Exit Interview: Lauren Weisberger
You might think Lauren Weisberger, one of the undisputed queens of chick lit, would be a grade-A snob, considering her success: Prada, her first novel, was a Times best-seller and inspired an Oscar-nominated film. Even her friends must be, like, totes sick of her, right? But when the 33-year-old checked in to plug her latest, Last Night at Chateau Marmont, she couldn’t have been sweeter, despite nursing a nasty cold and dealing with questions about Anna Wintour as well as her own unapologetic love of sweatpants.
EXIT INTERVIEW: You moved from Clarks Summit to Allentown at age 11. Did your childhood feel like a Billy Joel song?
LAUREN WEISBERGER: The Billy Joel song is the most negative ever. It was such a pleasant, easy childhood. A good public high school, football games every Friday night, parties with your friends. We went into Philly quite a bit. My mother now lives in Washington Crossing. It’s adorable. And I have some very good friends in Center City, so I get there a bit, too.
EI: You’ve said that growing up, sweatpants were your uniform. Do you feel the urge to revert back when you visit?
LW: There’s no reverting back — I’m a sweatpants girl. I don’t think that was so much a Pennsylvania thing as it was a generational thing. I sound so old now, but we live right across from one of the hottest clubs in Manhattan. I see these girls lined up to go in, and I’m like, “Oh my God, they look like professionals.” The kids today are just different. We were all sweatpants and flannel shirts and messy jeans.
EI: I completely missed the “teens in miniskirts and four-inch heels” era.
LW: Right? Now, that’s a Tuesday night for casual neighborhood dining. It’s a-mazing.
EI: There was a period of time when your friends knew not to introduce you to people as the Devil Wears Prada author. Are you going to hang up on me if I mention it?
LW: [laughs] Not at all! It’s something I’ll hear about for the rest of my life. And I hope it is, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. First book, had no warning, and it just blew up. And then a movie that does hundreds of millions of dollars abroad. I mean, when does that ever happen? When people 10 years later are still asking questions about Anna Wintour, you kinda want to roll your eyes. But it’s the coolest thing ever.
EI: Prepare to eye-roll. Do Anna’s minions have permission to shoot on sight if they encounter you?
LW: Oh my God, I honestly don’t think they could pick me out of a crowd of two people. I don’t think anyone cares anymore. I’m not sure they ever did. I don’t think anyone is gunning for me. [laughs].
EI: But you’re not friending each other on Facebook.
LW: [laughs] No. Although I might be doing that 30 seconds after we hang up.
EI: Any Prada-esque tales from the movie set? Meryl throwing a tantrum? Anne Hathaway giving you the cold shoulder because she’s a movie star and you’re a keyboard monkey?
LW: Wouldn’t that be great? There weren’t! They let me tag along all the time. Someone told me early on that if you just smile and say everything’s amazing and it’s exactly how you envisioned it, they love having writers around. So I did that — and it happened to be true.
EI: Was it tough going from tall, attractive peon in the publishing industry to tall, attractive, rich, married, best-selling author? Did you hear it from the haters?
LW: You’re so sweet. Just say it again and again. The haters came out with the Devil Wears Prada and the idea that I hadn’t paid my dues. Since then, I haven’t really felt that, but I don’t read any of that stuff anymore. There’s more interesting things going on, as far as reading about people. That’s what we have US Weekly for.
EI: Your new novel is partly about overnight fame and its toll. How much of your own experience is in there?
LW: The husband character, Julian, becomes a complete overnight international superstar. A totally different level than having a popular book. The only thing I kind of took from my own experience is the shock of the press interest. People asking a lot of questions about you, and I couldn’t understand why they cared. But in the book, we’re talking can’t go anywhere because your fame is so overwhelming. And I’ve certainly never had anything like that. [laughs]
EI: No paparazzi camped outside your chamber?
LW: There actually were, a few months ago. They were taking pictures of every blond woman who walked out of my building because one of Tiger Woods’s girls lives here. That was really fun. All you had to do was put on a pair of sunglasses and walk out, and like 400 cameras would go off. I definitely did that multiple times a day.