Meryl Streep on Why People "Should Be Afraid" of Trump
The acclaimed actress raved about 'A Star Is Born' and other awards hopefuls when she joined Stephen Colbert for the 'Late Show' host's annual Montclair Film fundraiser.
Meryl Streep is a three-time Oscar winner and considered by critics to be the greatest living actress.
But the current president has claimed he's not a fan.
After Streep criticized Trump during her Cecil B. DeMille acceptance speech at the 2017 Golden Globes for seemingly mocking a disabled reporter, the then-president-elect fired back that Streep's "one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood."
And Stephen Colbert wasted no time bringing up Trump's criticism when he introduced Streep earlier this month at his annual onstage conversation to raise money for Montclair Film, the New Jersey film festival organizer Colbert has long supported.
Calling the president's tweet, "perhaps the greatest honor she has ever been given," the Late Show host read the missive as he brought Streep to the stage.
The moment was far from the only time the pair talked about President Trump, with Streep later saying that she thinks "we should be afraid" of "his possibility." During the nearly two-hour discussion, Streep recalled her early days as an actress and memorable experiences on the stage and screen.
She teased her role in the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns and shared some of her favorite recent movie releases, raving about A Star Is Born and other awards hopefuls.
After Colbert asked Streep about empathizing with the characters she plays, he asked her, "What's it like for you to see somebody who is the President of the United States who is the top politician who is indifferent to the idea of empathy? I'm not sure he knows what you mean when you say it."
And Streep delivered a sobering assessment of Trump.
"I'm scared. I'm scared by him, by his possibility," she said. "And I do empathize with him. I can't imagine what his 3 a.m. is like. There's a gathering storm — everyone feels it, he feels it. His children are in jeopardy, and I feel that. I think, 'What if my children were in jeopardy?' I would do anything — anything — to get them out of trouble. So we should be afraid. That's what I think."
Streep also joked about Trump's campaign boasts when she mentioned that before she began acting professionally she considered taking the LSATs. She hadn't studied law but, as she said, "I had the best words! I know more … than the generals!"
Streep repeatedly stressed that she didn't set out to be a film or theater actress, and she said that part of what made her think she couldn't be a "film actor," was because "my nose was too big."
That led her to a tangent about A Star Is Born, as she and Colbert each ran a finger down their nose as Bradley Cooper's character does with Lady Gaga's Ally.
"I've just seen A Star Is Born, and I so related to that," Streep said. "It's so true."
Streep, who said "nobody but Gaga" could've played Ally in Cooper's directorial debut also raved about the actor's approach to helming a feature film.
"It's so breezily shot and it's so self-assured. It's not actorly shot. [Some] actors who make the transition to directing," she said, sighing, "they give the actors too much air. They don't cut as brutally as you need to in order to move the story. To them, the character is more interesting than the forward movement of the story, the narrative. The movie's the thing. You're helping but the movie has to keep going. And Bradley … he gave himself the stuff he needed and then he'd move off … kept it moving. He was on his own back a lot. I liked that. Made you in the thing. You were in the thing. Brilliant."
Beyond A Star is Born, Streep shared some of her other 2018 movie recommendations.
"There's one called The Rider that is just so shockingly good by … Chloe Zhao and she has somehow elicited performances from these Native American rodeo riders and people who've been severely injured in rodeo riding in Montana, and it's a picture of life in Montana that's incredible," Streep said, adding that the Gotham Awards' best feature winner is "as strong as" and reminds her of a Terrence Malick movie. "It's beautiful. … I also love First Reformed with Ethan Hawke — talk about the environment and despair and suicide and crisis. I'm making it sound dreadful, but it's so ambitious and it's so sincere and pure. It's a great movie. I really like Stan and Ollie."
And not missing an opportunity to plug her own work, she also recommended the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns, in which, Streep teased, she plays Poppins' "cousin."
"I'm very screwed up, a very screwed-up character," Streep said of her role as Topsy. "But she's very tolerant of me and she needs something from me so of course she's nice to me. It's fun. The movie is just great. I don't say this about all my movies, but this is not my movie, this is Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. This movie is so great; these children are beautiful; it's like a little tiny gift to America at Christmas."
All proceeds from the event benefit Montclair Film, the nonprofit that presents the annual Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey. Past editions of the Montclair Film benefit have featured Colbert in conversation with Jonathan Alter, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Steve Carell, J.J. Abrams, John Oliver and Samantha Bee. The 2019 edition of the Montclair Film Festival will run May 3-12.