MERYL STREEP HAS NOT BEEN AFRAID TO AGE IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA BUT HER LATEST ROLE MAY PROVE TO BE HER MOST CONFRONTING
Meryl Streep is playing her ugliest role yet in August: Osage County. The 64-year-old, threetime Oscar winner – who also has a record 17 nominations to her name – recently admitted in an interview she was initially reluctant to play Violet Weston, the bitchy, drugaddicted family matriarch with mouth cancer.
“When you’re a young actor, you think these roles will be so cool, to imagine what it’s like to be close to death and have your family hate you, but when you’re older and things happen to you, you bleed more easily and it costs more to go into that territory,’’ Streep told one interviewer.
A close friend caused her to change her mind.
“She said, ‘ You had a great mother who gave you your appetite for experience, your curiosity, your sense of humour. Your mother sang in the kitchen and mine hit me. Your mother made you feel you could do anything, while mine made me feel I couldn’t do anything.’
“She told me I had to do this movie for her and all the girls like her who had bad mothers, who made it in spite of that and to let the others know it’s OK to leave that behind. I realised it was worth risking everything to go to this territory where I would be loathed.’’
Streep, who has been married to sculptor Don Gummer for 35 years and has four children with him, says one of the most upsetting scenes was with Sam Shepard who plays her husband Beverly.
“To look at him close up and see his loathing of me was really hard,” she says. “You know, you get old, you look old, but you still think that maybe there’s this spark of love from this person who has gone through everything. But to look in his eyes and realise that he’d rather be dead than looking at me, ooh... that was brutal.”
Streep is on the record as saying she would never undergo plastic surgery to hold back the years and says she has always thought of herself as a character actor.
“Even when I was younger, I took on some things that were odd,” she says. As an example, she cites 1988’s Evil Angels, in which she played Lindy Chamberlain, who was accused of murdering her baby daughter Azaria after she claims a dingo stole her during a camping trip near Uluru.
“I’m interested in people’s lives and I like to investigate the truculent ones, the difficult ones,” she says.
Weston certainly boxes for Streep.
“As an actor, you want to go to the house of pain,” she says.
“On many levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually – she’s out of it and that’s why she’s drugged at any given time.”
August: Osange County is out now