Meryl Streep ‘Forgot How to Act’ While Filming ‘Don’t Look Up’ in Lockdown: ‘I Just Lost It’

Streep also thought her co-stars were calling her a "goat," when really they meant the acronym "GOAT," for "Greatest of All Time."
DON'T LOOK UP, Meryl Streep as President Janie Orlean. Cr. Niko Tavernise / Netflix © 2021
"Don't Look Up"

Burnout and disassociation were very real things for everybody during the deep days of lockdown, and that includes actor Meryl Streep. Her first time back on a set following the onset of COVID-19 back in early 2020 was for Adam McKay’s star-studded Netflix comedy “Don’t Look Up,” which was supposed to begin filming in April 2020 before being pushed to November of last year.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Streep said she temporarily “forgot how to act” when it was time to show up for production, which took place throughout the Northeast. In the film, she plays flippant United States President Janie Orlean, who’s hardly convinced by scientists Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence that an asteroid is headed to destroy the planet Earth.

“I found it really hard,” Streep said. “I was aware that my character was funny. I didn’t feel funny in the lockdown. I was living up at home because we live in the Berkshires so that’s about a three-hour drive from Boston.”

The triple Oscar winner continued, “[I’d] get out of my car, haven’t spoken to anyone in three weeks, and walk into the stadium in Worcester, put on the wig and put on the nails, and put on my face and the suit and the thing. Walk up to the jumbotron. There’s my face 40-feet tall and make a speech to all these people.”

She continued, “I just lost it. I forgot how to act, I forgot what I was about. What am I? I’m this thing all put together of little component parts and it sort of dismantles your humanity, to be isolated like that. Thank god for Jonah [Hill, who plays the Chief of Staff], because he kept us laughing.”

Stories from the set of “Don’t Look Up” indicate the actors had a grand time, whether it was Jennifer Lawrence actually getting ripped for a scene where she had to be stoned, or Streep thinking her co-stars were calling her a “goat” when actually they meant the acronym GOAT, for Greatest of All Time.

“I had so much fun,” Jonah Hill told EW. “Once we were in that Oval Office it was so cool, because it was a bunch of people I either know really well and/or deeply respect. It was like, oh my god, we can joke around together. Meryl was so rad, not because of [her] stature in [her] art, but because of how fun and funny [she was] in the pocket of this character.”

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