Oprah: That amazes me.

Julianne: It's so funny.

Nicole: So if you're sure you're not right for a role, that means you should take it!

Meryl: True. Embedded in this entire conversation is an idea I'm sure we share: There are so many amazing actresses. The shame is that a movie is usually made only once. I sit in awe of most other performers—I don't understand how they do what they do. I've never put together a method I can articulate. What I know changes all the time. You do a movie because you love one scene or a word in it just clicks for you, but how to do the rest of it? And you can't prepare. Then the other actor says something—

Nicole: And so much of your performance is just a reaction to their character.

Julianne: Which is why it's great to work with Meryl. The most exciting part about acting is what the other person is doing.

Oprah: Then you have someone to act against.

Julianne: There's this vitality. It's so much fun when something you don't expect happens. The other part—the preparation and publicity afterward—is what you dread.

Meryl: Tom Stoppard wrote a trilogy [The Coast of Utopia, 2002], and there's this line in it: "There is no libretto. We need wit and courage to make our way while our way is making us." That's true about acting and living. In both you don't know how people carry on sometimes.

Oprah: Yes. Now I want to switch gears and talk about getting older. In an industry that idolizes youth, how do you feel about aging?

Meryl: Why are you looking at me? [All laugh.] No, really—I feel blessed to have my life. Besides, I have friends who are dead already, so why would I complain about getting older?

Oprah: Exactly.

Meryl: In our business, I think the attention that's given to how you look is cruel and unrealistic. The people in the audience will accept much more than the people who run the film studios will.


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