By GWEN OREL
When people in movies watch movies, they don’t see the movie: they see their dresser, where their kids were, what was going on in their lives, said Meryl Streep on Saturday, Dec. 1 at NJPAC, where she spoke to Stephen Colbert at a fundraiser for the eighth Montclair Film Festival.
Colbert, whose wife Evelyn Colbert is on the MF board, and who hosts many of the talks that MF holds, talked to Streep in front of a sold-out house about acting, empathy and life.
Governor Phil Murphy introduced Colbert by saying, “If the People’s Republic of Montclair were a monarchy, he would be the king. He speaks truth to power every single night.”
Murphy also welcomed Streep back to New Jersey; the Academy Award-winning actress and 21-time nominee lived in several New Jersey towns, including Summit, Basking Ridge, and Bernardsville.
Colbert said of Streep that that surely no compliment was more meaningful than — before switching to his Donald Trump voice — “one of the most overrated actresses.”
The audience rose to their feet as Streep, elegant in black-and-white striped pants, her hair loose, walked onstage.
When Colbert asked her how she responded to people who think New Jersey is like Elizabeth, she shouted “Good that they think that! Stay away!”
Streep, who said she will turn 70 this year, was affected by the upheavals of the 1960s. She even briefly lived in a commune: a theater commune.
“We would take Chekhov to the ski resorts, where the first five rows would fall asleep,” she said.
She and Colbert spontaneously leaned back in their seats, pretending to be asleep.
At one point Colbert got up and mixed gin martinis for them both on the elegant living room set designed by Jim Fenhagen (a Montclairite, who also designed Colbert’s CBS set).
“That’s called upstaging,” Streep told the audience.
Streep never expected to be a film actress, because she thought her nose was too big. Now, she said later, it’s hard for her to see herself in old movies, because she realizes she was a bombshell.
Still, men are much more vain than women, she said; agreeing, Colbert put his head down on his arm and laughed.
“But,” Streep said, “Men forgive themselves their flaws.”
She stressed that we must not let social media could mediate between people and empathy. “Empathy is the thing that will save us, if we will be saved,” she said.
Colbert replied, “So what’s it like to see someone with no empathy?”
“I can’t imagine anyone like that,” Streep said, getting a laugh as big as Colbert’s.
Streep strongly criticized Trump at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.
Before audience questions, Colbert and Streep both praised the importance of local news as part of the community in response to a journalist’s question.
Montclair Local assumes this means we will be getting an exclusive soon.