Academy Award-winning actor Meryl Streep, star of the new film, The Iron Lady, appeared on the morning talk show The View Tuesday to speak about her role as Margaret Thatcher in the film. Both Ms. Streep and the film’s director, Phyllida Lloyd, described how the former British Prime Minister’s experience echoed their own as female professionals in jobs dominated by men.
The Iron Lady chronicles three days in the life of the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher. Ms. Thatcher was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. Her era of power coincides roughly with the Ronald Reagan presidential years in the United States.
About taking on an iconic British woman who is still alive, Meryl Streep told The View’s co-hosts that she was well aware that she is an American originally from New Jersey. “It was a little presumptuous of me to come in and take this part, and I knew that,” she said.
She said that Margaret Thatcher came to power in spite of the difficult climb she had as a woman in British politics, “She was amazing; she bucked all that,” she said. In her own experience, Ms. Streep was one of only 60 women attending Dartmouth when it first went co-ed. There were 6000 men in attendance when she began.
Director Phyllida Lloyd commented as well on working in the film industry in a profession dominated by men. She also spoke about telling a new dimension in the story of Margaret Thatcher, from a woman’s point of view.
She explained that usually Margaret Thatcher is described in one of two ways — as the woman who ruined millions of Great Britons’ lives or as “St. Margaret,” who saved post-war Great Britain from decline. She wanted to tell another story of the woman, the story of a “lower-class girl,” the daughter of a grocer, who rose to power in a world of “posh men.”
View creator and co-host, Barbara Walters, complimented Ms. Streep on her portrayal of the world leader. She showed a clip of an interview she did with Margaret Thatcher years ago and said she really couldn’t tell the difference between the real thing and Ms. Streep in character.
Ms. Streep talked about how she had to learn to breathe not from her lungs or diaphram but from all the way in her back in order to carry off Ms. Thatcher’s speech pattern of dominating control over a conversation.
Meryl Streep decribed the film as “a subjective look at her past from the point of view of a very old lady.” She said, “It’s a film about the end of power and about life and its waning end.”
Margaret Thatcher, now 86, will likely see the movie, according to the director, but in her own time. She said her work was put in a certain perspective when she heard that Ms. Thatcher responded to hearing about it as “another program” about her.
The Iron Lady opened in the U.S. on December 30, 2011 and is playing in many theaters now. Meryl Streep has already been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance and remains a likely nominee for an Academy Award as well. Ms. Streep has received 16 Oscar nominations and has won twice.