Actress Meryl Streep has several reasons why she chose to play the order-keeping chief elder in the big-screen adaptation of Lois Lowry’s 1993 Newbury Award-winning, young-adult novel The Giver — one of those was the opportunity to work alongside Jeff Bridges.
“I’d always wanted to work with this gentleman here,” said the Oscar-winning actress at a press conference in New York Tuesday.
“My entire career, I never got the chance. Somehow, he managed to elude me. So, that was a big, big part of the draw. I am also a big admirer of Phillip’s films,” she continued, referring the the film’s director, Phillip Noyce. “I think he is a pure, pure filmmaker with great taste and I knew, to bring this to life, especially the colorless parts of it, it would take a great artist.”
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Another reason for wanting to do the movie is her connection to the book through her children. Streep said the two youngest of her four children read Lowry’s book when they were in elementary school.
“They had a list of required reading over the summer and it was always…,” Streep stopped mid-sentence to make the sound of a whip cracking, “… to get them to do it. That’s one of my parenting methods. But that [book] was put in front of them and they devoured it.”
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Streep, 65, said the role provided a unique challenge in her acting repertoire.
“It’s an interesting thing to play — someone who has suppressed emotion, but I felt that the chief elder didn’t take her medication, as well, on certain days,” she said, referring to the hero’s refusal to ingest daily drugs that block emotions and memories.
“Do you know what I mean? Like, we all skip, probably. Because, clearly, she had some deep history with the Giver,” she said of Bridges’ character. “And I think that was something that intrigued me about the script. But I think that is sort of the point of the book. You can’t keep things in. You can’t suppress the things that make us human and it is pointless to try.”
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Streep had one other important reason for deciding on the role.
“Well, I like to be boss, so that was a good thing,” the three-time Oscar-winner said.
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