Meryl Streep agreed to star in The Post because the plot depicts a “transitional moment” for women.
The Oscar-winning actress headlines Steven Spielberg’s latest film, portraying The Washington Post publisher Katharine ‘Kay’ Graham as she contemplates publishing the Pentagon Papers, documents that revealed the U.S. had secretly enlarged the scope of its actions in the Vietnam War.
Not only does the film display the editorial and legal difficulties Kay faced, but also how unusual it was to be a woman in such a high position at a company, with Meryl attracted to the idea of playing a groundbreaking figure for women in both business and the media.
“I thought what was interesting about the screenplay was that it fell to a woman to hold the line and (push for) press freedom, at a time when women were excluded from any leadership roles in the press,” she said at a London press conference on Thursday (11Jan18). “There were no women reporters, it was very unusual. So, to have that fall to a woman, who was really alone in her position, that’s what interested me. And the fact that it was a transitional moment.”
The star also revealed that the film was dedicated to late writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron, who broke down barriers in the early 1960s when she participated in a class action lawsuit against Newsweek after she was told the publication didn’t hire women writers.
And like Nora, Meryl is determined to continue telling stories about women, and hopes the film business, and other industries, will become more inclusive in light of the Time’s Up movement sweeping Hollywood following several sexual harassment scandals.
“I think it’s important that stories be about women, that there be parity, equal. Half the world is female, half the world is male – we have different tastes, we have different interests, sometimes they dovetail, sometimes they don’t,” the 68-year-old shared. “Many of the films have been fantastic, but yes, they should be made by women. Mostly, they should be greenlit by women. I think if women were equally represented in the agencies, heads of studios, on the corporate boards that own the studios, the world would be a different place.”