Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman played contentious exes in the 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer, which won them each an Oscar for acting. But in a joint The New York Times interview with Tom Hanks, her co-star in The Post, Streep admits that Hoffman, who is currently accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, went too far in the role.
"I’m sure that I have inadvertently hurt people in physical scenes," she said. "But there’s a certain amount of forgiveness in that. But this was my first movie, and it was my first take in my first movie, and he just slapped me. And you see it in the movie. It was overstepping. But I think those things are being corrected in this moment. And they’re not politically corrected; they’re fixed. They will be fixed, because people won’t accept it anymore. So that’s a good thing."
Streep released a lengthy statement in December responding to allegations from actress Rose McGowan that she is a "hypocrite" and knew more about fallen Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein's predatory behavior than she let on.
"I wasn’t deliberately silent," Streep wrote. "I didn’t know. I don’t tacitly approve of rape. I didn’t know. I don’t like young women being assaulted. I didn’t know this was happening."
"I found out about [Weinstein's public accusations] on a Friday and went home deep into my own life," she told NYT. "And then somebody told me that on Morning Joe they were screaming that I haven’t responded yet. I don’t have a Twitter thing or – handle, whatever. And I don’t have Facebook. I really had to think. Because it really underlined my own sense of cluelessness, and also how evil, deeply evil, and duplicitous, a person he was, yet such a champion of really great work."
Streep didn't hide her disdain for Weinstein in the interview.
"Some of my favorite people have been brought down by this," she said of the subsequent wave of sexual harassment allegations. "And he’s not one of them."
She called on the First Lady and the daughter of the president to speak up.
"I don’t want to hear about the silence of me," she asserted. "I want to hear about the silence of Melania Trump. I want to hear from her. She has so much that’s valuable to say. And so does Ivanka. I want her to speak now."
Streep said she experienced untoward behavior from men mostly when she was "young and pretty," and "back in the day, when everybody was doing cocaine, there was a lot of [expletive] behavior that was inexcusable. But now that people are older, and more sober, there has to be forgiveness, and that’s the way I feel about it." She declined to go into more specifics, saying she didn't want to "ruin somebody's mature life."
Hanks was unafraid to reveal in the interview that he has participated in the sort of Hollywood machismo that fosters a hostile culture.
"I know that I have participated in crude humor worthy of a baseball locker room on a set," Hanks admitted. "And that’s bad words, and a degree of stupid sexuality in the confines of the circus. I was asked by Diane Rehm on NPR if I had ever been aware of this type of sexual predatory behavior. And I said: 'Well, it’s easy to say no. I mean, I’m oblivious to an awful lot of this. But I’d be a fool to say that it’s never happened on some job I’ve had, because I’m not in every office.' But four days after the Harvey Weinstein stuff broke someone wrote, 'Who says it’s too late to learn new behavior?' There’s no reason not to view this as a reckoning that is going to make us a better society."
"There shouldn’t be the idea of a locker room," Streep added. "The payload is unloaded on women, because that’s the last group it’s kind of O.K. to demean, degrade."
Streep said that she really didn't know the extent of Weinstein's behavior. She thought he had extramarital affairs, but didn't know that he was "in any way abusing people."
She candidly admits that she didn't foresee being a role model whose opinion matters when she ventured into acting: "You don’t know that when you go to drama school. You take out those loans, you think, 'Well, maybe I can pay those back.' You don’t think somebody’s going to ask you to make a speech in front of the Committee to Protect Journalists."