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Meryl Streep: what amazed me about Margaret Thatcher

John Hiscock Telegraph 12/09/2011 19:10
Meryl Streep: what amazed me about Margaret Thatcher - Meryl Streep - movie - entertainment

Portraying the former prime minister in The Iron Lady was a gruelling – and revelatory – experience, Meryl Streep tells John Hiscock .

'Am I an Iron Lady? No, I’m an ironing lady.” Meryl Streep is joking, but there are certain traits she believes she shares with the younger Margaret Thatcher, whom she portrays so brilliantly in the new film The Iron Lady. “I guess I’m as passionate about my work as she was, and, like her, I don’t want what I’m trying to do to be misconstrued,” she says. “But I was not thrilled with her policies or her politics because my friends and I were all playing for the other team.”

Consequently, she had to think long and hard when Phyllida Lloyd, who had directed her in Mamma Mia!, came to her with the script for The Iron Lady. Also, she felt sure there would be grumbles about an American actress being cast in a quintessentially British role when England has so many accomplished actresses.

“We talked about it a lot,” she says. “Phyllida said she thought I was perfect to play the part because I was an outsider, and Margaret Thatcher was an outsider in her world and in her party. She was always where she didn’t belong or wasn’t wanted.”

Lloyd knew it was a controversial casting decision. “But I felt it was critical to have Meryl,” she said. “Margaret Thatcher was a charismatic, iconic figure on the national and international stages, and to portray her we needed Meryl’s stature.”

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