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

The stars of 'Hope Springs' get real about intimacy

Arriving at that happy place

Yes, you made your directorial debut a few years ago.

MS: What's it like to direct yourself?

TLJ: Easy …

MS: I can't believe that. You sound like Clint [Eastwood].

TLJ: … if you can do without sleep!

MS: There's the deal breaker!

I hear your next directing project is a movie called The Homesman. What's it about?

TLJ: It's about mid-19th-century Nebraska and the Homestead Act and what happened to the women who came west. A lot of them were not used to living in a dugout, with no companionship, about a 75 percent infant-mortality rate, and no antibiotics. Brutal winters, consistent crop failures — it drove a lot of them crazy.

Have you cast the women yet?

[Streep leans toward Jones, hands steepled as if in prayer, and smiles.]

TLJ: I haven't cast anybody, but maybe I can talk Meryl into reading the screenplay.

MS: That sounds good!

Meryl, do you want to direct?

MS: I just don't. I really like acting. And I love to get in the car and put on some music at the end of the day, drive home, stop thinking about it. If you're a director, you never take that hat off. You live it. It crowds out a lot of other things. Acting crowds out a lot of stuff, too. A lot of things press in on me. But if I added to it, I couldn't just jettison in that way.

Do either of you think about doing something else entirely different?

MS: He does something entirely different all the time. I don't know how you do it all.

TLJ: We're in the cattle and the horse business. We raise commercial mother cows, and we also raise, train, sell and play polo horses. We have polo fields on our ranch in San Saba, Texas, and in Palm Beach County, Fla., and Argentina.

Polo seems as if it's the toughest sport.

MS: Yeah, if you've ever watched a match — oh, my God!

Do you play, Meryl?

MS: No, none of that. [Laughs.] I cross-country ski. I no longer downhill ski because — here's my thing — I don't want to fall. You fall in cross-country and it's a soft landing — you're not headlong into a tree.

What else do you love to do?

MS: I swim a lot. But I like everything. There's just not anything I don't like to do. That's the problem. It means I'm very distractible. [Laughs.]

Of all your passions and accomplishments, what is it that makes you most proud?

MS: My kids.

TLJ: Yeah, I have two pretty happy kids. I like being around them.

Is it that they're happy that makes you proud?

TLJ: I've kept them safe. [Laughs.] I've kept them alive! That's pretty good.

MS: Yeah, kineahora [a Yiddish version of knock on wood]. You don't want to say what you're grateful for. It's enough to say I'm happy for them. I'm happy.

You may also like: Meredith Vieira and Richard M. Cohen: stronger together.

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