Meryl Streep on why she wanted her role in 'The Giver:' 'I like to be boss'

Co-starring Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush, "The Giver" opens nationwide Friday.
By Karen Butler  |  Aug. 14, 2014 at 3:16 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Actress Meryl Streep says she had several reasons for wanting to play the order-keeping chief elder in the big-screen adaptation of Lois Lowry's 1993 young-adult novel The Giver, which was directed by Phillip Noyce and co-stars Jeff Bridges.

"Well, I like to be boss, so that was a good thing," the three-time Oscar-winner said with a smile and a shrug at a press conference in New York Tuesday.

"I'd always wanted to work with this gentleman here," Streep added, indicating Bridges, who also participated in the panel discussion about the movie, the majority of which was filmed in black and white.

"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. 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."

Streep went on to say 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 trailed off, then made 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."

So, what was it like playing the woman in charge of a society that has forsaken freedom and passion for sameness and peace?

"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 how the hero in the film stops ingesting daily drugs intended to block feelings and memories.

"Do you know what I mean? Like, we all skip, probably. Because, clearly, she had some deep history with [Bridges' memory-keeper character] the Giver. ... 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."

Co-starring Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush, The Giver opens nationwide Friday.

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