First, just let me start out by saying that sitting down to write about this interview is very intimidating. I mean, we’re talking about the 18-time-Academy-Award-nominated Meryl Streep! That is big stuff!
And the thing is, if Meryl weren’t involved I would probably be hyperventilating just as much about Tracey Ullman and Christine Baranski – I love both of them as well.
Put all three of them together and we have three amazing, talented and brilliant women. And I came to find out that they are hilarious in real life and EXTREMELY nice as well!
I had a chance to interview the three of them Friday morning at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, along with 24 other bloggers. I have never heard a conference table full of bloggers be so quiet as while we were anxiously awaiting their arrival and fiddling around on our smartphones.
We were especially honored by this interview because we were the ONLY people Meryl offered an interview that day. The quiet was instantly broken as Meryl, Tracey and Christine Baranski walked into the room to our applause and Tracey commented on the “lovely smell of estrogen” in the room filled with women. We dove right into the interview.
Just watching the three of them together, you can see the friendship and Meryl and Tracey confirmed that they have been friends for over 30 years, first working together on the film Plenty back when Tracey was a pop star in her early 20s. Meryl and Christine first worked together on Mama Mia. Christine said: “We had to do research by being friends, so we just hung out all the time, doing ‘research,’ – we had a lot of fun with all of that research.” But Meryl noted they had known each other “a hundred years”.
Christine agreed saying, “We have. We have, because we’re theater babes, and we’re Connecticut moms, and our kids are roughly the same age, and all three of us had long marriages, and shared parallel experiences. It’s a trick, being an actress, and wife, and mother, and having that longevity. That’s a real achievement in my opinion – that’s the greatest achievement. Not just having a career, but holding your life together. And look at Meryl with four kids.” Meryl noted “It’s a tribute to our husbands.” and Tracey added “Yes. Fantastic fathers.”
The women, who all have grown children of their own, were asked for a bit of parenting advice. Meryl stated that raising little kids now is so different from when their children were young. She sees this represented in Into the Woods in that it’s harder and harder to keep the worst parts of the world out.
To keep children in a little tower is impossible and all of the bad stuff comes in. She noted that people have worried this film may be too dark for kids. And added “Kids know so much now and they’re aware of so much, and yet they’re so resilient and innately hopeful.”
Tracey asked Meryl if she thought they would have taken their daughters to see Into the Woods when they were younger. Meryl responded “Are you kidding?!?! You let them watch Cops!” (and then went on to describe her daughter Gracie coming home from Tracey’s house and imitating the crack addicts being pulled by their hair.) I laughed extra hard at that because we have always bugged my mom about the fact that she lets my nephew watch Cops!
Meryl said that her daughters would have loved it and she would have taken them to see it at seven or eight. Christine agreed with that age, but added that visuals can really affect kids and although you can explain it away you never know what images will really get to them.
This led into a discussion of which fairy tales the actresses most enjoyed or were affected by as children. Meryl was really marked by Bluebeard and the idea of man who would take serial wives, one after another, and kill them in the castle. She was terrified by that and thought it may be why she stayed married to just one man
She also remembers visiting the library at age 8 and seeing pictures of the Kindertransport, especially a picture of the children’s bodies where they had suffocated. She said, “I have never forgotten that. It made me ask my parents questions about the Second World War and the Nazis and what that was. Kids want to get ready for trouble. That’s why my son used to draw lots of monsters. Boys draw lots of scary things, because they want to get ready. “
Christine added: “And they’re intrigued by it. Look at our fascination with violence in our culture. It’s just a part of it. I was always telling my kids, as I read to them, that there was such a thing as the world of the imagination. I said, “You’re safe. If you’re in the world of the imagination, you can go anywhere, and you can come back from that, so you’re safe. We will read this book, and it’ll take you places, but don’t worry. You will come back. Movies are like that. But it can be tricky when a child is too young. They don’t know how to do that. So, I think we need to be careful. Just take care of them and their little psyches.”
Meryl, Tracey and Christine also discussed the exposure to media that kids have today. Tracey mentioned how disturbing it is to see a child in a highchair with headphones on engrossed in their iPad while the family eats dinner (although she admits to using a video of “The Little Mermaid” to occasionally get some sleep when her girls were young.) Christine literally hauled her TV set out of her home after her young daughter was disturbed after seeing male strippers on Sally Jesse Raphael. Even though she made a living on TV, she didn’t have one in her house.
The women also discussed what types of roles they enjoy playing. I enjoyed listening to Tracey speak about how magnificent Meryl was in her role as Margaret Thatcher. It’s delightful to see such a close friend still be so enthralled with Meryl’s acting ability.
When discussing other roles they enjoy, Christine pointed out that the point is really if you feel like the project you are working on or the character you are portraying is helping to move the culture forward and show women in a deeper, more complicated way. Meryl shared that every person has a choice whether you’re an actor or a mom raising kids. You have a choice about what you’re putting out into the world and it matters.
I was just so genuinely impressed by all three of these women. They are strong, intelligent, funny, remarkable women who have held their own in a rough industry. Their words left me feeling uplifted and encouraged to be that type of woman myself.
Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says
Looking forward to this movie. I am sure it’s going to be great.
Tanya Coffman says
Oh wow! How lucky are you that you got to be part of this exclusive interview! I can’t wait to see the movie now 😀
It’s interesting to know that she doesn’t own a television set in her house. How does her children watch cartoons? I’m thinking that they can be accessed over the Internet. She’s like Steve Jobs who didn’t also allow his kids to use the tablet or any gadget to play.
Shannon Gosney says
That is so awesome that you got to meet Meryl Streep! Sounds like it was a great interview! I can’t wait to see this movie when it comes to theaters.
I think I’d faint outright if I met Meryl Streep. Probably not a great way to represent the blog world…but it could happen. 😉 This movie sounds great!
This sounds like it was a very cool interview to do! i cant wait to see this movie
R U S S says
You and all the other bloggers seemed to have a blast. I’m sure this was a wonderful experience with all these respected and seasoned actresses. I most definitely look forward to watching their upcoming film – you can never go wrong with Meryl Streep film.
Elizabeth O. says
This is a wonderful event to be a part of. Excited to watch the movie!
This is fabulous! This looks like it’s going to be a great one! I can’t wait to see it. I love Meryl, she is such a fantastic actress!
Rebecca Swenor says
This event had to be amazing. All three of these women are so amazing indeed. I can’t wait to watch this movie. Thanks for sharing.
Aisha Kristine Chong says
I totally want to see their movie – so much! I will be sharing it with my friends too.
Tonya C says
What an amazing opportunity to hear from these three actresses in such an intimate setting. We are going to see Into The Woods this weekend. Can’t wait!
Cherri Megasko says
Having long-term marriages in Hollywood is success in and of itself, unfortunately. I love all three of these actors and can’t wait to see them together.
I think Christine Baranski is so funny! I used to love her in the show with Betty White! This is going to be a big movie!
I hope we get to see this movie. I’ll bet it’s a fun movie to watch most especially that Meryl Streep is in the movie.
Ann BAcciaglia says
This looks like a great movie featuring a fantastic cast of actors. I had no idea that Meryl Streep has been nominated 18 times for an Academy Award. That is incredible.
Hannah McNally says
Meryl Streep is one of those classic actresses that’s good at EVERYTHING. I saw her first in Mamma Mia and was blown away by her voice. 18 nominations…holy cow. Talk about impressive.
OMG OMG I have loved Ms.Meryl Streep since one of my old school movies “Death Becomes Her” with Goldie Hawn (I have an old soul I am still in my late 20s saw the movie when I was like 4 lol). How fun it was to be in a room with these successful women and all the bloggers I am sure you all had a great time. I interview celebs all the time as well but I would love to go on my first media travel press conference…I am inspired thanks for the post!