Ladies Who Lunch: Talking About Food, Life, and Love with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and writer/director Nora Ephron talk about cooking, careers, relationships, and their delicious new movie, Julie & Julia.
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Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia, which hits theaters this month, tells the true stories of two women who discover the job -- and redemptive power -- of cooking. Meryl Streep plays Julia Child, living with her husband in Paris in the late 1940s, slightly bored, and about to uncover the passion for French cuisine that would make her famous. Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, a wannabe writer in New York City in 2002. Tired of her dead-end job, she challenges herself to cook every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's renowned Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Nora Ephron wove both women's memoirs into a screenplay that's funny, touching, and quite literally leaves you hungry for more. We got the dish from the film's director and stars.

Nora Ephron: One of the things I love about this movie is that the women in it are able to reinvent themselves.

Meryl Streep: Because we're less about what we do and more about what we are. I can never get over the fact that Julia Child's famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was published when she was almost 50 years old. So she didn't really become "Julia Child" until she was 50.

LHJ: Why do you think reinvention is such a female thing?

Streep: Men buy into the idea that there is a path up to success. I think -- speaking for myself -- that women are more 360. We're looking all around -- behind, in front, to the side. And we take a lot of other people into account in our decisions.

LHJ: Amy, can you talk a little bit about how this pertains to your life? I read that when you were about to start filming Junebug [Adams's breakthrough 2005 indie film], you found yourself at one of these turning points.

Amy Adams: Yeah, I did. I think for me it was when I abandoned the list of what I should do by what age because I hadn't done most of what I was supposed to have done by 30. It made me surrender a bit more to the possibilities as opposed to my predicted trajectory.

Ephron: I read, Amy, that you were thinking, Should I give up acting?

Adams: I was.

Streep: But don't you think each actor thinks each year of her life, Okay, this is it. What am I doing? We're always reassessing. Putting a finger in the wind and thinking, Well, is this really it?

LHJ: How do you guys keep it fresh for yourselves?

Adams: One day at a time, that's the only way for me to approach it. When I look too far into the future or examine too far into the past I become a crazy person.

Ephron: I started as a newspaper reporter, then I became a magazine writer, then I became a screenwriter, then I became a director. Every 10 years or so there was a moment when I'd say, even subconsciously, Is that all there is? You've got to find ways to keep it fresh for yourself. To do the thing, as they say, that is a stretch.

Streep: I think acting is a little too fresh because you're trying something new every four months. Unemployment opens its mouth at the end of each job, and you think, No one will ever hire me again, and then they do. I haven't ever managed to feel that I was equipped for the next new job. I've always had an appetite for each new thing and also a big dose of insecurity about whether or not it would be any good.

Continued on page 2:  Appetites of a Different Flavor

 

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