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Meryl Streep slams Walt Disney, lauds Emma Thompson in epic NBR Awards speech

The "August: Osage County" actress stole the show at Tuesday night's National Board of Review Awards with a lengthy speech that was part glowing praise of Emma Thompson and part condemnation of "bigoted" Hollywood filmmaker Walt Disney.
Posted By Kate Stanton   |   Jan. 8, 2014 at 9:54 PM   |   Comments

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Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Meryl Streep is unquestionably one of the greatest actresses of the day. But she's also got a wry sense of humor and forthright intelligence that make for excellent awards speeches.

The 64-year-old stepped onstage Tuesday night to present an award to Saving Mr. Banks star Emma Thompson, who plays curmudgeonly Marry Poppins scribe P.L. Travers.

Streeps praised Thompson's artistry ("She's practically a saint), but also used the occasion to rail boldly against Walt Disney's "racist proclivities" and sexism.

"Emma makes you want to kill yourself because she's a beautiful artist, she's a writer, she's a thinker, she's a living, acting conscience," Streep said. "Emma considers carefully what the fuck she is putting out into the culture! Emma thinks, "Is this helpful?" Not, "Will it build my brand?"

Streep moved onto Disney, comparing the "bigoted" late filmmaker to Thompson's character in the film.

"Disney, who brought joy, arguably, to billions of people, was perhaps ... or had some racist proclivities. He formed and supported an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group. And he was certainly, on the evidence of his company's policies, a gender bigot," Streep said.

"When I saw the film, I could just imagine Walt Disney's chagrin at having to cultivate P.L. Travers' favor for the 20 years that it took to secure the rights to her work," Streep continued. "It must have killed him to encounter a woman, an equally disdainful and superior creature, a person dismissive of his own considerable gifts and prodigious output and imagination."

Streep went onto laud Thompson's work and talents.

She has real access to her own tenderness, and it's one of the most disarming things about her. She works like a stevedore, she drinks like a bloke, and she's smart and crack and she can be withering in a smack-down of wits, but she leads with her heart.

“I’m nauseous with gratitude," Thompson responded when she accepted the award.

Unfortunately, there's no online video of the speech, but Vulture has transcribed it in full.

[Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times]

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