Jan 15

Article courtesy the Daily Mail: Former Tory Party allies of Margaret Thatcher, and a host of political experts, have helped Meryl Streep prepare for her screen portrait of the former prime minister. Rehearsals begin at the end of next week and shooting begins early in February on The Iron Lady, in which the two-time Oscar­winning star will portray one of this country’s most famous leaders. The film will show Lady Thatcher reflecting on her life and the ­triumphs – and defeats – of her career, with her husband Denis, in ghostly form, guiding her. The Falklands War will be one of many major events tackled in the film, which is being directed by Phyllida Lloyd, who worked with Streep in the phenomenally ­successful screen version of the musical Mamma Mia! The actress has made several flying visits to London to view video footage of Lady Thatcher and to listen to her speeches. And she has been briefed by what producers Damian Jones and ­executives at Pathe Films described as ‘a variety of people with ­political insight, who know her (Thatcher’s) world’.

I understand the list includes one of Lady Thatcher’s former Cabinet ministers, plus a couple of former advisers and political writers, but producers are refusing to divulge any names – for now. Unsurprisingly, I’m told Streep’s preparation has been meticulous. ‘It’s going to be a portrait, not an impersonation, although Meryl has worked tirelessly on the prime minister’s speech pattern and delivery,’ someone working on the creative side of the film told me. Casting is now almost complete. Jim Broadbent, as we know, will portray Denis, and Olivia Coleman will be daughter Carol (son Mark will not appear . . . he’ll be heard at the end of a phone, probably after he was found in the desert).

Politicians who appear in and out of Mrs Thatcher’s life will be played by Anthony Head (Geoffrey Howe), Angus Wright (John Nott), Richard E. Grant (Michael ­Heseltine) and Julian Wadham (Francis Pym). Roger Allam will play Thatcher’s image guru Gordon Reece, and Michael Pennington will portray Labour Party leader Michael Foot.

Dec 29

Actor Jim Broadbent has talked to New Magazine to promote Mike Leigh’s latest film “Another Year” – and also spoke about the upcoming “The Iron Lady”. Very exciting! The full article and interview can be read at the NYmag’s website. According to Broadbent, shooting of “The Iron Lady” will start on late January.

I think years ago a film about Thatcher was attempted, and they had a phone-in vote on a BBC morning news program: “Who do you think should play Margaret Thatcher?” And Meryl actually came out on top! I think it’s perceived that Thatcher needs a star, really, and she’s perfect casting in many ways. She’s got a good look, and she’ll absolutely do it in a brilliant way. She’s also got an interesting eye on the script: She can bring an outsider’s view on the story, so that it won’t become a lazy, parochial piece that Brits understand but where nobody else really knows what’s going on. She can ask the questions that foreign audiences will ask.

Dec 18

In a recent article with The Times, actor Richard E. Grant mentioned his involvement with the upcoming “The Iron Lady”. Shooting is stated to begin January 2011.

When I’m back from Africa I start filming The Iron Lady – I’m playing Michael Heseltine and Meryl Streep is playing Margaret Thatcher – and the good news is that it’s being made here in Britain.

Nov 27

Various British sources have reported on current funding news for “The Iron Lady”, sounding quite negative, most probably due to the original negative statements by the Daily Telegraph. According to the Guardian, the UK Film Council’s last large-scale donations has been to the forthcoming Margaret Thatcher biopic, The Iron Lady, which was awarded £1m in October. Some see the move as an 11th-hour snook cocked at the Conservatives who, if rumours surrounding the script are to believed, may not welcome the project. Tim Walker of the Daily Telegraph reports that Thatcher’s family were “appalled” by the sound of the film, which apparently involves the former prime minister reassessing her career with some regret after the death of her husband, Denis, and while she is suffering from dementia. “They think it sounds like some left-wing fantasy,” Walker quotes a friend of the family as saying. Pathé, who are producing the film, insist it will be made with “appropriate sensitivity”. Meryl Streep plays Thatcher, and will be reunited with her Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Lloyd. Jim Broadbent is Denis, while Olivia Colman takes on the role of their daughter, Carol. To be fair, these quotations were published some time back by the Telegraph, quoting “a friend of the family” at a state when the script was probably not seen by anyone except those who were working on it, so let’s see if the negative press will keep up on “The Iron Lady” once it goes into production in early 2011.

Nov 06

Some UT theater students got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Friday. They got acting tips from two-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep. Streep visited the Forty Acres at the invitation of the University’s department of theatre and dance. Streep says her best advice to students is to set priorities. “You have to get your life right before you can get your art going. At least for me, as an actor, the things that really have mattered most are peripheral to your awards or the parts I’ve played,” Streep said. She continued, “Really the goal of your life is to be a good human being, and the more you know about everything, a little bit of everything, the more you understand the world around you.” According to KVUE Austin News, Streep says in her next film she will portray former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Their website has a video report on the evening, which can be watched below.

Oct 15

The Daily Mail has the latest scoop on the upcoming Thatcher biopic “The Iron Lady”, and according to its author, Baz Bamigboye, Meryl has confirmed to her that she’s indeed going to play Miss Thatcher – he just doesn’t quote when and where she confirmed this: Oscar-winning Meryl Streep has confirmed she will play Margaret Thatcher in a major movie, although a British actress has been ­chosen to portray the former Prime Minister’s early years. Alexandra Roach, a recent ­graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, will play Mrs Thatcher in her 20s in The Iron Lady, which begins shooting in the middle of January – although Meryl will dominate much of the footage.

The two actresses will not only have to study Mrs Thatcher’s voice pattern, but also each other’s. They will do their own research, examining film footage and listening to radio broadcasts and tapes. It hasn’t been decided yet whether or not a dialect coach will be hired to teach the actresses how to capture Mrs Thatcher’s distinctive vocal signature, bearing in mind Meryl’s legendary skill with accents. However, even she may need an expert to help her navigate the period when Mrs Thatcher, on her rise to power, was ordered by her savvy PR master Gordon Reece to lower and soften her often strident voice. The film, based on a screenplay by Abi Morgan, will be directed by Phyllida Lloyd. It’s being produced by Damian Jones with Pathé and Film 4. Morgan’s screenplay reflects on Mrs Thatcher’s life in and out of power, criss-crossing time-zones, looking back on her glory years and her challenges.

Jim Broadbent will play her husband Denis, and he told me that he understood Denis would be a ghost – although that aspect of the screenplay may have changed by January. ‘His purpose would be to visit Margaret Thatcher now and go back over her life. I don’t know how they plan to make me ghostly, or whether some other dramatic device will be used,’ Broadbent, like Streep an Academy Award-winner, told me at a supper for Mike Leigh’s great new movie Another Year, in which he stars with Lesley ­Manville and Ruth Sheen. Reports that The Iron Lady focuses solely on Mrs Thatcher and the Falklands War are wide of the mark. Ms Roach has appeared in The IT Crowd, a forthcoming BBC show called Candy Cabs and she plays one of the leads in ITV’s adaptation of Kate Summerscale’s best-selling novel The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher. Olivia Colman, famous for her roles in Peep Show, Beautiful People and the recent Tom ­Hollander hit Rev, has been cast to play Carol Thatcher.

Aug 08

The Daily Mail has posted a report on the ongoing controversy on how Margaret Thatcher will be portrayed in the upcoming film. Meryl is headlined by most sources at this time to be playing Thatcher. So far, as mentioned by the Daily Mail – she is “expected” to play Miss Thatcher. The complete article can be read here.

Jul 18

No final word so far if Meryl is indeed going to play Margaret Thatcher, although it sounds pretty much a done deal according to this article from the Telegraph: Although the prospect of Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher may have pleased some admirers of the Conservative former prime minister, her children have been horrified to discover more about the film. Mandrake hears that the screenplay of The Iron Lady depicts Baroness Thatcher as an elderly dementia-sufferer looking back on her career with sadness. She is shown talking to herself and unaware that her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher, has died.

“Sir Mark and Carol are appalled at what they have learnt about the film,” says a friend of the family. “They think it sounds like some Left-wing fantasy. They feel strongly about it, but will not speak publicly for fear of giving it more publicity.” Cameron McCracken, the managing director of the film-maker Pathé, confirms: “It is true that the film is set in the recent past and that Baroness Thatcher does look back on both the triumphs and the lows of her extraordinary career. “It is a film about power and the price that is paid for power. In that sense, it is the story of every person who has ever had to balance their private life with their public career.” He says Lady Thatcher’s health will be featured, but insists that it will be “treated with appropriate sensitivity”. He adds of the film: “Although fictional, it will be fair and accurate.”