Simon Helberg Got 'Frustrating' Acting Advice From Meryl Streep

Simon Helberg stars in the hit CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory."

ByANGELA WILLIAMS
August 12, 2016, 12:10 PM

— -- Simon Helberg of the smash hit CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” clearly knows how to bring in the laughs. But when it comes to playing a role opposite Oscar winner Meryl Streep, all bets are off.

Helberg, Streep and Hugh Grant have teamed up in the new comedy-drama, “Florence Foster Jenkins.” The film is the real-life story of a 1940s socialite, played by Streep, who held dreams of becoming a great opera singer.

“She’s the world’s worst opera singer but unbeknownst to her,” explained Helberg, who plays the role of her accompanist Cosme’ McMoon. “She thinks she’s God's gift to music.”

Helberg found himself both delighted and intimidated by working alongside Streep.

“I think she kind of cuts that tension right away. [Streep] put me at ease as much as I could be put at ease, which is not as much as you’d hope,” said Helberg. “Because I’m just sort of constantly bubbling over with anxiety and fear and excitement and all of that stuff."

He continued: "All of this, it was just like a lot of dreams coming true, particularly doing a scene with Meryl. She makes you better because she is constantly finding something and living in that moment. And surprising, I think not just herself, but you. Sometimes I get lost just looking at her.”

Heldberg revealed that there was a part of the movie where he found his role to be particularly challenging.

“There’s a scene ... where the whole scene is just me laughing in this elevator. And I was terrified,” Helberg, 35, told Peter Travers. “It was the dark cloud hanging over me because it’s a really hard thing to do as an actor. I feel like it’s harder than crying to just stand there and laugh hysterically and go into a fit.”

PHOTO: Simon Helberg and Peter Travers at the ABC Headquarters in New York, Aug. 1, 2016
Simon Helberg and Peter Travers at the ABC Headquarters in New York, Aug. 1, 2016
David Fazekas/ABC News

So he sought advice from Streep.

“Her answer was always really frustrating. Because it was like, ‘Oh, I just believed it. I just was laughing,'" Helberg joked while imitating Streep’s voice. "Then I was sort of like, ‘But how do you? But how?’ Eventually she said, 'Try to cry.' That always makes me laugh.”

“Florence Foster Jenkins” hits theaters today.

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