On a rainy Saturday in New Jersey, Meryl Streep expressed her admiration for “A Star is Born” and “The Rider” as well as “First Reformed” and her aversion to the President of the United States.
The actress, who received her 21st Academy Award nomination earlier this year, confessed her likes and dislikes during Montclair Film Festival’s annual “An Evening with Stephen Colbert” fundraiser held at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
“I’m scared by (Trump),” she told Colbert in front of an audience of 2,800. “By his possibility. I empathize with him. I can’t imagine what his 3 a.m. is like. There is a gathering storm. Everybody feels it. He feels it. His children are in jeopardy and I feel that. I think, what if my children were jeopardy? I would do anything. Anything! To get them out of trouble. So we should be afraid.”
When introducing Streep, who was raised in New Jersey, Colbert also referenced Trump.
“She has been called the greatest living actor of our generation,” the comedian said. “But I think perhaps the greatest honor she has ever been given was when she was called (in Trump’s voice): ‘One of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood.’ Please welcome Meryl Streep!”
Colbert, a Montclair resident, has long been a booster of the Montclair Film Festival; his wife, Evelyn Colbert, is board president of the festival, which is heading into its eighth year in May. In the past, the annual benefit has featured “The Late Show” host in conversation with Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, J.J. Abrams, John Oliver and Samantha Bee.
“This is one of my favorite nights of the year,” Colbert said. “When my wife said to me, ‘Do you think we can get Meryl Streep here this year,’ I said ‘No, I can’t get Meryl Streep!’ And then I emailed Meryl. Ten minutes later (she wrote back) that she ‘would love to come back to New Jersey!’”
While discussing her early career, the thesp said that she never dreamed of being a movie star because “my nose was too big.” That led to a conversation about Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born.”
“You could’ve played that part!” declared Colbert, referencing Lady Gaga’s role in the film.
“Oh honey, no. No way…nobody but Gaga!” said Streep, who went on to sing Cooper’s praises.
“It’s so breezily shot,” she said of the film. “It’s not actor shot. [Some] actors who direct 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 narrative. But Bradley kept it moving. [It’s] brilliant.”
Streep went on to recommend Chloé Zhao’s “The Rider,” Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” — and “Mary Poppins Returns!”
“The movie is just great,” she said. “I don’t say this about all my movies, but this is not my movie, this is Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s movie. It’s like a little tiny gift to America at Christmas.”
As for her famous reaction to Patricia Arquette’s 2015 Oscar acceptance speech calling for women’s pay equity, Streep said that she was thinking about waitresses.
“There is no other job in the country, you can pay somebody $2 an hour, except waitresses,” she said. “That’s right, it’s legal.”
Streep also reminisced about losing the 1985 role of Patsy Cline in “Sweet Dreams” to Jessica Lange.
“Jessica did it better than any human being could possibly have done it,” Streep said. “But I was pissed off [when I didn’t get the part].”
Streep said that she wasn’t cast in part due to her looks. When asked by an audience member how she overcame criticism involving her appearance, the actress said, “The greatest gift in my career was not being cast as bombshell early in my career — even though I was one — because I could be a character actor.”