It's no secret that Meryl Streep is one of the best actors to ever grace the silver screen. She's not just the best in her generation, or the best of the modern era — she's the best, period, as evidenced by her most recently Oscar-nominated performance in The Post. And her co-stars spare no compliment when describing just what makes Meryl Streep that good in this behind-the-scenes clip from The Post. The movie marked Oscar nomination number 21 for Streep, a number well over any other actor in Academy history, and this clip makes it clear that her Post castmates and crew weren't surprised at all by her latest success.
"I cannot imagine anybody else playing Katherine Graham. The way Meryl Streep acquitted the nature of her character and plumbed the depths of her life in under two hours," director Steven Spielberg says in the clip, "I don't know how Meryl did it, and I'm the director."
Clearly, Streep's otherworldly talent is as much a mystery to those that surround her as it is to those that watch her from afar, but as co-star Carrie Coon is quick to say in the clip, fans shouldn't mistake Streep's talent for magic or luck. Quoting her husband, Tracy Letts, who wrote August: Osage County, for which Streep earned an Oscar nomination in 2014, and plays Fritz Beebe in The Post, Coon said, "The mistake we make about somebody like Meryl is assuming that she's somehow magical. In fact, what Meryl Streep is is an incredibly hard worker."
In the film, available on Digital now, and out on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD on April 17, Streep plays the first female publisher of a major newspaper, who was faced with a tough decision early on in her tenure at The Washington Post. The movie marked the first time that Streep and Tom Hanks (playing Ben Bradlee) had worked together, and it's no surprise that the most delightful compliments in the clip come from Hanks.
"There is not a moment in which she is not reacting to you," the actor says about Streep. "She is bouncing off of everything that you give her and she is trying to find the moment along with you, and in that way you cannot do wrong. And that, well man, that's the high country, man, when you're working with somebody like that."
Streep, of course, is best known for her subtle, yet effective physical transformations for every role (The Devil Wears Prada and The Iron Lady come to mind), and her process for The Post was no different. "We had a lot of archival material to draw upon to look at how to present Katherine Graham," the actor herself says in the clip. "Even as self-conscious as she was, she presented in a certain way that was distinct and important, so we worked hard to try to get that."
Streep goes on to say that besides the physical, she focused on inhabiting Graham's uncertainty as well as her fake-it-til-you-make-it confidence she would put on in business meetings. "There was a tentativeness backstage to her decisions, and then in meetings and things she would try to present in a different way. That was an interesting challenge."
Whatever the actor did in trying to capture Graham's essence, it worked. Not only did she amaze her own co-stars, as evidenced by the clip, she also won over Graham's former employees. Richard Cohen, a columnist who worked for Graham, told Vanity Fair that he was stunned when he saw Streep as Graham on set. "I went up to Meryl and asked for a raise. 'Forget it,' she said. Just as Mrs. Graham would have done," Cohen said. Leave it to Streep to be be everyone's favorite person even while she's in character.