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The Simply Streep Archives has gathered details on all of Meryl Streep's feature films, television, theatre and voice narration, and also features an extensive library of articles, photographs and video clips. You can browse the collection by Ms. Streep's career or through a year-by-year summary.
Reel Pieces: A Conversation with Meryl Streep

November 14, 2000 | New York, USA

Meryl Streep appeared in Reel Pieces with Annette Insdorf, a conversation series starting in the late 90s, which revisited past films by landmark directors and inviting collaborators. Streep attended the panel after a screening of Mike Nichols’ “Postcards from the Edge”.

I didn’t do very much homework for it, I’m afraid. I did take one illegal substance that I’ve never taken before. But that was an important part of the research. And I followed Carrie Fisher around for a while, and she and I became, and still are, very close friends.

Insdorf and Streep talked about “Postcards from the Edge” for a good half hour before the conversation turned to questions from the audience. The first audience member wanted to know if Streep did several takes for her dramatic scenes, for example the funeral scene in “Out of Africa”, and the recovery time it takes between takes, to which Streep replied, to laughter: “We did it about ten times. I thought three would have been enough, but noooo… my dear friend John Cazale was in “The Godfather” and told a tale about a scene when Marlon (Brando) has been shot in a hotel room. I’m not sure if this was John or a story about Al Pacino, but one of them was standing by the bed side and came into the room and saw Marlon in this state of (imitates pain), overcome, couldn’t help it. It was the rehearsal. And Marlon opened one eye and said ‘Save it for the close-up, kid”. It’s very hard to wrangle these emotions. Some you come with and it’s almost like God came with you to the set. You don’t know if he’s gonna show up, and sometimes… he doesn’t. To answer your question about that scene, yes we did it about ten times. We did it from across, and then a little bit closer, and then very close, and then mid-shot, which is what they actually used. And I had used everything up on the close-up. So you can’t ever know what’s gonna happen.

Streep denied naming three of her favorite current young actress because she said she admired everybody. “For a while, the task was to be beautiful. Period. There were exceptions. Anne Mangiani. Kim Stanley. Liv Ullman. I remember when I was an undergraduate in college – she will be thrilled to hear that – and I went to see her in “Cries and Whispers”, and then watched everything she did, because she was just unafraid, and it didn’t matter what it looked like. And there was no consciousness of it, so free and inspiring”. However, Streep praised Hilary Swank when her name was brought up. The third question – “to which extent do you allow to trust your director” – led the discussion to “Before and After” and director Barbet Schroeder’s approach to not have dialogue overlap, which was earlier discussed. “I trust the director with everything. Although I must say with Barbet Schroeder, I didn’t trust that process. I thought it was cracked and I didn’t understand it and I felt it was like blood-sucking. It was taking something important away from the life of the film. So probably I didn’t give myself into his hands in the way that I have with other directors”.