Meryl Streep on Oprah 2020‘She’s…much more qualified than the current occupant of the White House.’

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Ryan Tubridy had barely introduced Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep this morning before Tom Hanks offered a correction to the order of the billing.

“That should be Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks please.

The pair were on The Ryan Tubridy Show to talk about their new film, The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg. It chronicles The Washington Post’s coverage of The Pentagon Papers story in 1971. 

Against the odds, it’s Streep and Hanks’ first time working together but it seems safe to say that Tom found himself a little star-struck to be sharing a screen with Meryl. He told Ryan that his affection for Streep “knows no bounds” and that “as an actor there is no greater moment on film than when you are waiting for Meryl to say what she’s going to say”.

Meryl took Ryan through her memories of filming Dancing at Lughnasa in Ireland, including one “magical afternoon” when some Donegal schoolchildren performed dances for her and the crew. Admittedly, she had “had a little Guinness”, which may have contributed to the magic.

Ryan was interested whether they feel the events depicted in The Post still have relevance. Meryl thinks the themes of journalistic freedom and integrity still ring true.

“The freedom of the press and the right of journalists to bring the truth to people has been under siege in a way unlike anything we’ve seen since Richard Nixon. So, the importance of bolstering the 1st Amendment of our country, which speaks to the right of the people to know the truth and to hold government to account, that’s something that’s embedded in this story and couldn’t be more relevant.”

Tom agreed with Meryl’s analysis.

“We did not have to do anything specific or say anything specific in order to bring it up to date. We were just recording what happened in 1971 as it happened in 1971 and the connections are in the historic fact…Isn’t it staggering, isn’t it frightening, isn’t it enlightening to realise we might as well set the movie in 2017?”

Meryl told Ryan that she is encouraged by the recent “Me Too” movement and other campaigns like it in Hollywood and beyond.

“It’s a thrilling moment actually that so many of the whistleblowers, across all industries, turn out to be women, and it isn’t just starting with this moment, this “Me too” moment. It goes back to the Enron debacle. It goes to Daphne Caruana Galizia [Panama Papers whistleblower]and part of it is that they’re not part of the collusion at leadership level. They have nothing to lose. Or, they have everything to lose by speaking up but together we’re stronger. Courage begets courage.”

This led Ryan to a name that’s been on everyone’s lips since last Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony: Oprah Winfrey. Feasible or not, Winfrey’s speech on the night has prompted a debate on whether she would make a good presidential candidate. Meryl deems Winfrey “much more qualified than the current occupant of the White House” and believes the positive reaction to her speech is with good reason.

“We realised how starved we are for a person who speaks, a leader who speaks and raises the best in us and asks us to live by the principles upon which our country is based instead of going to the lowest common denominator and speaking to our greed.”

Tom chipped in his memory of the night.

“You know, while she was speaking, out on the patio there at the Hilton hotel, the waters in the pool actually parted just ever so slightly.”

And did she walk on water, Ryan asked? Tom broke the news that, unfortunately, that wasn’t to be.

“That’s what everybody was waiting to see but I think she somehow snuck out by ascending into the sky…She was so good that Gary Oldman thought for a moment that he was watching Winston Churchill.

Ryan wanted to know what Tom makes of the buzz about a potential Winfrey-Hanks ticket in 2020.

“That’d be a disaster. I’d be a drag on the ticket. But I’ll take the job provided she…let me just ride shotgun in Marine Corps One, the helicopter, a couple of times a month. She gives me that, I’ll be happy to carry both her lipgloss and the nuclear football for her.”

Listen back to the whole interview on The Ryan Tubridy Show here.

© The Listener 2018

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