Julia Roberts Says Working With Meryl Streep Was a ‘Dream’… Except for the Choking
From left: Julianne Nicholson, Meryl Streep, and Julia Roberts in 'August: Osage County' (Photo: The Weinstein Company)
"Dallas Buyers Club" and "Gravity" may be the darlings among critics as we look forward to another awards season, but the film at this year's Toronto International Film Festival with possibly the highest number of collective past Oscar wins is "August: Osage County," thanks to the powerhouse ensemble cast led by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.
But becoming a squabbling mother-daughter duo was far from the inaugural Streep-Roberts onscreen union the 45-year-old "Pretty Woman" actress had always envisioned. "To work with Meryl Streep is a dream come true for anyone. To know her is an honor," said Roberts at the film's press conference at TIFF. "She is such a beautiful person and it was intimidating, certainly, to be in these scenes with her. Choking her, and things like that, were not how I pictured it going in my mind all these years. I thought we'd be together, having tea and speaking in fabulous accents all dressed up. But there we were ... I'm sweating and have on a big butt pad. So that's not how it was in my dream."
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"August: Osage County" is based on the acclaimed play by Tracy Letts, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008. Perhaps the dysfunctional family drama to end all dysfunctional family dramas — and a slightly kinder, gentler story (well, relatively, anyway) from the playwright who brought us "Killer Joe" and "Bug" — "August" tells the tale of the sprawling Weston clan as a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house in which they grew up. The story focuses mostly on the Weston sisters — Barbara (Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis) — and their fiery relationship with their mother, Violet (Streep), a domineering matriarch who now suffers from mouth cancer.
The impressive, sizable cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor and — in something of a meta-nod to who might've been Letts' main influence in writing the play — Sam Shepard as the missing Weston patriarch. "I think I cut off Dermot [Mulroney]'s circulation just squeezing his hand with excitement and thrill to see what everybody did — because it's such a great ensemble," Roberts said at the recent gathering of cast and press in Toronto. "Even though there were a lot of scenes that we are all in together, my favorite is the bus station scene with Benedict [Cumberbatch] and Chris [Cooper]. It was my favorite scene in the play and it was my favorite scene when I read the screenplay."