Pears, four cats and fake eyebrows: The filming secrets of The Princess Diaries

There are so many Pretty Woman references


It’s been two decades since the first Princess Diaries movie came out and honestly no teen girl movie will ever compare.

The movie was Anne Hathaway’s film debut and was directed by Garry Marshall, inspired by the novel series of the same name by Meg Cabot. It showcased the beauty of San Francisco, made us route for two old people to fall in love and had a load of Pretty Woman references which went straight over our heads when we watched it.

Now looking back the Pretty Woman references are obvious but other production secrets aren’t as clear. You’d probably be surprised to know Mia’s hair pre transformation was actually a hair piece called the “beast” and it was actually down to Julie Andrews that Genovia is obsessed with pears.

These are the Princess Diaries production secrets which will shock and surprise you:

Mia’s hair and eyebrows were fake

Mia’s hair and eyebrows in the first film are iconic for how wild and untamed they were and it turns out the were completely fake. On the set the hairpiece was nicknamed “the beast” for how unruly it was.

It took an hour to apply the eyebrows to Anne’s face with every individual hair having to be glued into place. That is a lot of effort.

There were four cats playing Fat Louis

Sadly there is not one iconic cat playing Fat Louis instead there were four cats who were on rotation during filming.

One of the cats was said to be Anne’s actual cat and another was a robot.

There’s a load of Pretty Woman crossovers

Garry Marshall directed the Princess Diaries and Pretty Woman and he’s known to include references to his other films in subsequent work. In the Princess Diaries there are a load of Pretty Woman references.

Firstly Hector Elizondo was in both films and then the waiter at the state dinner is also the same as the one who is there for Julia Roberts’ first fancy dinner.

The waiter played by Allan Kent also says the exact same identical line to Anne Hathaway as he does to Julia Roberts – “It happens all the time”.

Mia’s fall was unscripted

Anne got the role of Mia after just one audition for her natural clumsiness when she fell off the chair during the first meeting with Garry.

And her clumsiness continued on set when she fell through the bleachers which was completely unscripted. Anne fell and they kept it in for how funny it was.

They killed off Mia’s dad for Julie Andrews

Ok so this not as twisted as it sounds. In The Princess Diaries books Mia’s dad is still alive and very present, however in order to give Julie Andrews a more important role they decided to get rid of Mia’s dad.

Meg Cabot said Disney told her they wanted to give some of the dad’s lines to the grandma and when she found out who the actress was Meg just told Disney to get rid of the dad.

The actor who played Michael really was in a band

During the first film Michael plays piano in a band and this is when life imitates art as it turns out Robert Schwartzman who plays Michael was really in a band.

Robert is the lead singer in the band Rooney. They’ve been together since 1999 and are still releasing music now.

Julie Andrews and Hector Elizondo created their love story

Easily the sweetest love story of both movies is between Clarisse and Joe and we have Julie Andrews and Hector Elizondo to thank for that.

The plot wasn’t part of the script or the original books. According to Hector they came up with in on set, “that came from a reading: Julie and I looked at each other and said, ‘Hmm, you’re cute.’ We liked each other very much,” he said.

Julie Andrews thought of the pear obsession

Another plot point designed by Julie Andrews was the Genovian obsession with pears. In a documentary about Garry Marshall Julie revealed in one of her early meetings with Garry he asked her what she thought Genovia would make.

She said: “Making it all up on the spur of the moment, I said, ‘Well I think they’d grow beautiful pears … and the nuns would probably make lace.'”

Julie went onto say when she arrived on set “we had pears all over the set, and lace all over the place as well.” The lesson here is always listen to Julie Andrews.

The jewellery in Mia’s wardrobe was real and had their own security guards

I can’t be the only one who was utterly obsessed with Mia’s massive walk-in wardrobe in the second movie. The clothes, the tiaras and the jewellery – they were all stunning.

The jewellery sets were actually all real and came from the jewellers Chopard. Due to the cost of the jewels there was an armed security guard on set to protect the jewellery.

The real mayor of San Fransisco had a cameo

The final scenes of the first movie were supposed to host a bunch of famous and important people and it turns out the actual mayor of San Fransisco had a cameo.

Willie Brown starred as himself at the Genovian ball and said the iconic line: “it never comes down on Willie Brown!”

Loads of Garry Marshall’s family starred in the movie

princess diaries production secrets

Garry Marshall created The Princess Diaries for his granddaughters so it’s only natural they appeared in the film. His twin granddaughters played the girls asking for Mia’s autograph in front of the school.

Garry’s daughter Kathleen Marshall had a far more prominent role in both movies when she starred as Charlotte, the queen’s right hand woman.

It really was a family affair as Garry and his sister even had cameos in the ball scene at the end.

The picture of Mia’s dad is Anne’s real dad

In the beginning of the movie we see a picture of Mia’s dad and guess who it is? Only Anne Hathaway’s real dad.

Parts of Meg Cabot’s book were inspired by her real life

princess diaries production secrets

Obviously Meg Cabot is not a princess however one big part of her life inspired The Princess Diaries. When Meg’s own father died her mother began dating one of her teachers just as Mia’s mum does.

Meg also revealed she used to want her family to be royalty and that’s where The Princess Diaries came from.

A lot of the first film was shot on location

The iconic streets of San Fransisco formed the backdrop of many scenes in the Princess Diaries and they really did film on location. They filmed at the Musee Mecanique, Russian Hill and Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles that worked as the Genovian Consulate.

However the beach scene was actually filmed in Malibu rather than Baker Beach in San Fransisco. The crew made extra effort to ensure it looked like the one in San Fransisco though.

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