Jane Fonda raced to cast Meryl Streep in her acclaimed 1978 movie Coming Home after the newcomer left her breathless with her performance in her film debut Julia the year before.
The Mamma Mia! star had a supporting role in the 1977 Lillian Hellman biopic, opposite Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, and the On Golden Pond star still recalls the first time she saw Streep onscreen.
In a webchat with GoldDerby.com on Friday (31 May, 2013), she explains, “You wouldn’t have recognised her… She had a black wig and I remember the first time I saw the rushes (review of the previous day’s filming).
“It was a scene where Lillian Hellman had just opened on Broadway with her play, Little Foxes, and it was a magnificent triumph… Lillian is walking through Sardi’s and the camera panned with me… and then the camera stopped and I walk off camera, and Anne Marie walks on camera and stops – and that was Meryl. What she did in just a few seconds with her face and her hand… my hair stood on end.
“I was in the process of casting Coming Home and I called my producing partner, Bruce Gilbert, and I said, ‘Listen, it’s a weird name, Meryl Streep, but I’m telling you not since Geraldine Page have I seen anything like this; try to get her in the part.’
“She wasn’t free, she was doing a Tennessee Williams play but I feel privileged to have been presentat her screen debut… It was breathtaking.“