I don't usually get nervous before interviewing people, but I was very nervous before meeting Meryl Streep this week. The reason is not that she is formidable - although she plays some very formidable characters. She was in London to promote her role as the witch in Into the Woods - but the witch character is a pussycat compared to Streep's role as the matriarch in August: Osage County. She also played Mrs Thatcher in The Iron Lady but -- as she reminded me -- she was also in Mamma Mia. The thing that made me nervous was that as a fan I have admired her from afar for so long and I was worried that maybe, just maybe, up close she would not be what I had admired. Years ago, in one of the worst interviews I ever conducted, I met Catherine Deneuve and before the interview I was full of admiration for her. After the interview? Well, let's just say that I have met less petulant 3 year olds. And so I waited for Meryl Streep in our film location in central London hoping that she would be all that I ever thought she was: extremely smart, witty, talented. She was all of the above, and also funny, self-deprecating, plugged in to the wider world beyond Hollywood. The interview will be aired on the BBC this week, but after we stopped recording I mentioned to her that however scary her role as the witch was supposed to be, it was nowhere near as terrifying as the matriarch in the Osage County movie. "Scared me too," she said, and she meant it. And what makes Meryl Streep nervous? Well, on Day One of shooting Into the Woods she was as she put it "first up" when it came to recording her songs, written by Steven Sondheim. She entered the recording studio and discovered that sitting in the gallery was ... Steven Sondheim.
Thursday, 8 January 2015