Dec 03
2011

Here’s a very interesting article by Variety on the reception of “The Iron Lady”: Two decades after Margaret Thatcher was ousted by her own Conservative Party, Blighty’s first woman prime minister remains an instantly recognizable global icon who still sparks sharply polarized passions, particularly in the U.K. That level of brand awareness should be a gift to the makers of “The Iron Lady.” But given the strength of feeling she evokes, the question is whether anyone, fan or foe, can bear to watch a movie about her. Damien Jones, producer of the $20 million film, knows from his own family just what a divisive figure Thatcher was. “One of my grandmothers thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. The other used to turn off the television whenever she came on,” he recalls. The media frenzy over the first glimpses of “The Iron Lady” confirms that Britain is as fiercely conflicted as ever between those who regard Thatcher as the greatest leader since Churchill, and those who think she did more damage to the country than anyone since Hitler. When Jones returned to England after living in America, he couldn’t understand why no one had made a film about such a towering personality. “Who else would you choose as one of the iconic figures of the 20th century?” he asks. “After Princess Diana and the Queen, there’s Mrs. Thatcher.” He wasn’t motivated by a specific interest in her politics so much as by a belief that she fitted the template of a marketable British star. “When I saw ‘The Queen’ and how everyone was lauding it, I thought maybe it’s time to try and bring this to fruition,” he says. Pathe, which backed “The Queen,” agreed, especially once the dream casting of Meryl Streep fell into place. The complete article can be read here.

Dec 02
2011

Article courtesy the Washington Post: In the flesh, she does not have an aura. She’s not lit from within. Heads do not snap in her direction when she walks through a hotel lobby in a baggy maxi-dress and brown calf-high boots, flanked by her dutiful makeup artist of 35 years and her imperious publicist — the few celebrity trappings of a woman who stubbornly considers herself a working actor, and nothing more. And yet for half of her 62 years she has been dubbed either the Greatest Film Actress of Her Generation or, now, the Greatest Living Film Actress. So how does Meryl Streep, working actor, advance her artistry when she has nothing left to prove, when everything she does seems beyond reproach? In a room off the lobby of the W hotel, she removes her glasses and hair clip and tosses both on a table. She is beautiful — as she has always been — in the remote, masky way a sculpture by Michelangelo is beautiful. Her presence in person feels like the absence of a character. And for this question, she must play the Greatest Living Film Actress. “I feel more worried because, you know, the expectations are so high,” she says, brushing out her blond-white hair into a mane. “I do work very hard. I think I’ve always been that type of girl, from the very beginning. I’m the oldest, and I feel like I have to do a good job. I have to try really really really really hard. I mean that could be my epitaph: She tried really hard.” The complete article can be read here.

Nov 28
2011

Man thanks to Alvaro for sending in scans from the January issue of the UK Empire magazine, they’re running a “Tory Story” on “The Iron Lady”. The most interesting part of this article is that the film still isn’t ready yet – the one shown to the press and at screenings for now was an unfinished version. I guess they’re getting the final stitches just in time for its release. Scans can be found in the image library.

“There’s a flicker board of events really in the ’80s,” says screenwriter Abi Morgan. “You have that decade where she did everything. She stood up against the miners, against the IRA, she led us to war, led us out of war, she kicked us in the nuts, then redeemed us… My memories were very much of the handbag and the beautiful blue suit and the sense of the contradiction of the time: that there was so much sexism around, yet the country was being led by a woman. That made her a very intriguing figur.” It helps if you have an icon to play an icon, and here The Iron Lady has a golden girl to play a true blue: Meryl Streep. “You need a superstar to play Thatcher. You need someone of extraordinary magnetismn and charisma,” insists Phyllida Lloyd, who also points to Streep’s presence as an American in a very English story as an asset when shooting. “Meryl was an outsider, just as Thatcher was.”

Nov 27
2011

Live Magazine, a supplement of the Daily Mail has published a wonderful article on the making of “The Iron Lady” with many quotes from all of the filmmakers, giving insight on their views on Thatcher and the making of the film. All this is accompanied by stunning new pictures. An excerpt is below, the article can be read on their website and in the magazines archive.

“I worked on the voice. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done. The really tricky part was that she studied how to produce her voice di.fferently, and sustain a certain amount of public speaking, and deepen her voice, enrich it, support it with breath. So I had to get the two di.fferent voices – the one that she began with, which is quite light and sort of trips along, and then (imitates Thatcher’s older voice) suddenly this sort of authority comes out. I listened to her speaking, mostly, rather than watching her on TV. Listening gives you the posture, everything. I would speak anything – poetry, other people’s speeches – just to have it be second nature, to think in that voice, like another language.”

“I saw Margaret Thatcher once, in 2001, when my daughter Mamie was at Northwestern University. She was on a lecture tour. We were up in the balcony in the cheap seats. She was beautiful, and that was a shock, because we all thought of her in America as sort of dowdy. But we are very snobby about our women in public o.ffice. She was going to lecture for an hour, and there would be 30 minutes, precisely, for a question-and-answer session. She spoke for the hour and then she took questions for an hour and a half. And as time went on, she became even more enlivened and focused, speaking in beautifully wrought paragraphs. She obviously loved the subject matter: statesmanship and America’s role in the world and the special relationship with Reagan, the end of the Cold War. She was extraordinarily controlled and impressive. My view of her as a woman changed during this process. I admire her achievement. I stand in awe of it, even while not agreeing with a lot of the policies. The fact that she got things done, even though many people didn’t like her, was extraordinary. She accepted the fire that came at her and took it. I hope she’ll see the film as an empathetic attempt to understand the size of what her life was, her place in history, what she did, and the human cost we ask our leaders to pay.”

Nov 26
2011

The January issue of Total Film, on newsstands now, features a stunning new image of Meryl as Thatcher and an article on her Oscar chances. You can find a scan in the gallery, alongside a single version of the new picture. Speaking of magazines, Empire Magazine‘s January issue (also on newsstands now) has a behind-the-scenes story on the making of the film: Leading off with Oscar’s perennial Meryl Streep, an actress who probably has her own parking space at the Kodak Theater, we’d hesitate to call this bit a ’round-up’ unless it’s little gold statues we’re rounding up. If anyone has scanned Empire, please let me know :-)

Nov 26
2011

Here comes a first interview on “The Iron Lady” courtesy the British Express: Meryl Streep is the most nominated Oscar actress in Hollywood history. But even she was humbled by her latest role, playing former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. “She is like a heroine from Shakespeare,” she says. “I have held her up as an example to my three daughters of what women can do to change the world.” Streep, 62, who plays Baroness Thatcher, now 86, from her 40s to virtually the present day in a remarkable performance, became entranced by her character. Yet she admits that she knew little or nothing of her life or political policies. “What interested me more was the cost of her own political decisions on her, as a human being,” she says. “The more I researched, the more fascinated I became. When you are a leader and the buck stops with you what does that do to you and how do you stay strong? “I also realised how her policies split the nation. Some thought she was great. Others detested her for those policies. It was such a lonely job, especially for a woman.” Streep was a controversial choice, as an American, to play our Iron Lady. But British director Phyllida Lloyd, who directed Streep three years ago in Mamma Mia! says it was obvious to her. “Margaret Thatcher is the most significant female leader this country has had since Elizabeth I,” she says. “So I wanted the world’s most significant actress to play her.” Streep, though, who has captured the Thatcher voice and renowned grooming to perfection according to many who have already seen the film, has clearly fallen for her subject. The complete article can be read here.

Nov 26
2011

Article courtesy The Hollywood Reporter: Former colleagues and admirers of Margaret Thatcher have mocked Streep’s portrayal of the former British prime minister, but Phyllida Lloyd is unfazed. Less than two months ahead of The Iron Lady’s U.K. release, Meryl Streep’s portrayal of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher is generating a growing furor among British conservatives bristling at what they consider an unflattering portrayal. Director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) is unfazed by the uproar. “People have been arguing about her [Thatcher] for months and months,” Lloyd tells THR. “She certainly burns brightly as a still very divisive character.” The movie, made for an estimated $13 million, has been penciled in for a Dec. 30 U.S. release by the Weinstein Co., bowing in exclusive runs in New York and Los Angeles before going wide Jan. 13. It is scheduled to hit U.K. screens Jan. 6 via Pathe’s distribution pact with 20th Century Fox. Much of the opposition to the drama comes from Tory stalwarts and former cabinet ministers who served under Thatcher. None has seen the film, but the movie’s trailer – which mixes elements of gentle comedy with scenes of Thatcher’s personal and political life – was enough to set them off. The complete article can be read here.

Nov 20
2011

Many thanks to Alvaro for sending in scans from Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar predictions, dishing on Meryl’s Best Actress chances and English accent.

Nov 18
2011

Article courtesy The Washington Post: Meryl Streep, sitting in a hotel conference room and later at a podium at the Ronald Reagan Building, says her personal history has led her to join the effort to establish a National Women’s History Museum. “My grandmother had three children and she couldn’t vote in the school board election. She gave my grandfather the piece of paper with her choices,” Streep related. Personal stories, unknown bravery, everyday life and the epic personalities should all be part of a building, she argued,in a honeyed voice so familiar after 35 years. “We need a museum. By their monumentality, they claim a place in your heart,” she said, gesturing at some large place in the air, now invisible. She has found local stories, with universal messages. Near her home is a house where Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, who sued for her freedom, worked for the Ashley family and was abused by the wife. “She heard the discussion about ‘everyman is born free.’ And she was serving tea and stoking the fire,” said Streep. Freeman’s sister was attacked by Mrs. Ashley, but Freeman stepped in front to take the blow from the fireplace shovel. “She was burned on her arm,” said Streep, pushing up her sleeve for emphasis. “But just as interesting is the story of her mistress. If you look at it, both were unpaid workers.”

Continue Reading

Oct 28
2011

While scans from the Vanity Fair article “Maggie Mia” have been posted already (see here), their website has now published the article as well, with a better quality version of the stunning promotional picture you’ll find below.

Is the world dying for a Margaret Thatcher biopic? Probably no more than it’s dying for Harold Wilson or John Major biopics, the dramatic possibilities of the Falklands War notwithstanding. But wait. A Margaret Thatcher biopic starring Meryl Streep? That’s P.M.-tainment! How she wrested the part from one Dame or another remains a mystery whose solution is known only to the actress and her director; we’re just thrilled she got her mitts on it. (And now America is finally even for Vivien Leigh playing Scarlett O’Hara.) Did we mention that we love Meryl Streep? Love-love-LOVE her? That there’s literally no other performer we’d rather see on-screen? Even Jessica Alba? Streep, over the last decade, has evolved from being the Greatest Actress of Her Generation to also being the slyest and wittiest and lightest afoot, ventilating the von Sydow heaviness of her younger roles with a bit of Astaire fresh air. Limited footage available from The Iron Lady suggests Streep’s Thatcher will fit somewhere between the poles of her Julia Child and her Miranda Priestly—a Tory leader who can debone Labour M.P.’s as if they were whole chickens, or stiffen wobbly American presidents with a witheringly arched eyebrow, and yet never lose sight of her inner Python housewife. The director is Phyllida Lloyd, who three years ago put Streep at the center of the 21st century’s finest movie musical: Mamma Mia! (Seriously. You can have Chicago and Dream Girls, though we’ll keep Hairspray too.) Along for the ride, Jim Broadbent will risk being ahistorically interesting as Denis Thatcher. Did we mention that we love Meryl Streep?