In a recent interview with The Inquirer, which was conducted at the New York press conference of “The Iron Lady”, Meryl Streep talks about the new film and how much portraying Margaret Thatcher has changed her opinion. She has also confirmed that “Mommy & Me” is indeed going to happen, as Tina Fey is currently writing the script. An excerpt of the interview can be read below, the full piece is here. “Margaret Thatcher was the head of the United Kingdom for 11 and a half years and she did not have a cook. I have a cook. The last movie that I stopped making dinner was “Sophie’s Choice.” That was a long ago. Now I’m back cooking because everybody’s grown up. I imagine that Margaret Thatcher wanted to make dinner for Denis every night. Even when it was take-out from Marks & Spencer, they would sit down and have it together. She forgot to eat a lot. That’s something I have never done. She had prodigious amounts of energy and worked late into the night. She required all the cabinet ministers to be up there in the apartment with her. She’d work and work and Denis would come in and say, “Woman, you got to feed these men.” She’d go in and whip up some horrible rarebit or something and give it to them. All that surprised me”.
When people say Meryl Streep is a great actress, they mean grand actress — one who calculates her moves, her makeup and her accent, and then turns up the thespic volume until her character risks becoming caricature. The tactic works when she plays Dragon Lady roles like the fashion doyenne in The Devil Wears Prada, less so in the more naturalistic settings of Mamma Mia! and Doubt. But given a famous woman to play, Streep eerily locates the voice, face and soul: of Julia Child in Julie & Julia and, with startling acuity, of Margaret Thatcher in this biopic. Smartly written by Abi Morgan (who co-wrote Shame) and directed by Mamma Mia!’s Phyllida Lloyd, the film spans nearly the complete life of Britain’s first female Prime Minister, from her youth as a greengrocer’s daughter through Oxford and her early years in the Conservative Party (when she is played by Alexandra Roach). Streep takes over in Maggie’s middle age and escorts the PM into a restless retirement, both haunted and warmed by the specter of her late husband Dennis (a marvelous Jim Broadbent). Her performance is a miracle of inhabiting, not editorializing; it turns the boss of 10 Downing Street into a woman meriting our sympathy and sadness. This time, grand is great. Full list and more articles on the Time website.
Scans from the November 27 issue of the British Live Magazine have been added to the image library. Many many thanks to Alvaro for guiding the magazine to me. Enjoy! Additionally, you can find a transcript of the article in the magazines archive.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
|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 :-)|