Photograph by Neshan Naltchayan
Meryl Streep was in Washington Tuesday night looking more than ready for her close-up at this weekend’s Kennedy Center Honors. She made a quick appearance at a screening of The Iron Lady, in which she portrays former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and received warm applause for her latest turn embodying a notable woman.
Noting that the mostly female audience included Senators Barbara Mikulski, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Amy Klobuchar, Susan Collins and Debbie Stabenow, Streep said, “I’m quite interested in your reactions as women legislators who have a unique understanding of women who choose to stand up.”
Streep was in the theater for only the few minutes of her remarks, and the house lights were already low; if not for the pop of flashbulbs, it would have been nearly impossible to see her. While she has the distinction of being one of the most acclaimed film actresses of the times, Streep, at 62, also looks age-appropriate and therefore quite good. No plumped-up “reality TV” lips or erased character lines for her. She glowed, which may have been prompted in part by having just won the Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle for her portrayal of Thatcher.
Ironically, she spends quite a lot of time in the film in heavy makeup, because the script time-travels extensively among Thatcher’s old age, middle age, and youth. The old-age makeup veers perilously close to drag, but it does not get in the way of her performance, which, as with her 2009 portrayal of Julia Child, makes it easy to forget that Streep is even there.
The actress was quite adamant about the genre of The Iron Lady. “This is not a biopic,” she said. “It’s a look back. We worked very hard to get the facts right, but it is a subjective look back. It’s as close to the truth as fiction would allow.”
The screening was held at the Landmark E Street Cinema on behalf of the National Women’s History Museum. Streep is the museum’s national spokesperson.