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Golden Globes: Meryl Streep on playing Margaret Thatcher in 'Iron Lady'

January 15, 2012 |  9:06 pm

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep was so surprised that she won the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama for her turn as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady" on Sunday that she left her glasses at her table and realized, once she was on the stage, that she was as blind as could be. So much so that she couldn’t see to read the speech she prepared, hence her unexpected profanity, which caused her to be bleeped in what was likely a first for the revered leading lady.

“I can’t believe I said [that] on TV. I never do anything like that!” said Streep with the giddy enthusiasm of a young girl backstage at the ceremony. “I had such a good speech. Here it is, and I can’t see it all — I left my glasses at the table — would you like to hear it now?”

However, Streep proved to be as articulate as she was blind when she discussed the persona of Thatcher and what it took to play a controversial historical figure so marked by contradiction and complexity.

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“I think coming into this I had a very reductive view of Margaret Thatcher, so I sort of did what we all do to political figures we don’t agree with — we turn them into something more than human and less than human at the same time. And it was interesting to look at the human being behind the headlines … in the winter of that life and to have a compassionate view of someone with whom I disagree.”

Plus doing the work required to play Thatcher had the added bonus of putting Streep in touch with her own character flaws. “I’ve never really gotten to the bottom of me and all the contradictions I find in my own personality, and I feel like I find myself and parts of myself … through the characters that I play.”

But it certainly doesn’t hurt to play a woman who was so important to the history of the world, Streep added, saying that she is extremely interested in the “unwritten history of women.”

“I’m trying very hard to get Congress to let us purchase land on the National Mall so we can build the first national women’s history museum.”


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Photo: Meryl Streep backstage at the Golden Globe awards. Credit: Paul Buck/EPA


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