An Italian Producer Once Called Meryl Streep An Ugly 'Pig.' Her Eloquent Response Is Everything.

This terrific 2008 animated interview of Meryl Streep by Christine Spines features a lot of terrific quotes by the amazing actress, including this one: "It's very humbling to imagine somebody else's real life and their pain. It's my drug."

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Meryl Streep: You're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but, Earl Blackwell, finally died. And I was on his blacklist every year for being the worst dressed person. [laughter}

Interviewer: Oh, is he some sort of like society columnist or something?

Meryl Streep: Blackwell's list every year is the worst dressed people in America. I was a regular on that list. Anyway.

The thing that was relentless for me here was how you look. I just couldn't put up with it. I mean, it just drove me crazy.

Interviewer: But you've chosen a whole career that is pretty concerned with that stuff.

Meryl Streep: It wasn't the career I chose! The career I chose was a drama major in college, where at Yale, when I played a 90-year old woman. You know, one of my most celebrated roles. And then I played a really fat person. I've played a lot of different things and that's how I thought I loved to wrangle my, whatever, my talent, my need to express myself. I like to do it that way. I never thought I was somebody that would be on the cover magazines in fashions. Wearing fashions! You know it's like, not me! But that is what movie stardom entails.
I always wore my own clothes a lot of the time: in interviews, in the marketing of the movie.

Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah. Are these your own clothes?

Meryl Streep: Actually, this is not. These are mine. These shoes are mine. But I missed... I got famous before you had to do all this stuff. I went up for King Kong. I remember that.

Interviewer: That would've been fun.

Meryl Streep: For Jessica Lang's part.

Do you know De Laurentiis? He was sitting there meeting all these girls, and I came in, and I had really tried to look nice. His son was sitting in the room, and Dino spoke to him in Italian, and I know Italian, I studied Italian. So he said, "Why do you send me this pig? This woman, she's so ugly. Brutta!".

Interviewer: Oh no!

Meryl Streep: So I looked at him and I said "Mi dispiace molto, ma."

Interviewer: What does that mean?

Meryl Streep: I said, "I'm very sorry that I disappoint you, but..."

Interviewer: Jesus Christ!

Meryl Streep: Because they are so used to treating girls like bimbos. Of course he would never imagine that a blonde person could speak Italian.
I found my knitting bag just last week. And in it was a half-finished sweater for a boyfriend long gone. And the knitting book, the knitting pattern which was in Women's Day magazine, 1967. And I looked through this magazine and I just couldn't believe it! I showed it to my daughters and they were screaming, because second page, big, big, big ad, 'Join the only profession where you can make as much as a man. Be an accountant'. Yeah. There was a column called 'What Men Say About Women', and the worst thing that a man can do to a woman, is to let her get on top. They ask us in so many ways not to let them, and if we don't, they're happier and we're happier.

Interviewer: Oh god.

Meryl Streep: It's just a really different world. It's hard to explain that to people.

You know, sometimes when you look out the window, you look at all the windows and inside every single one of them is somebody with a huge, weird, terrible problem. Some great jokes. There's a lot of lives worth embodying. I mean, it's very exhilarating to step into somebody else's shoes. It's very humbling to imagine somebody else's real life and their pain. It's my drug.
Well, I mean, I am in so much doubt. I am an actor.

Interviewer: But you're connecting with people so much right now.

Meryl Streep: That's a great thing!

Interviewer: Yeah.

Meryl Streep: Because I have a lot to say about the world, clearly.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Meryl Streep: And only I can't put together as you can see, a clear sentence about it all, but through the work, I can say what I think.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

Original by the PBS series "Blank on Blank," published on their YouTube channel.

Aug 28, 2014

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