Meryl Streep has nothing to fear but herself
By CINDY PEARLMAN August 2, 2012 5:18PM
2012 Women In Film Crystal + Lucy Awards - Inside
Updated: September 6, 2012 6:06AM
The greatest living film actress of her generation just can’t do it.
Meryl Streep is talking about what makes her shake in high heels.
Did she get anxious doing awkward middle-aged love scenes with Tommy Lee Jones for their new movie “Hope Springs?”
“Love scenes at my age? Those don’t bother me a bit,” says Streep, who adds, “A scene is a scene. It’s either honest or it’s not.”
So what gives her the jitters?
“The only time I ever get nervous in life is making a speech as myself,” she admits. “Just don’t get me up to a podium and ask me to be … me!”
“Hope Springs” (opening Friday) is about a long marriage that’s on the rocks.
Arnold (Jones) isn’t exactly a dream hubby. He’s a dismissive, cheap, bullying accountant married to the long-suffering Kay (Streep). She spends the bulk of her time lamenting their lackluster, sexless, loveless lives. Their kids are grown and a suffocating boredom has set in.
Kay gives him an ultimatum: High-tail it to Maine for intense marriage counseling with a love guru (Steve Carell), or she might pull the plug on the entire union.
At age 63 and married since 1978 to sculptor Donald Gummer, Streep knows a few things about making a marriage last.
“The film is about life. It’s about how you can live with someone for a long time and ignore that problems are setting in,” Streep says, relaxing with a cup of coffee.
“I think ignoring creates a peril in your own home.”
She says it’s always worth it to give your romantic life an overall.
“The bigger issue this film addresses is you only get one life,” Streep says. “It’s so worth it to keep the romance alive in that life. It’s worth it even if it’s tough because you can only get there by being completely open with your partner.
“Opening up is really hard and painful. At the same time, it’s very rewarding. Even in a committed marriage, you can lose each other.”
They do lose their sex life. He’s not interested; she has always been too afraid to be adventurous.
“It does amaze me that this film showed people who are actually middle aged having love scenes,” Streep says. “European films have always been more interested in showing people of all ages engaging in life including having sex, which is beautiful to me.”
Equally beautiful to her was working with Jones.
“It surprised me how quickly I felt married to him,” she marvels. “Quickly, I felt comfortable, which is a stupid word for what I’m really talking about, which is trust.”
He returns the compliment.
“Nothing surprised me about Meryl Streep. Nothing at all,” Jones states in his trademark matter-of-fact voice. “I expected her to be very intelligent, very bright and very quick in every shot.
“I knew each day would be a miracle and she didn’t disappoint.”
She won her third Oscar earlier this year for playing Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”
“I remember winning the first time [for ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ in 1980] and looking around the room. It was a bank of strange faces and all these famous people,” she says. “I never even imagined that I’d be in their company as someone who truly belonged.
“Then this year I looked out into that audience and it was my town. It was a community of friends. It was such a different feeling for me.”
Her next role is based on a Steppenwolf play. She’s playing Violet Weston in “August: Osage County,” due out in 2013 and co-starring Julia Roberts and Juliette Lewis.
The film is based on the Tracy Letts play about a family facing their differences when their alcoholic patriarch disappears.
“I’m playing a woman who is a chain-smoking pill addict who has mouth cancer,” she says in a delighted voice. “It’s set in a house in Oklahoma with all the shades drawn and the windows sealed up tight.”
Ask her about how she feels about a proposed “The Devil Wears Prada” sequel and she just sighs. A follow-up novel is in the works, and a movie might not be far behind.
Would she want to give the evil Miranda Priestly eye again?
“It exhausts me to think about it,” Streep admits. “I’m talking about the diet and exercise routine to play that character. Exhausting.”
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