Meryl streep gets her rock fantasy
The US actress plays rock and roll singer in new film Ricki And The Flash
With 19 Oscar nominations and three wins, Hollywood legend Meryl Streep has moved us,broken our hearts and made us sing along with her.
In Ricki And The Flash, the 66-year-old plays the titular rock and roll singer who abandons her family to pursue her dreams, then tries to find her way back to them when her estranged daughter (played by Streep's real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, 32) goes through a crisis.
She reunites with her Sophie's Choice co-star Kevin Kline who plays her ex-husband and director Jonathan Demme who directed her in The Manchurian Candidate. Her love interest is US musician Rick Springfield as her band's guitarist.
Ricki And The Flash is showing on Singtel TV Video on Demand.
We met at The Ritz-Carlton hotel to talk about the comedy-drama written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer's Body, Young Adult) and Streep is as down-to-earth and funny as ever as she answered questions about how she keeps going all these years.
What drew you to this role?
I love rock and roll, and I can't believe that at 65, I would be offered the lead in a rock and roll movie and to play a kind of failed wannabe star. But failed only by an outside measure, because she is someone who really loves her life and she loves playing and is making sort of a living and living the dream. So I was thrilled to have that little late-life fantasy fulfilment.
We have to talk about your hairdo in this film.
I had this idea of this very big, crazy hair, and swept to the side. And the hair guy said, you are going to need extra hair, and when you buy long hanks of hair, often they are braided in three braids. I went home and I put it up and fell in love with how it looked, because it swung around great.
How do you enjoy a successful marriage (to US sculptor Don Gummer since 1978) in an industry where that's not the norm?
I don't know (laugh). I feel very lucky. My husband himself was divorced. So everybody has a life and I don't think there's any prescription I could give for how to do it. I am just fortunate to have found a good man.
How did you manage your career when your four children were young?
If I had to be away for a movie, it would only be two weeks when they were younger.
I remember when we made Dancing At Lughnasa (1998), we got the same promise from the production company that it would only be two weeks. And two weeks turned to three and then we were headed into the fourth. Don had to bring all the kids over because I was spitting furious and it taught me that you get everything in writing and you make them sign. Because nobody cares and the goodwill is gone in the economics of movies now. But movies and television are in certain ways more accommodating - sometimes you are working and sometimes you are not. And so I have more time with my kids than a lot of people who have two weeks off every year and have a desk job.
Mamie mentioned she had gone through something similar to her character in terms of a break-up and divorce (from US actor Benjamin Walker in 2013). Did that bring the family together?
We are close as a family anyway. Mamie has something I never had when I was growing up and that's two sisters. I had two brothers and I love my brothers, but it's not the same.
To see it with these girls, they are so deep into each other's lives. Her two sisters were on either side of her and supporting her. Sometimes life throws you stuff that seems hard in the beginning but turns out to be the right thing. And I think that's true for Mamie. She's a strong girl and she has been acting and there are very few jobs where you can exercise your emotional interior life in a fictional way. And that's a very valuable thing.
How did Mamie come to be cast in the film?
Producer Marc Platt was the one who said, "I don't want to suggest this if this throws a monkey wrench into anything, but I just can't stop thinking about Mamie in this part".
And the minute he said that I thought that's what I had been thinking, and I think she's perfect for this and it's a fabulous part and I know she can knock it out of the park. So I was glad he came to it because I would never have suggested it if he hadn't said "This is what I want to do."
How was it working with Demme for the second time?
Jonathan doesn't give a lot of direction, but he did one weird thing, which was he requested that I not talk to Mamie during filming.
I thought that was odd, but other than that, it was fun. And he is very famous for making a family of the company... his daughter is in the film and Rick Springfield's son was our PA and Marc Platt's son (plays) the bartender, so he takes nepotism to a new level.