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The Iron Lady Q&A at DGA Theater

December 06, 2011 | New York, USA

Following an advance screening of “The Iron Lady,” Meryl Streep participated in a live online Q&A session alongside director Phyllida Lloyd. Hosted by Scott Feinberg, the event took place on December 6th at the DGA Theater. Feinberg later wrote on The Hollywood Reporter: “On Tuesday night, I had the great privilege and pleasure of moderating a Q&A in New York with the actress Meryl Streep and director Phyllida Lloyd following a SAG screening of The Iron Lady, their new film about select moments in the life and career of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. The chance to moderate any Q&A with Streep, in particular, is inherently special, but what made this one even more so than usual was the unusual source of the questions.”

“Three days in the life of a little old lady who just happens to be the person who was the longest-serving prime minister in the 20th century and the only female in the western world to rule a nuclear country”, Streep said. “I mean, pretty interesting stuff, to look at a life in its ebbing and in its diminishment… Our movie is about her history through her eyes. Her regrets may not have been political regrets, and her sadness might not have been triggered by entirely political things… We took things from three days of a life — things that would be called up from a fire on a television, an explosion. What memory would that trigger? A son calling and saying he’s not gonna make it again up to see her. What memories would that trigger about lost sons? It’s imagining Margaret Thatcher as a human being, which is very, very hard for some people.” We had 14 million dollars to make this movie which takes place in, like, a million different eras, and no time — I think I worked, like, nine weeks. And makeup that took a lot of time. Usually they give you four months to make a movie that had that sort of a requirement.”

There are so many secrets in many lives that we’ve already decided we know everything about… you don’t know everything, and why we’re alive is to learn more… And I really like to portray prickly people, or people that are just, sort of, ‘difficult women,’ on a certain level… also I went to high school when there were no girls sports… this really appealed to every feminist bone in my body… Also I’ve always been interested in old ladies… You have the old man that you’re gonna be right here with you right now – you do – and I have the old woman I’m gonna be.”

On the rather negative reception of the film before its release, Lloyd said, “People are angry about the film in England without having seen it… People started on the IMDB website – they started a year ago with, ‘Oh, this is a load of lefties, a load of liberals that are making it. It’s gonna drag her through the mire’… or ‘It’s got Hollywood behind it. It’s gonna be a whitewash job’… Then they began to forget the movie and just started tearing each other to bits.” Lloyd continued on being a woman director: “I didn’t really realize I was a woman director until I walked onto the set at Pinewood Studios when I did Mamma Mia! and everybody was calling each other ‘Governor’ and ‘Sir’… and then looking at me, ‘Well… good morning!” Streep followed up. “There definitely was a difference between that crew… and I think that’s seven years, maybe? You know, they’re getting more used to it… There was a definite difference in this crew.” Streep concluded on what she hopes people will leave the film thinking and doing differently: “I would like to think that everybody that got on a subway and saw some old lady sitting across from them – that they would imagine that a whole huge life lay behind all those wrinkles and that seemingly nondescript forgettable face. I mean, there is almost nothing less interesting in our consumerist society than an old lady. Dismissed. We don’t make movies for her, we don’t give a damn, we can’t sell her anything, she doesn’t buy anything. But just the idea that everything – the whole panoply of human experience: births, deaths, struggles, joy – everything’s in there. And just to imagine that. That’s what I would hope.”