'The Post' Writers on Working With Meryl Streep: "She's Like a Heatseeking Missile With Scenes"

Courtesy of Niko Tavernise/Paraount Pictures
'The Post'

"We build an arc that's a rough sketch in pencil, and when she's through with it, it is a beautiful oil painting," says Josh Singer of the Oscar nominee as fellow scribe Liz Hannah notes the "deeper understanding" Streep brought to her portrayal of Katharine Graham.

Streep holds the record for acting Oscar nominations, with her work in Steven Spielberg’s The Post — playing Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham — marking her 21st nom. The co-screenwriters of The Post reveal what makes the 68-year-old star a dream collaborator.

Liz Hannah: I couldn’t ever imagine anybody else in this part. And every time I sat down to write it, I would be completely intimidated and terrified that Meryl would actually be doing it. What she brings to it is a deeper understanding of this character than anybody else, including all of the filmmakers involved. She lives this part so truthfully and with such empathy that she brings to every role.

Josh Singer: She’s not only the greatest actress — the greatest actor, I should say — of our times, she’s also probably one of the greatest dramaturges of our time. She’s like a heat-seeking missile with scenes. Sometimes it’s with lines and sometimes it’s performance, because Meryl doesn’t give you the obvious reading of any line, she doesn’t even give you the second most obvious reading of any line. She tends to give you the 15th most obvious read of any line. And so there were any number of times, it was like, does her performance here fit the arc? And then the first time I saw the cut, I started screaming at the screen because all those moments that I had questioned during the shooting turned out to be brilliant. We build an arc that’s a rough sketch in pencil, and when she’s through with it, it is a beautiful oil painting, a gorgeous work of art.

This story first appeared in a February standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.