In a candid chat, Meryl Streep talks about losing her mind, the common point between her and Lady Margaret Thatcher and her love for Bollywood cinema.
In Pic: Meryl Streep as Lady Margaret Thatcher
In a recent speech you said, you were always destined to play the Iron Lady because - like Margaret Thatcher - you had strong Lincolnshire roots. What are the other things that you find common with her?
I'd been nervous about playing a British person from the start - let alone someone as formidable as Lady Thatcher - but Phyllida (Lloyd, director) put it into perspective for me. She told me - 'You are perfect for the part, simply because you are an outsider in Britain, and Margaret Thatcher was an outsider in her own political party. The turning point of Thatcher's life in terms of her decision to go into a career in politics is comparable to the turning point in my own life when I decided to go into a career in acting.
Please throw some light on how you prepared for the role? Have you got a chance to meet Margaret Thatcher in person?
I have never met Lady Thatcher, but I did see her once at my daughter's university, Northwest, in the US about 10 years ago, when she delivered a lecture, and that made an indelible impression on me. Preparing for this role was rather challenging indeed and highly emotional, too. This is a woman familiar the world over, and portraying her on screen, especially when her health is failing, requires both accuracy and sensitivity.
I would listen to speeches and interviews given by Mrs T at various stages of her life and that helped me immensely.
With The Iron Lady, you have bagged your 17th Oscar nomination. What does having one more Oscar nomination mean to you?
My last Oscar win was for Sophie's Choice 29 years ago, so winning this year would definitely mean a lot.
You lost your shoe at the BAFTA Awards and your glasses at Golden Globes this year and ended up winning at both. Do you see any connection? What you wouldn't mind losing at the Oscars to win the award.
It is pretty embarrassing having such mishaps on such a stage I really don't intend on losing anything else, henceforth (laughs). But I would really lose my mind being overwhelmed with joy if I win the Oscars.
Of all the nominated best actresses this year, whose performance has impressed you the most?
I would say all were brilliant in their roles, however someone who impressed me the most was Michelle Williams for her role in My Week With Marilyn. The young lady is remarkable as Marilyn Monroe.
Do you still have your moments of nervousness as an actor?
Yes, of course. Every role is different and poses its own challenges therefore nervousness is palpable. In fact I was rather nervous when I first walked on the sets for this movie as I would be playing the British lady.
You have never visited India. Why? Any plans to visit soon?
India is a beautiful country and I've heard so much about it. I have been meaning to visit India for a very long time now and I sincerely hope I get the opportunity to do so in the near future.
Do you know of Bollywood movies or actors? Have you watched any Bollywood film?
Oh I love Bollywood! It is a huge industry that produces several remarkable films every year. I'm also a fan of Bollywood dancing.
If you had to reprise someone from the Indian history, who would it be?
I am not aware much about Indian history but I would be proud to reprise an Indian female revolutionist.
* This interview with Meryl Streep took place before the Academy Awards.