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BERLIN — Meryl Streep was the prime minister of the Berlin International Film Festival on Tuesday, receiving almost as many Valentine’s Day presents as questions during a crowded press conference.
Streep, who is up for the Oscar for best actress for her portrayal of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, is in Berlin to receive the festival’s Honorary Golden Bear. She’ll then make her way back to the United States for Feb. 26 Academy Awards ceremony.
The actress, who has received 17 Academy Award acting nominations, more than any actor in history, won the Oscar best acting award once, 29 years ago for Sophie’s Choice. Last Sunday, following her Golden Globe win for Iron Lady, she won the BAFTA best actress award.
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At Tuesday’s press conference, several reporters jostling to ask questions had an ulterior motive–they simply wanted to laud Streep and even rush the podium to give her a present. A member of the Russian media brought her custom-made nesting dolls; the first was in her image, the second was her as Thatcher and the third, her as Amanda in The Devil Wears Prada.
Many of the questions that were asked dealt with Streep’s feelings about portraying Thatcher, who remains an incredibly polarizing figure.
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“She would have been kicking and screaming the entire way to the feminist altar, but she was a feminist, whether she likes it or not,” said Streep, explaining that the former British prime minister was incredibly “brave” for her time, even if filled with arrogance and hubris.
Streep said Thatcher, unlike the right-wing in America, was pro-choice and had no problem once deriding then-President Ronald Regan over a policy issue. Thatcher also recognized the dangers of global warming early on.
“A lot surprised me,” Streep said.
The actress said she discovered she had a lot in common with Thatcher, who is still alive. “We all have a lot more in common with Margaret Thatcher than we care to admit,” she said.
Asked whether she is nervous about the Oscars and her BAFTA and Globe wins, Streep said awards season is always an “out of body” experience. The Weinstein Co. is distributing Iron Lady in the U.S.
“Suddenly, you feel like you’re in a sporting event you didn’t sign up for,” she said. “You make a movie you believe in, and suddenly you are doing calisthenics for the Super Bowl.”
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