US president-elect Donald Trump dismissed Meryl Streep as "a Hillary lover" early Monday morning after the actor, in a speech at the Golden Globes award ceremony, denounced him as a bully who disrespected and humiliated others.
Mr Trump, in a brief telephone interview, said he had not seen Streep’s remarks or other parts of the Globes ceremony, which were broadcast on NBC, but added that he was “not surprised” that he had come under attack from “liberal movie people”.
The Globes were the last high-profile Hollywood event before Mr Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, a transfer of power that many in the entertainment industry have bemoaned. While anti-Trump comments at the Globes were relatively restrained, Streep, one of the most outspoken progressives in the film world, mounted a powerful critique of Mr Trump’s abilities as a performer, complimenting in a backhanded way a style of showmanship that she all but called insidious.
“There was one performance this year that stunned me, it sank its hooks in my heart,” Streep said. “Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth.
"It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter," she said, referring to a speech by Mr Trump in 2015 when he shuddered and flailed his arms, seeming to mock a disabled reporter for the New York Times.
“It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life,” said Streep.
Mr Trump, as he has done many times before, grew heated in the interview as he flatly denied that he had intended to make fun of the Times reporter, Serge F Kovaleski.
‘I did no such thing’
“I was never mocking anyone,” Mr Trump said. “I was calling into question a reporter who had gotten nervous because he had changed his story,” arguing that the reporter had been trying to back away from an article he wrote in September 2001 about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and elsewhere that month.
“People keep saying I intended to mock the reporter’s disability, as if Meryl Streep and others could read my mind, and I did no such thing,” he said in the interview.
"And remember, Meryl Streep introduced Hillary Clinton at her convention, and a lot of these people supported Hillary," Mr Trump said, referring to Streep's remarks at the Democratic National Convention last summer on behalf of his opponent, Ms Clinton.
Mr Trump later tweeted that Streep was one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood and repeated his denial of imitating the reporter.
In a series of tweets, he said: “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actors in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big.
“For the 100th time, I never ‘mocked’ a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him ‘grovelling’ when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!”
Streep's denunciation of Trump, whom she never mentioned by name, drew applause from many other actors at the ceremony, but also attacks online from the president-elect's allies, like Sean Hannity, as well as some Republicans, including Meghan McCain, who are critical of Mr Trump but see Hollywood liberals as only emboldening his supporters.
In her speech, Streep said: “This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.
“Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”
Mr Trump said that, Streep and her allies aside, he was confident that celebrities and others would turn out in strong numbers for his inauguration.
“We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,” Mr Trump said.
“All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”
You can read Meryl Streep’s speech in full below.
- Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.
Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said: You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.
But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London - no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.
Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.
They gave me three seconds to say this, so: An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.
But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. OK, go on with it.
OK, this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.
One more thing: Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something - you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be proud of the work Hollywood honours here tonight.
As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art.
New York Times