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Streep was steeped in Julia Child for ‘Julia’ role

Meryl Streep plays chef Julia Child in the upcoming release, "Julie & Julia."

Meryl Streep plays chef Julia Child in the upcoming release, "Julie & Julia."

The Streep-inator is about to strike again.

Action hero Harrison Ford was once the superstar staple of the summer blockbuster season, but now Oscar’s favorite leading lady, Meryl Streep, is making a habit out of cashing in on the busiest moviegoing period of the year with female-oriented counterprogramming.

First, it was her fashionatrix in 2006′s “The Devil Wears Prada.” Then came last year’s disco diva in “Mamma Mia!” Combined ticket sales: a solid $268.8 million in the USA and Canada and $929.2 million worldwide.

Next, Streep juggles pots, pans and pate in what promises to be a deliciously rich portrait of Julia Child during the decade-long span when she evolved into America’s queen of French cuisine in “Julie & Julia.” Joining her is Amy Adams, her nun sidekick from Doubt, as blogger Julie Powell, who spent a year toiling over all 524 recipes in Child’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Director/writer Nora Ephron, who did the screenplays for Streep’s “Silkwood” (1983) and “Heartburn” (1986), says the actress basically did an informal audition for her a couple of Junes ago when they bumped into each other at New York’s Shakespeare in the Park.

“It was before I even started writing the script,” the filmmaker says. “She asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Blah, blah, Julie Powell, Julia Child, 524 recipes.’ She went into Julia as we were walking out of the theater. She did her for a full 10 seconds. I think she even said, ‘Bon appetit,’ ” the late chef’s famous sign-off from her PBS cooking show. “I thought, ‘OK, look no further.’ ”

Once Prada opened, Ephron says, “I knew if I could get her, not only would she be the best person for it, but she would also force the studio to make the film. She was a movie star at age 57 or whatever she is.”

The role is more of a stretch than usual for Streep, who is 59. Not only does her half of the plot begin with Child at age 37 in 1949 as a student at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, but the chef also was a strapping 6-foot-2.

How did Streep, who is 5-foot-6 or so, manage to create such a towering presence? “Meryl believed that in order to capture the essence of the character, you had to believe Julia Child is 6-foot-2,” Ephron says. “Actually, our ambitions were more modest. We made her 6 feet. We used a whole bunch of fabulous tricks. Everything we could think of. Ann Roth did amazing things with costumes.”

Naturally, the whiz at accents nailed the native Californian’s distinctive vocal inflections. A dark, matronly wig tops off the transformation.

The performance, Ephron says, “is not an imitation, it’s more of a habitation.”

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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