Meryl Streep defends ‘The Iron Lady’ & its depiction of aging Margaret Thatcher

Here’s some photos of Meryl Streep at the Paris premiere of The Iron Lady, for which she’s (naturally) been receiving rave reviews for her performance as Margaret Thatcher. Of course, the film itself has been generally less well received, particularly by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has stated that the movie really should have been postponed until “another day,” i.e., not while Thatcher is still alive. While Streep has already received a Golden Globe nomination, there’s still some animosity brewing over the film’s decision to portray Thatcher in later life as a frail old woman with dementia. So Meryl sat down with the Washington Post to defend the film’s stance as a portrait of Thatcher as a person instead of merely as a political figure:

On Her Decision To Play Thatcher: “It was extremely daunting, because I’m from New Jersey. And yet as an outsider, I felt something of what she might have felt.” Streep said her youthful experience as one of a handful of women at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire helped her understand Thatcher’s isolation. In 1970, Streep spent a term as an exchange student at the men-only college, which became coeducational in 1972. “There were 60 of us and 6,000 men, and I had a little flashback to that moment. And so a little bit of my emotional work was done for me.”

On The Movie’s View Of Thatcher Streep said while the film has been called a political biopic, “I was interested in it precisely because it wasn’t really that. It’s a subjective imagining. It’s not the God’s-eye-view chronicling this side, that side, the politics of it. It’s a very deep look at a whole life — from the end of it.”

On The Dementia Controversy: “If Margaret Thatcher suffered from a lung problem and I coughed, or if she had something wrong with her legs and I limped, no one would scream,” she said. “The particular stigma attached to mental frailty in our culture speaks more about the person who’s saying it’s shameful. Is it shameful? I don’t think it is. I don’t think things need to be hidden away.”

On The Venom Thatcher Provoked: “She was called the most hated woman in Britain because of policies that lots of people who are still in the political world helped her construct, and they don’t endure the same hatred,” Streep said. “She was hated for her hair and her handbag and her clothes and her manner and the fact that she changed her voice. It was really outsized, the bloodlust, and that’s interesting.”

[From Washington Post]

So will The Iron Lady result in another Oscar nomination for Streep and possibly a third Best Actress win as well? Only time will tell, but Streep will always stay classy and true to her characters. Certainly, she wouldn’t have taken on the role if she felt it portrayed Thatcher in a truly unflattering light. After all, we all grow old, and our bodies and minds betray us all in different ways. Margaret Thatcher is still merely human, and I think that’s what Meryl is getting at in this interview.

Here’s a few more photos of Meryl alongside Phyllida Lloyd at the premiere:

Photos courtesy of Fame

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25 Responses to “Meryl Streep defends ‘The Iron Lady’ & its depiction of aging Margaret Thatcher”

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  1. DarkEmpress says:

    Dear god!!! When will make up artists stop using red eye makeup to disguise bags?!

    I am going to see the movie.

  2. Maya says:

    Ankle boots?
    I don’t care for the criticism from the UK. The Guardian has practically had a fit about this movie (its reviewers) and it’s a great film.
    If Meryl doesn’t win the Oscar this year, I’m going to break a lot of things.

  3. Girl says:

    Very true what she is saying about the stigma surrounding mental illness. I don’t know if Margaret Thatcher actually has dementia (I just don’t know enough about her) but it’s sadly true that there is such a stigma attached.

  4. MaryJo says:

    Well, if it is a movie about Thatcher’s life, including her late years, it should depict the dementia. But if it is a movie about her political years, then the story should end way before.

  5. Micki says:

    I’m going to see this movie.

  6. Sophie says:

    See, I agree with her that if Thatcher does have dementia it shouldn’t have to be hidden away, but my problem with the film is that so little is known about her current state that it felt too made up, like they were putting words in her mouth that might not be true, and I don’t think that’s very fair to a sick woman, regardless of what you think of her time in office. Apparently sometimes she does think that her husband is still alive, but the way they portrayed it just seemed completely over the top. The parts of the film set in the present were the worst parts of the film I think. It would have been much better if they had just kept it historical.
    Meryl was OUTSTANDING though.

  7. Eva,UK says:

    To suggest that thatcher was hated for her hair and her handbag is ludicrous. She was hated for her extreme policies, which maybe as an American it is difficult to comprehend and I do not mean that in a derogatory sense. I mean it in the same sense as the idea of the government not offering free health care at the point of access is incomprehensible to most brits because what is the norm in America is markedly different to the uk. Many of her policies were actually based on America, which she viewed as the ultimate free Market. I know I am generalising here but I think many americans don’t understand the extent to which she was hated, or if they do they perhaps misunderstand the reasons why. Meryl’s comment being case in point.

  8. Eve says:

    So will The Iron Lady result in another Oscar nomination for Streep and possibly a third Best Actress win as well?

    A second Best Actress…she only has one Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role (the other one is for Best Actress in a Supporting Role — for Kramer vs. Kramer).

  9. Franny says:

    those shoes! has no one read a simple fashion magazine before? why why why wear shoes that cut off your legs in the most unflattering way (answer me, Pippa Middleton).

    I love her, but those half hooker boots have to go.

  10. jazz fabulous says:

    Margaret Thatcher was and is still the most widely hated woman in Britain. Oh, and she was a monster, too.

  11. meme says:

    You don’t have to defend a thing. You nailed the role!

  12. Boo says:

    This may be presumptuous, but isn’t it also possible that Brits are angry because an American played the role? Hated or not, MT was a British institution; for this movie to be made with an American actress seems to add insult to injury. Or maybe not. No idea.

    • Coucou says:

      @Boo, didn’t you read their replies above? For once, they don’t blame it on an American or Ms. Streep, they clearly put the blame on Thatcher, and apparently, they know what they’re talking about. Why stir up national bickering, just google Thatcher. Definitely got my attention. Hollywood is so f’d up.

  13. whatevs says:

    every year we get these oscar baity movies about foregone english rulers. elizabeth, the king’s speech, victoria, this, many more. at least the period drams have nice costumes and scenery. oh well i’ll see this because thatcher was a figure of great controversy during my childhood years.

  14. Deena says:

    Is Alzheimer’s dementia actually categorized as a “mental illness”?

    Isn’t it more of a functional brain disorder than a “mental illness”?