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We Ask Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones 'Can Passion Last?'

The stars of 'Hope Springs' get real about intimacy

Pillow Talk

This is a little intimidating! I'm sitting down with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones to talk about sex.

Meryl Streep: Is that what this is about?

Well, sort of. The movie is like no other movie I've seen — so real. When you first read the script, what was your reaction?

Tommy Lee Jones: I thought it would be a lot of fun.

MS: This script was on one of those lists in Hollywood — the 40 best unproduced movies of the decade, or something. And you read it and understood (a) why it was good and (b) why nobody wanted to do it.  [Laughs.] So that got me. I like things that seem like they have a problem. I also thought that built into it was something really funny but lodged in something very real. And that interested me.

Did anyone advise either of you to do it or not to do it?

MS: Nobody can tell us anything. [Laughs.]

TLJ: I didn't get any advice one way or the other, but it was clear that, at long last, I had a chance to work with Meryl, so there was no question in my mind that I wanted to do it.

What about your spouses? Did you show the script to them and say, "What do you think?"

TLJ: Oh, yeah. My wife loved the screenplay and loved the idea of me doing it.

MS: I think a lot of people will be interested in this, people not just of our age but of any age, really. Young people, too.

Would you take your kids to see it?

TLJ: Of course. It's funny.

And you would be OK with the bedroom scenes?

MS: Yeah. I think it's — you know, it's love.

TLJ: My daughter's a second-year acting student, and it's fun to share these things — although my kids are very tough critics.

MS: Your kids are always your toughest critics! 

Did you identify with the characters you play?

MS: I believed my gal. I believed who she was, and I felt like I knew her and loved her. I just could see the world through her eyes.

Tommy, what about your guy, Arnold? Did you identify with him?

TLJ: No. I'm not like that at all, but I know people who are.

But, obviously, you understood a reluctance to talk about and confront the issue of sexual intimacy? Why is that so hard for people to do?

TLJ: I don't know. I've been living with my wife for 18 years. It hasn't been [an issue]. We get along fine. We like each other quite a lot.

MS: But I think life is long, and there are a lot of phases you go through as a human being. You live through all sorts of stuff when you're in a long marriage: real highs and lows, and things that strain — and solidify — your relationship. Often it's hard to see each other new each day, and sometimes it's good to encourage that.

Next: An appetite for living. »

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