JULY 17, 2009 2:35PM

What would you ask Meryl Streep?

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I''ll be interviewing the screen legend for Salon in the very near future, and I thought I'd probably benefit from a little Open crowdsourcing. So I throw the question to you:

What would you ask Meryl Streep?

Thoughtful responses most appreciated! 

(Below: Streep as Julia Child in the trailer for next month's "Julie & Julia" -- which has some very excellent promotion for blogs on Salon.)


I frequently post Open Calls and Open recommendations  on Twitter. 

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meryl streep, movies, salon

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How cool, Kerry. I was feeling miffed that you haven't interviewed ME for OS yet, but now I forgive you - you were prepping for The Divine Miss Streep. My question: she always seems to be working despite the fact that there are, according to most sources, few good roles for women over 40. Are other actresses just whiners, unwilling to work in roles that don't focus on their youthful sexual allure?
I'd be interested to know whether or not she considered a singing career. She has a terrific voice.

And of course, who are her two or 3 favorite leading men whom she has acted with?
So strange you ask this! Because for years, I've wanted to send Meryl Streep asking her why she chose to wear fur in the Devil Wears Prada.

Here is a woman who's the leader in her profession, that so many people look up to, who does lots of activism work - she could have chosen NOT to wear fur and the directors undoubtedly would have respected her wish AND she could have an equally strong character. It made me lose respect for her frankly. She said it "wasn't her idea" but it was "fun and makes the point." Sigh.
I would ask her, after high school, when was it that she finally got over her hair. She will know what this means.
I would ask how long it takes before the character she portrays consumes her true self (or if it does at all). Her brilliance in acting just floors me.
If she couldn't be an actress, what would she be doing with her life?
Q for Meryl: How can you be so awesome? Why is it that everything you do is so awesome? Will you ever stop being so awesome? Because if so, can the NIH study some way to make sure that doesn't come to pass?
How did she manage, against all Hollywood odds, to combine a successful acting career with a 25 year marriage and 4 kids? So few in or outside of Hollywood manage to do that. Any insights the rest of us could use?
Will look forward to the interview. A few possible questions:
Who are her favorite actresses, stage and screen, past and present? Does she think she will be doing more stage work vs movies in the future? And why hasn't she portrayed more of the great theatrical roles?
Kerry, you are one lucky dude. Meryl Streep is one of the most versatile & talented actors alive today. My question would be:

"Ms. Streep, you have played so many memorable characters. If you could come back and live the life of any one of those characters, who would it be?"

- rated
If she had one chance to remake a film she was in, which one would she like to do again and what would she change?
What can women over forty do to convince Hollywood we want to see roles written for women over that do focus on things OTHER than looks and sex appeal? Women actually ARE interesting and complex people!

2. How can we convince them to stop remaking movies out of TV sitcoms that weren't that great in the first place?

I've stopped going to the movies in theaters very often because so much stupid schlock gets made that I don't want to pay $10.00 to see. Movie studios might improve their bottom line if they tapped into some of the movie making talent from people who would really like to get into the biz. Some originality and intelligence in movie making would be really welcome
I'd ask her what its like when she sees films like The Deer Hunter now. She was just starting her career when she was cast. Does she like her performance in that film? Was she nervous about working on such a heavyweight film? Did she know how important that movie would become? What are her memories of that process in particular?

(Really, I'd just like to know ANYTHING about that movie. It is my favorite film and the cast is so amazing! Please Kerry - something, anything, about The Deer Hunter!)
You'd have to approach this delicately--or maybe not--maybe it's not something she's sensitive about. But she's taken on a lot of roles that you wouldn't expect from someone of her stature, Bridges of Madison County, Mama Mia, Prime, Devil, etc. She's also taken some pretty small roles, Rendition. Is that because as older actress she can't be so picky? Or does she enjoy the challenges of constantly working at diverse roles. Does she think it makes her a better actress to take whatever is thrown at her. Or does she sometimes feel tempted to be more picky? Is it really a risk for a woman actress, no matter how good, to fall off the radar. Or does that attitude pay off when they give her a role like Julia Child, something that you might not normally think of her for.

And advice to young actresses. People always love that.
Deborah Young beat me to the punch. Her question about balancing work, marriage, and four children is exactly the question I would ask.
First, impress her with your research (or scare her with your stalker tendencies depending on how you look at it) by saying that you understand she grew up on Old Fort Road in Bernardsville New Jersey and ---as a graduate of Bernards High School---"When did she first know that she would grace the stage? Who were her early heroes?"

She had a drama teacher by the name of Dick Everhardt---who spent his last days being very proud of his star pupil.

BTW---can I hear a chorus of "Are we jealousing Kerry or what!"
How does she manage to stay so sane and graceful and classy in the chaotic world of Hollywood?
If she were a man, what actors would she have competed with for screen roles - and which roles?
These are really great! (Except for Farhad's -- snap out of it, fanboy!)
"If she were a man, what actors would she have competed with for screen roles - and which roles?"

That's what I want YOU to ask her. If it were me doing the asking, I'd blurt out something idiotic about Klaus Maria Brandauer's sexy mouth.
how did she feel about the loss of Raul Julia at such an early age? (to think he has been forgotten so quickly is a crime, and they did a lot of early stage work together.)

what's at the bottom of your sock drawer? (My god, they've already asked the poor woman everything else.)

Or, if you want to get serious: what do you think of fame, Miss. Streep?

(if all you do is guild the lily it will be another boring interview with M.S.)
Hmmmm. Tough.
Can I have your autogr . . . no.
Is it true what they say about . . . no.
Will you marry m .... no.
Either, who is the one person, actor, actress, or director, with whom you wish you had worked? or
What is the one role that you want to play?
Q-what is the most luscious, decadent, sexiest foods you were able to indulge in while filming Julie and Julia? Fave foods of all time? Fave foods to prepare for family? Most fun scenes to film during Julia? What did you learn about cooking during Julia that you are glad you know now, couldn't wait to try out on your hubby, etc.
oh, I adore Meryl. Always have, always will. Great actress, classy and funny person, no one ever says a bad word about her who's worked with her, long term marriage and cool kids. So many things to ask but here's one:

She gets called the greatest living film actress, a legend, etc. all the time now and a lot of people say they are in awe of her and act that way, too --- how does she handle that within herself and also when meeting and working with people? It seems like it could be a problem (a flattering problem, but nonetheless...) E.g., When she won an Emmy for playing multiple roles in Angels in America several years ago, she did a very funny acceptance speech which began, "There are times when even I think I'm overrated. But this is not one of them." She seems to use humor to deal with her "legend" status in public, but what about other times, either when she's at work or in how she sees herself? (How does she see herself?)

Also, strangely, all this adulation is coupled with getting nominated for tons of awards (including a record breaking number of Oscar noms) and yet she rarely wins anymore (hasn't won an Oscar in over 20 years). I wonder how she feels about that (I kinda doubt she'll answer that, it's so political a question, but it would be interesting if she did).
As her youngest, Louisa, just turned 18, what sort of empty nest syndrome/the end of an era pangs, if any, is she feeling?

Is she impatient for grandchildren, or is she looking forward to the respite of all her babies having flown?

Which roles that she's played have most influenced her perspectives on motherhood, and what has she learned differently, or how have her feelings evolved, as each of her children have moved on, about letting go?
Does she attribute her success more to choosing the right roles, or to making interesting interpretive choices with whatever roles she has played?
You are so lucky, Kerry! She is without doubt the best actress.

I would ask her in regards to "The Deer Hunter." Will she be working with DeNiro again?

Is she a fan of Julia Child's and has she ever attempted any of her recipes?

"Sophie's Choice" was a great film. How did she prepare for it?
One eve, several years ago, Meryl Streep was on Garrison Keiller's:` Prairie Home Companion - weekend radio Show/ and of course, Mr. Garrison K. wore red sneakers. Meryl Streep quoted several poems by Wendell Berry.

One poem she read was:` The Peace Of Wild Things. Wendell Berry.

Why did Meryl Streep choose Wendell Berry's poems. I agreed. I thoroughly enjoyed that radio evening. Can she read another poem?
Wow! You are so lucky! Meryl Streep is the premiere actress of our time, IMHO. Her range seems to be limitless. Her credits go on for ever. If I had the opportunity, I think I'd ask her what her favorite or funnest role was.
jane smithie. You bet I'll pass through Ya's town.
You can warm up a pot of red beet borsht soups.
I can bring raw organic cream for the beet soups.
Clear Spring Creamery has great dairy products.
Invite Kerry L. and especially Mrs. Meryl Streep.
What a merry day that would be. 3 merry people.
I like Farah's question and I second that.
Beth, that would be the coolest Open Call ever, The Awesomeness of The Deer Hunter: Discuss.
If she could have a dinner party with 5 people she really admired, living or dead, who would they be? I love that question.
What does she do/where does she go for entertainment/relaxation? What is her perfect evening?

Also, would love to hear her answers to the questions from OE Sheepdog and "Hello," she lied.

We'll all be looking forward to reading something brilliant, Kerry... no pressure...
How the hell did she recover after she made Sophie's Choice? And The Deer Hunter?

Has she been back to Africa since the filming of Out of Africa?

And does she stay in touch with Nora Ephron after making Heartburn? How was it making a film so close the the writer's heart?
She seems to really become her characters. I'd like to know if she uses The Method or how she goes about preparing for the roles. Also, are there roles she was offered that she didn't think she could pull off and turned down because of it?
If she got into a fight, and I mean a real clawing out hair punched in the teeth type of fight with Martha Stewart who would win?

And could she get me Jennifer Aniston's number? Surely the woman is tired of dating the rich, hansom, successful Hollywood types and is ready for a real change.
Meryl Streep is not conventionally beautiful. Does she think she would be allowed to succeed in today's film industry if she were just starting out now, given how it is dominated by the thin-but-frequently-wooden?
Meryl Streep is not conventionally beautiful. Does she think she would be allowed to succeed in today's film industry if she were just starting out now, given how it is dominated by the thin-but-frequently-wooden?
Working on stage/screen with your kids must be great. How great is it that Henry has one of his songs in J&J? (He's got a great voice!)

What's one thing you most enjoy about living in NYC and also in the country?

Would you return to the stage in a Broadway show or do you prefer to affiliate yourself with places such as The Public where productions are accessible to everyone?

Is there a character type that you have yet to portray and would like to challenge yourself with?

What's the next project for you?
Fun! It’d be interesting to know how she sees her career moving out into the future and what’s in store after the Nancy Meyers project she’s doing. Any work on Broadway upcoming – and when the hell will she be doing more Shakespeare in the Park???
With all the celebrity chefs and chef shows like "Top Chef" and "Iron Chef" what do you think Julia Child has to say to a culture that is obsessed with turning everything (including cooking) into a competition?

You've had such a storied career, and pretty much anyone who makes a list of great actresses of our generation puts you on it. Tell me about the things that keep you grounded, that demonstrate that really, you're just a human being like everyone else.
Kerry, I am so happy for you and the readers. Many asked questions related to "the Deer Hunter" I would love to see her talk about anything related to this masterpiece!!
I'd ask her what she likes to read - where she gets her news from. Has she ever read Open Salon, and would she be interested in blogging? (as herself or, well, Freaky Oscar-Winning Actress. We'd never guess!)
Ask her how she wants her children to remember her.
Um, who led/coached her to those crazy accents that ended up all sounding the same...

Just kidding she's a wonderful actress.

Considering that the tuition at her alma mater is now nearly $50,000 a year, does she think it's really worth it? Especially since so many current graduates are lucky to earn half of that a year if they are fortunate enough to have a job?

Do you sit there and think to yourself that you will become a certain character and concentrate really hard, and then you do? How does THAT really work? And while you are making a film do you turn that character on and off like a light switch? Is is harder to slip in and out of your character or to try to stay in that persona?

Have fun Kerry! Lucky you, but try to ask her some hardball stuff, we can read a people interview or a Good Housekeeping feature, but this is Salon and your audience is expecting and hoping for more than that.
Can we tag along? =o) Honest, we'll be so quiet you'll never know we're there.....

What role would Ms. Streep most like to play if she felt she lost or never had the opportunity to play earlier in her career? Or does she have something she still wants to do but she's not sure she'll ever have the opportunity?
First of all, congratulations on getting an interview with her.

Second, I would ask her: "Have you ever thought about directing yourself?"
Be original, and quirky. Meryl Streep isn't exactly the Starlet of the Month anymore, she's probably already been asked every stupid acting question in the book (not that you would ask stupid questions) and most of the great ones too (though I assume you will be expected to ask some questions about her latest work to give her the opportunity to make the obligatory plug), and she's earned the right to be interested and intrigued by those to whom she grants interviews.

Has she ever discovered that unusual aspects of a character she's played have incorporated themselves into her life or personality?

Has she ever been surprised about a role she was asked to play, because the character has qualities she didn't know others thought she had?

Which set--if any--has felt the most like home? Most uncomfortable or unwelcoming?

I'd want to know why she chose to give you an interview. Is she familiar with Salon and OpenSalon? Is she a mystery blogger here? Wouldn't THAT rock!

I like the idea of the "which-dead-people-for-dinner" question, but with a twist. Maybe something like, "If you could hang out with 3 characters you once played, who would they be and why, and what would you do together?"

Whatever you do, impress her and lure her here to OpenSalon! We promise to never reveal her secret identity! ;)
Sorry to double-post; it's late (or early) and I wanted to say:

Beth, with regard to the fur: I don't think that using real fur in Devil Wears Prada glorified fur; rather, I think it helped portray her character as the cold bitch who cares nothing for what's politically correct and exists only for fashion. The fur may actually have helped the anti-fur cause, as her character was designed to be admired by only those who would already have been unopposed to fur.

I love that "what's in your sock drawer" question, the "which of your films would you remake and why" question, and the "which roles would you want to play if you were a man" question.
One of the first roles I remember her in was Sophie's Choice, a book written by a man, about a mother asked to make an impossible choice. Looking back on that role now, have her own life experiences made it something she thinks she could ever act in again?
And second, could you please ask her to re-create that lovely telephone buzz she perfected while stoned in ADAPTATION?
Which role stretched her, grueled her the most?
I would like to see her asked, "What is the 'secret' to your artistry? What unique tool or system or perspective or technique distinguishes someone of your excellence and prominence in the field and that of many other very good actors?"
1) Are you happy with how your life is turning out?

2) How could you have made your best performance better?

3) A: Who humbles you? B: Who do you respect? C: Who would you most like to work with?
Where would you like to go for dinner? ;-)
Would you ever write a memoir? (Decades down the road, of course...)
Probably asked already but: how does she feel, being almost alone among female actors in continuing to secure a variety of meaningful and interesting roles well after turning fifty.

Also I'd ask her if she wanted to grab a cup of coffee.
Lucky You! I'd ask if she can roam free, kinda like free-range chickens, or does she have a closet full of "I wanna go outside like a normal person" disguises.
I second Sandra's question -- that's exactly what I'd ask and what I'd most like to know.
BillS's question...that's a great question!
RU just bragging here?
Reading all the questions posed thus far I must concur with Robin Sneed's pronouncement that Bill S.s' question is simply brilliant, and creates the greatest possibility of a fascinating response.
Q: In life we want to pretend we are someone other than who we really are. You have had the opportunity to portray people from all walks of life. We all dream of being someone else and how amazing it would be to be in their shoes. In your life have you ever wanted to actually be someone other than yourself and not just be portraying it for the moving pictures we call films!
Congratulations of such a wonderful opportunity. Meryl Streep is the outstanding actor of her generation. I see a lot of questions about the Deer Hunter on here (great movie) but I'd go for something a little newer as well. In Mamma Mia she showed us she could have fun and pull it off.

If she had written Mamma Mia, which of the three potential fathers would she have chosen as the actual father, and, secondly, did she do her own starjumps or did they hire a stuntwoman to do them?
Meryl Streep is certainly one of the best actors (male or female) of our time. She is so accomplished, and has been in so many great films. She has enjoyed a lot of success and recognition over the years, but I'm wondering how things were for her when she was first starting out...

When did she know she wanted to act? Was there ever any other passion that she considered pursuing?

If she wrote a letter to her younger self, what would it say? What advice, warnings, encouragements would she give to her younger self?

BTW--congratulations on landing such a great subject for an interview! Sophie's Choice is my favorite movie (not just of Meryl Streeps, but of all movies I've seen in general), mainly because of her performance. It was haunting and I will never forget it.
Maybe, "What gave you the impression you can sing and dance?"
I think I would ask her how she keeps her family out of the limelight, how long she's been married, how she met her husband, how old are her kids and what it is like to be a mom.
Could you ask her what her greatest regret was, professionally speaking?
Meryl Street was a guest on Prairie Home Companion?! Who knew? How cool is that? Garrison Keillor is one of my favorite people; his "Lives of the Cowboys" is often the best part of my week. Kerry, if you have a chance to interview Garrison Keillor for Open Salon...I'm not suggesting you should ditch Meryl Streep - that would be rude. I'm just saying that I'd be even more starstruck by a Keillor interview. His brain is my carnival ride.
Meryl Streep once said, "Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials." She is a mother of four children and I would love to hear more about her family life and have her expand on her quote. What does she consider the "essentials" of having children?
Man. I have seen her interviewed so many times and she has a WICKED sense of humor and has already been asked everything that interests me. The thing I found most intriguing watching her Bio.com special was that when she was filming "The Deerhunter", she was married to actor John Cazale who played Stan in the film, and of course made famous playing Fredo in The Godfather I and II. John had terminal cancer and new he would not finish the film before dying. Most of Meryl's scene's and John's scenes were intentionally shot first, before anything else to allow for this. I don't know if there's a question you can postulate from that, but "The Deerhunter" being one of my favorite films and Meryl roles, I didn't know the specifics for years.
I feel a little bad about the wealth of questions I got here -- the interview was a shorty that I'll abbreviate in some form for Salon, and I should've mentioned that! If I could've asked all these questions, I surely would have!
Kerry,......It's OK.......I am very happy for you to even talk to her!
And for me, I'll forgive you completely if you send her the link to my latest blog..........
Kerry, I phrased my question a little better:

Last year was the 30th year anniversary of The Deer Hunter's release. When you look back on a film so early on in your career, what's it like? Did you know you were part of a film that would have resonant power for decades? Did you feel like you were still finding yourself, as an actor?
I'd like to ask her which film was her favorite and why. She's been in so many, I'd like to know which one she liked the most.
Margaritaville Blender
Really awesome post, have been searching a bit for this recently so it is awesome to hear some news on this. I like the layout of the site too, looking swell.
Pure Cleanse
I would ask her was it hard just to smile once in devils wears Prada lol she is a great actor intense, some reason she reminds me of Glenn Close