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24.10.2016 Meryl Streep on the US presidential election, Hillary Clinton and ageism in Hollywood

29th Tokyo Film Festival, Press Conference-24/10/16
29th Tokyo Film Festival, Press Conference-24/10/16
Meryl Streep might be one of, if not the greatest living actresses, but that’s not the reason why the world loves her.
It’s not because she is the actress with the most Oscar nominations in history, with an astonishing 19 nominations and three wins: Kramer vs Kramer (1979), Sophie’s Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011).

And it’s also not because she’s truly a method actor. “I did try to learn how to sing these arias properly, so I got a very good, true opera coach and he taught me the arias correctly,” she said at the Florence Foster Jenkins press conference at the 2016 Tokyo International Film Festival on Monday (Oct 24), to playing the titular real-life New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer despite having a terrible voice. “Then the last two weeks of the two-month preparation, we just screwed around with them.”

It’s simply because we can always count on 67-year-old to tell it like it is.

“I’m very proud to be here (in Tokyo) representing Florence Foster Jenkins,” she said to Channel News Asia and other regional media. “I bring greetings from (director) Stephen Frears, (co-stars) Hugh Grant and Simon Heilberg, all of whom are very busy working. But I’m currently unemployed, so I was available to come, and I’m very happy to be here,” she quipped.

Indeed, it is Streep's wry sense of humour - that's used to calling out just about anyone and anything - that has cemented her as one of the most respected and beloved actresses in the business, not forgetting her ardent campaign as well, for women getting equal treatment in Hollywood.

Having consistently helped raise awareness of gender imbalance, the lack of strong female characters and ageism in the film industry, what’s the reality of the issue in Hollywood? And what made her decide to take on a role like the eccentric and indefatigable Florence Foster Jenkins?

“I don’t think there’s ever been a film in American film history that had as its leading person a 70-year-old character. So I was playing someone much older than myself. And somehow, I pulled it off,” she told Channel NewsAsia with a smile. “Yes, I think there has been ageism and all these so-called market-driven decisions."

“But I was 58 when I made Mama Mia! and that was the most popular film I’ve ever made!” she continued. "So I do think all these rules are being broken - and thank goodness! I think a lot of it is the fact that there are a lot more opportunities driven by television, especially the long-form narrative and serial television that we have now. It has been very good for women and proves that there has been an audience.”

Streep’s candour also extends to politics, which she has been vocal about, even going as far as donning a red tie, fat suit, disheveled hair and orange spray tan to play Donald Trump at the annual Shakespeare in the Park Public Theater Gala in New York City earlier this year. And she didn’t hold back her thoughts on Trump and the US presidential election.  

“It can’t come soon enough, this election,” she replied emphatically. “We’ve been very burdened by it.”

Openly supportive of America's first-ever female candidate, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, Streep professed to be very flattered to hear that the former US Secretary of State would like Streep to play her in a biopic.

“But I have to wait, because all her great achievements are ahead of her,” she finished off without missing a beat.

All that said, the one thing Streep isn’t acutely aware of: Her own talent.

When a reporter cheekily asked if Streep still manages to surprise herself when she watches her own performances, the acting doyenne happily dishes out credit to her co-stars.

“What I’m always surprised by when I first see a film I’ve made is how good everyone else is,” she said. “You’re in the vortex of the character you’re playing, and you can only see the world subjectively. But when you see the whole film, it’s always a surprise. I always like the first screening because you see the whole world through the director’s eyes.”

So if you’re wondering if there is really nothing left for the exceptional and acclaimed Meryl Streep to do, then think again.

“I would still like to be a singer,” she revealed about the one dream she would still like to pursue. “I’m not very good. But I keep trying.”

- CNA/gl
03.06.2017 15:24:06
kabby15
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