds of saccharine and false sentiment on top in a vain attempt to disguise the bland flavor", also dismissing the cast as "mediocre" at best.[110] Film critic Roger Ebert panned the entire film as a "swamp of recycled ugly duckling stories, with occasional pauses in the marsh of sitcom cliches and the bog of Idiot Plots", finding it predictable, poorly edited and Hathaway too physically attractive to offer a convincing transformation.[111] Salon film critic Stephanie Zacharek reviewed the film as "so aggressively bland and inoffensive that it practically recedes from the screen".[112] Zacharek is also one of the few film critics to deride the leads' performances, dismissing Andrews as "so shellacked and precise ... that it makes you want to run out of the theater and roll around in the dirt."[112]


Year Award Category Nominee Result
2002 ALMA Award Outstanding Song in a Motion Picture Soundtrack "Miracles Happen" by Myra Nominated
ASCAP Top Box Office Film John Debney Won
Artios Award Best Casting for Feature Film, Comedy Marcia Ross, Donna Morong, Gail Goldberg Nominated
BFCA Award Best Family Film - Live Action Nominated
Golden Trailer Award Best Animation/Family Nominated
Hollywood Makeup Artist Hair Stylist Guild Award Best Contemporary Makeup - Feature Hallie D'Amore, Leonard Engelman Nominated
MTV Movie Award Breakthrough Female Performance Anne Hathaway Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie: Actress, Comedy Anne Hathaway Nominated
Choice Movie: Comedy Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Family Feature Film - Comedy Nominated


A sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, was released on August 11, 2004, with Garry Marshall returning to direct and Debra Martin Chase to produce the sequel. Unlike the first film, it is not based on any of the books. Most of the cast returned for the sequel, including Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Héctor Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo, and Larry Miller. New cast and characters include Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies), Lord Nicholas Devereaux (Chris Pine), and Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue). There has been constant speculation about whether or not a third film will be released for several years.[31][113] Several cast member have expressed introduced in returning for a third installment, particularly Hathaway and Andrews. In 2016, Marshall revealed that he had discussed the possibility of having a third film set in New York with both actresses. Interest has bolstered following Marshall's death in 2016, with Cabot revealing that a script for the third film already exists, indicating that the threequel would most likely be a tribute to Marshall.[114]

In January 2019, Hathaway confirmed there is a script being written for a third film and that she, Julie Andrews, and producer Debra Martin-Chase are on board.[115]


Elite Daily contributor described the film as "a bonafide fave of '90s and 2000s kids alike".[3] Andrews attributes the film's longevity to the notion that "every seven years ... There’s always a new generation that can discover it."[38] The actress believes that the film continues to resonate with audiences "because it’s got a wonderful heart. It’s about responsibility and obligation and decency and growing up and discovering who you are inside."[38] Seventeen ranked The Princess Diaries the 10th best "Best Teen Movies You Can't Grow Up Without Watching".[116] The scene in which Mia undergoes a physical makeover has garnered significant attention, with several media publications ranking it among the greatest makeover sequences in film history.[117][118][119][120][121] E! contributor McKenna Aiello identified the moment as "the first scene that comes to mind" when one remembers The Princess Diaries,[122] a sentiment with which InStyle agreed.[123] Lauren Hubbard, writing for Allure, believes that the film "may very well be one of the single greatest makeover movies of our generation," publishing a list of "11 Beauty Lessons We Learned from The Princess Diaries".[124] Cosmopolitan's Eliza Thompson wrote that "Few makeover movies hold up as well as The Princess Diaries".[48] Katie Rosseinsky of Grazia credits the film with introducing "one of the best makeover sequences in teen movie history" while teaching audiences "some pretty excellent life lessons".[125] Ranking it second, Her Campus hailed the scene as "the best teenage makeover ever."[126] Total Beauty ranked the sequence ninth, crowning it the "Best Hair Movie Makeover".[127] Steaming service Netflix identified the scene among "Five Films That Have Amazing Makeovers".[128]

Bustle writer Veronica Walsingham believes that The Princess Diaries' makeover sequence distinguishes itself from similar movie scenes because "it's an actual makeover" involving a complete physical transformation, whereas several other films "feature a female character who is made over by, like, taking off her glasses."[77] The Ringer ranked the scene seventh best on their "Definitive Ranking of the Best Movie Makeovers", with author Andrew Gruttadaro calling Mia's reveal from behind two photographs of her original self a highlight.[129] When rumors of a third installment of the series were denied by Disney in 2015, Entertainment Weekly editor Isabella Biedenharn advised disappointed fans to seek comfort by watching the original film's makeup sequence.[91] The sequence's popularity has resulted in makeover sequences becoming something of a trademark for Hathaway, whose characters have undergone similar transformations in subsequent films such as Ella Enchanted (2004),[130] The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and Les Misérables (2012),[127] with some media publications crowning her the "queen of makeover movies".[126][129] The mint sorbet Mia consumes as a palate cleanser during the state dinner has frequently been commented upon in the media.[131][132] Describing the dessert as "the element of the movie that has always stood out the most", Priya Krishna, a food writer for The Cut, reported that since the film's release, food bloggers have attempted to recreate the dessert and celebrities have commented upon it on social media, concluding, "nothing ... has been so simultaneously mystifying and fascinating to me as the palate cleanser in The Princess Diaries", crediting it with inspiring her career trajectory.[133] Zimbio ranked the confection one of the "Top 20 Movie Desserts Of All Time".[134]

After the film, Hathaway suffered from being typecast in "good girl" roles in Hollywood,[24] and struggled to pursue more serious, non-princess roles;[90] this would inspire her to pursue a wider range of films as possible.[33] Hathaway explained that "Because I became so associated with The Princess Diaries ... my main [criterion] is to look for the opposite of what I last did.”[135]Hathaway commemorates the film's release date every year, thanking "the universe ... because that was the day that dreams came true for me".[136] Marie Claire ranked The Princess Diaries Hathaway's second greatest film performance, describing the "SHUT UP" her character utters upon discovering she's a princess as iconic.[137] When Marshall passed away in July 2016,[138] several The Princess Diaries cast members paid tribute to the late director online.[139] Following Marshall's death, The Daily Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin wrote that The Princess Diaries is "by no means a flawless movie," but rather "one from which a star was able to bounce out, eyes bright, teeth flashing and primed for adoration. Marshall’s films may never have made him a critical darling, but his best work thrived on smile power – on both the faces of his audience and cast."[140] When the film was released on Netflix in 2018, the streaming service tweeted their surprise at the revelation that Houston served as a producer on the film, inspiring several Twitter users to comment the same.[55] The film's popularity among audiences has since defied expectations initially indicated by its lukewarm reception nearly two decades after its release.[77] Observing that the film experienced a renaissance in 2018, Walsingham credits the film's resurgence to its release on Netflix and American actress Meghan Markle's marriage to Prince Harry,[77] whose narrative has been compared to Mia's role in The Princess Diaries in the media, particularly the fact that Markle underwent "duchess training" for the title.[141][142]


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