"Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden sat down with legendary actress Meryl Streep. Nominated for best actress for her performance as Sister Aloysius in "Doubt," Streep talks about her role as an iron-willed nun, explains why she prefers to play difficult women and her true feelings about losing the Oscar in the past, and what her future holds.
The following are excerpts from the interview, which will air Monday, Feb. 2nd on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET
McFadden: It's award season. Good time of the year for you or bad time of the year for you? I mean, do you still get the little nervous feelings?
Streep: Oh yeah, very very much so. It's very nerve-racking. But you know, there's so much more chatter about it. There's so much more writing about, blogging about it and everybody sort of decides way ahead of when things are decided. You know by the voting thing so that it all gets very hyperbolic.
McFadden: Do you get your feelings hurt if you don't win?
Streep: I feel honestly that I've won my Oscar, you know. I feel validated. But yeah, there's a part of you that thinks every time you do the work as well as you hope you can do it, you get caught up in the thing. … Here's what you get caught up in. When you lose, you think my work wasn't any good. But it's an honor to be nominated, and it is! It is. But you just feel worse when you lose than you did before you got nominated. Ok? I'll say that.
McFadden: The truth! How does the "world's greatest living actress" mantle sit?
Streep: It's completely, honestly, Cynthia, it is meaningless …
Streep: Yeah, because there is no such thing, there is no such thing. There is no such entity.
McFadden: You said you like to play difficult women?
Streep: Yeah, I do.
Streep: Because their contradictions are so vivid and we're all so good at hiding ours. So in the course of a normal day, we all suppress what's hideous and the people that are interesting and sort of the one who just let it hang out.
McFadden: You know watching the film, I looked at Sister Aloysius and I wondered if she was the Miranda Priestley [Streep's character in "The Devil Wears Prada"] of the convent. They have a lot in common, these two women. Women in power, women with authority, women that other people are sort of pushed back by a bit. What do you think?
Streep: Wel, I see sort of a parallel in that women in power are still kind of terrifying to us and so Sister Aloysius is terrifying because of her demeanor and so is Miranda Priestley. But we are uncomfortable still with women in power and we don't really know, still, I think it's a complicated negotiation on the part of the person who has the authority and the people that she's bossing around.
So sometimes it's easier for people who are in authority to be authoritarian, because people know where you stand. The nicer the boss, the more mushy it gets and the more the female needs to ingratiate and be loved comes into it. With Miranda and Sister Aloysius, that's all sort of jettisoned.
McFadden: Let me ask you about this last year about women in power. How did women do in the last year with Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, do you think? Are women in power seen in a more positive light, or not?
Streep: Well, we're on our way. We're on our way to understanding all of it. I think we are just getting closer and closer as an evolving species to being able to accept this. But look around, look around the world this is -- women are living as we were in this country but in the 19th century in many, many, many parts of the world. They're bartered, they are property, they don't have the rights we have -- it's very difficult for us to understand all those things. But we do have a sense that for us, that is in the past.
But all those vestigial things are in every negotiation I have with people in my business. And it's still, it's informing, it's coloring, it's coloring.
McFadden: You know, so many people think it's about the priest and the nun and in fact, in some ways of course it is. Is it about religion?
Streep: No, I think it's about dogmatism of all sorts. I think John [Patrick Shanley] has talked about how he wrote it, when we wrote it at a time when in our country there was a lot of posturing about the certainty of our course of how to go ahead. I think it's about fundamentalism of every sort. And yeah, that's what I would say.
McFadden: You're far from being an old lady, but do you have a vision of who you want to be when you are one?
Streep: Well, my mother was a pretty good role model. But I'm just never going to measure up, she was just something. But that's my goal. Part of the thing is she didn't work full-time. And part of her gifts were the richness of her friendships, and that's really hard. It's not texting each other, it's face to face. You have to be in your friends' faces and in their lives. That's something that I think I've missed by working so hard and having so many thousands of kids.