Pray for Meryl Streep.
Never before has there been an actor so stricken with terrible luck as she has throughout her four-decade film career. Though showered with accolades for every performance she gives, the 61-year old star of The Deer Hunter and Manhattan has rarely ever ended up in the movie she thought she was making. “What the studios are doing to me is completely unforgivable,” Streep could have said recently in a private conversation. “Now, I love big movies. Absolutely love ‘em– they’re the kind of films I grew up with in New Jersey; the movies that made me want to become an actress,” the Academy Award-winning thespian probably said, elaborating on her early influences: “Every Saturday, my mother would take me to the movies and I’d stare up at the screen watching classics like Tarantula, The Fly, Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla where Godzilla faces off against a giant robotic version of himself made by ape aliens from beyond the black hole,” she may have said, staring longingly into the middle distance.
“I just want to be in a summer tent pole feature! I think I’ve earned that right. How could they do this to me?” cried the critically-acclaimed star of The River Wild, presumably, smashing her wine glass against a nearby vase, sending claret flying across the floor of her penthouse in New York’s Upper East Side.
She, of course, is referring to the recent, much-publicised Thatcher debacle. Long-planned as a reboot of the Robocop franchise, The Iron Lady would have seen the Kramer vs. Kramer star as a brutally murdered Detroit cop who is rebuilt into the ultimate crime-fighting machine. Originally budgeted at $120 million, production costs more than doubled in post-production after early screenings drew lukewarm test scores, driving studio executives to convert the project into a biography of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The film was digitally altered frame-by-frame, replacing the dystopian industrial backdrops with images of parliament and English sitting rooms.
“Why did anybody go watch that movie in the end? It’s just about some old woman talking to old men,” Streep might have said, “I mean: winning an Oscar is fine – but I wanted to be a robot police officer! Is that too much to ask for?”
This was not the first time studio tampering has resulted in the whole-scale massacre of her movie. “I still can’t get over the fact that my action scenes in Sophie’s Choice didn’t make the final cut! I spent six months training for the sequence where Sophie storms Auschwitz, tackling SS Officers armed with nothing more than her bare hands and a decade’s experience in Krav Maga. That was supposed to be the entire third act!” she was likely to have screamed.
At this point, Streep would doubtlessly have been calmed down by a visiting house guest (one can only assume Glenn Close). “You’ll have to excuse her,” the erstwhile Albert Nobbs possibly uttered, “It’s been a rough couple of years: she hasn’t been the same since Julie and Julia,” referring to the Streep’s 2009 Oscar-nominated comedy/drama, “She was so very much looking forward to starring as by-the-book New York policewoman Barbara Julie opposite Amy Adams’ maverick FBI operative, Special Agent Jenny Julia. How they managed to cobble together a Julia Child biopic out of the footage is still a mystery to us all.”
Padding a handkerchief under her moist eyes, the star of Broadway’s hit musical Sunset Boulevard would have continued: “When District 9 came out a few years back she fell into a deep depression. Out of Africa with Bob Redford was supposed to be about a wealthy white woman in Africa who tries to help a race of extra-terrestrial space lobsters living in a refugee camp. Management convinced her that nobody would believe the story and they ended up making it about her falling in love or some crap – I really don’t know; I haven’t seen it and I don’t think Meryl has either.”
“Now, if you would excuse us: she really needs to get her rest,” Close said, in all probability, absentmindedly resting her hand around one of Streep’s Oscars.
Streep, Re-Cut: Other Meryl Movie Fiascos
Streep signed on to The Devil Wears Prada under the impression that it was a supernatural action-comedy in which she played Satan opposite Anne Hathaway’s newbie demonic intern. The film was shot entirely in front of a green screen with British impressionist hired to Ronni Ancona re-record all of Streep’s dialogue in post-production. “I wondered why David [Frankel, director] had me turn my back to the camera whenever I mentioned that I was the devil or that we were in the capital city of Hell. I guess this was their plan all along.”
Originally penned as a edgy, satirical, science-fiction take on the romantic comedy genre, early cuts of this film (under the working title It’s Cloneplicated) involved a love triangle between an architect (Steve Martin), a bakery entrepreneur (Streep) and her South Korean lab-created clone. But once more, The Streep Curse struck again: although she was eager to play opposite herself in a film, international distributors balked at the prospect of the all-Streep sex scenes and quick adjustments were made, resulting in the last-minute casting of Alec Baldwin. By the time the film made it to the cinemas, director Nancy Meyers ended up excising all references to clones and with it a good five minutes of solid onanism gags. Despite her best intentions, Streep ended up in yet another gentle comedy targeted at women over 40.
One of Streep’s more ambitious stabs at the science-fiction/horror genre, Mamma Mia’s shooting script was a sequel to the 1993 mega-flop Super Mario Bros. Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo were on board to reprise their pseudo-iconic roles as the garrulous Italian plumbers, saving Streep’s Princess Peach from the clutches of the Goombas, a race of dinosaur-like creatures. When an production assistant casually commented that Mamma Mia! was also the title of a hit musical featuring the music of ABBA, the producers quickly lost their resolve. They commissioned an on-set rewrite, brought in a blatantly disparate cast and sent Hoskins and Leguizamo packing. “It’s a real shame about that,” Hoskins said in a recent interview with Metro, “But I feel really bad for Mezza [Streep]. She was really chuffed about getting to run away from those dinosaur puppets. She would come back from every take, screaming with joy, saying how real they looked. I’ve never seen a woman so happy. She must’ve been gutted when they finally told her.”