Being wealthy and privileged in Manhattan–or a wealthy and privileged kid in Manhattan–isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And being that rich kid’s nanny can be pretty miserable, too. That’s what we learned in the 2007 movie The Nanny Diaries, anyway.
From what I can tell, the best thing about it are the digs you get to live in. In the movie, Annie the Nanny works for Mr. and Mrs. X on the Upper East Side in their luxurious 12-room apartment. Production designer Mark Ricker (who also worked on The Help) designed the look of both it and the X family’s Nantucket beach house.
Let’s take a look at the apartment first, where the tone is set with the front hall by the elevator:
Rickman and and set decorator Andrew Baseman wanted the rooms to have an upper echelon, “old money” look, according to an article in Traditional Home: “The apartment had to feel traditional, comfortable, and inviting, but also look striking and modern, reflecting Mrs. X’s taste as a former manager of the Gagosian Art Gallery.”
Scarlett Johansson played Annie, or simply “Nanny,” as Mrs. X charmingly refers to her.
The Living Room:
It may look like a real apartment, but Production Designer Mark Ricker says it would have been way too expensive and difficult to film in one. Ceiling heights are too low for lighting and the neighbors wouldn’t have appreciated all the noise and activity of having a film shooting in their building. So the apartment was a film set built on a soundstage at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Mrs. X’s Bedroom:
The movie is based on the 2002 tell-all novel by former nannies Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. I read it when it first came out and thought it was pretty entertaining, but the ending was so sad that it kind of spoiled the fun.
The movie changed the novel’s ending to make it a happy one, with Mrs. X learning her lesson and (improbably) transforming into a hands-on mom.
I like this photo of Laura Linney all glammed up as Mrs. X in a red dress (from Traditional Home):
Mrs. X’s Closet:
The Guest Room, which Annie initially mistakes for hers:
The actual Nanny Quarters, which aren’t nearly as nice:
“The pleasures and challenges in designing The Nanny Diaries were tied hand-in-hand with the fact that it was based on an enormously popular book,” Ricker explains.
“Because there are extensive descriptions, readers have expectations of what the place will look like in the film. The set would be seen on film not just as a background for the action, but as a featured element that emphasizes the indulgent lifestyle and misery of these characters and the humor that results.”
The X Family’s House in Nantucket:
As nice as the apartment was, what I really loved was the family’s beach house. It was supposedly in Nantucket but was actually filmed in the Hamptons.
Annie makes breakfast for the family in the kitchen:
I just finished watching the John Adams miniseries, so I thought it was kind of funny to see that Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, who played John and Abigail Adams, had been cast as a totally different type of couple in The Nanny Diaries.
Annie shares a bedroom with her young charge Grayson while they’re at the beach house:
Rumor has it that after the book came out, reading like a tell-all memoir by the two former nannies, Harvey Weinstein offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who could tell him who Mrs. X was based on. The New York Post suggested that it could be Lisa Birnbach, co-author of The Preppy Handbook, who once employed one of the book’s writers, but they insist that it wasn’t based on any single person.
Mrs. X confronts Annie on the porch and fires her, leading to the gut-wrenching scene where Grayson chases after her, crying for his nanny to come back:
Were you a fan of this movie? Of the sets? To learn more, visit Traditional Home.