Meryl Streep Hates Critics
Meryl Streep attends the TimesTalks Presents Meryl Streep Discussing Her New Film “Florence Foster Jenkins” at The Times Center on August 11, 2016 in New York City – Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images North America.
Meryl Streep still hates reading the first reviews of her films after one New York City theatre critic left her feeling sick. The Florence Foster Jenkins star was making her theatrical debut at Lincoln Center in a play called called Trelawny of The Wells when the joy of performing suddenly fell flat, thanks to a revered reviewer’s take on the production.
“It was a wonderful cast with Mandy Patinkin and John Lithgow and Mary Beth Hurt; all of us pretty much first plays,” Meryl recalls to WENN. “We had preview audiences who were laughing and loving it and having a great time and then John Simon, who was a reviewer for New York magazine and famously cantankerous, wrote a s**tty review and after that came out the audiences were nonplussed, because they were told how to feel.
“The difference was really marked. That’s when I began to hate the critics. I remember when you would be in a play in New York City and there were three reviewers who really mattered – Clive Barnes, John Simon and Mel Gussow. You’d just get this terrible anxiety and go and buy the papers. It’s so old school to get the paper in the morning and it’s a nauseating feeling.”
Meryl’s very first performance onstage when she was a child also resulted in an unexpected feeling, but this one was very pleasant.
“I was in high school when I was 15 and they had cast me in The Music Man,” she reflects. “I was Marion the librarian and I had never done anything. I had never been on stage, ever. We rehearsed and my little brother played the guy who sings Gary Indiana, Gary Indiana. Not Paris, France or Rome, and he was really good but I didn’t know how I was.
“It’s high school. The overture starts up and all the parents are up front and the audience is packed. We did the musical and at the end everybody just stood up. That was the days when they didn’t stand up all the time! Now everybody stands up all the time, but in this they just jumped up and I thought, ‘What is this wave coming at me? Wow, this feels good on the skin.’ That was a moment where I wasn’t anticipating anything.”