Meryl Streep on the Set of “Suffragette” as Emmeline Pankhurst

Posted on March 25, 2014

Meryl at work. There should be little road signs. “SLOW. MERYL AT WORK. RESPECT.”


Meryl-Streep-On-Set-Suffragette-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (1)First images of actress Meryl Streep playing Emmeline Pankhurst in “Suffragette” filming in London. Pankhurst (1858 – 1928) was a British political activist and leader of the British Suffragette movement.

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This is really great casting, but we’re starting to think Meryl should take a little break. She doesn’t have to play EVERY part available to an actress over 50. Helen Mirren would have been great casting too, as would any number of English actresses of a certain age. Of course, this is more of a failure of imagination on the industry’s part, rather than anything we can blame Meryl for. It’s not her fault casting directors go straight for her. It’s not like a working actress (especially one in an age range that gets fewer and fewer offers) should turn down work so some other actress can get a shot at it.

Having said that, she looks really great. Not “great” in the stylish or pretty sense, but in the “totally inhabits the time and place” sense. She looks like a suffragette and more specifically, she looks a great deal like the real Emmeline Pankhurst. Early 20th Century women’s styles of the Edwardian era were so heavy and layered and not particularly pretty to our eyes, but one thing the clothes had going for them was the beautiful detailing, which ran the gamut from delicate (the lace lapels) to bold (the scalloped design and massive sleeves on the coat).




[Photo Credit: FameFlynetUK/FAMEFLYNET PICTURES]

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  • Call me Bee

    Excellent–A great story, a great actress (even though she’s not English, though she mastered her role as a Polish detention camp survivor in Sophie’s Choice…) and even more Downton Abby-esque early 20th century fashion. I am excited beyond repair!

  • The Versatile Chef

    If I were still an actress, Meryl Streep would be my spirit animal.

  • mkt-rex

    Cora totally wore that like the first season of downton abbey. At the flower show maybe? I know she did.

  • Sarah

    She is all commanding and benevolent looking in that drag. It’s like she’s a Suffragette Pope. I would totally give her the vote.

    • DaveUWSNYC

      Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum…habemus Meryl-am!

    • formerlyAnon

      I was thinking Suffragette Evita, but Pope is better. Props to you.

  • butterflysunita

    I’m really looking forward to this movie.

  • RussellH88

    She’s getting another Oscar nomination, isn’t she?

    • It is now how we mark the passage of time.

      • RussellH88

        Ah yes, I believe that event occurred in the Month of August: Osage County during the Year of Meryl’s 17th Nomination.

        • littlemac8

          I couldn’t have disliked her acting more than her scenry-chewing turn in Osage County. I can’t fathom why she got a nomination for that. But she is the greatest actress of our time but not everything she does is Oscar worthy.

    • RohanMBN

      Have they not already nominated her? I love her, but feel they now nominated her for simply being Meryl, not for the role. There are a handful of roles I think she was good in but didn’t deserve a nomination. It could have gone to better use showcasing a lesser known actress who deserved those nominations as well.

      • bitchybitchybitchy

        As much as I love and respect Streep, I do think that the academy automatically nominates her because she’s almost always worth watchng, and other, less well-known actresses lose an opportunity to be recognized.

  • SewingSiren

    I don’t know she looks a little like she’s veering into and staring MERYL STREEP as territory.

  • par3182

    Also starring Helena Bonham Carter (probably in her own clothes).

    • Introspective

      absolutely in her own clothes!! would we want HBC any other way??

    • Fuchaforever


  • Beardslee

    She does really look like Emmeline. And the scalloped trim on those sleeves is just divine. I’m interested in learning who was cast to play Christabel Pankhurst. She was a pretty, sweet faced woman, which just goes to show that looks are deceiving as sweet she definitely was not.

  • MilaXX

    I don’t get how TPTB don’t see that after a while her movies all start morphing into Meryl immersing herself into another character again. That, no matter how fantastic a performance, is boring.

    • Bomb drop: She gave one of the worst performances of her career in August: Osage County.

      • MilaXX

        Everybody sucked in that. It was like and SNL skit where everyone was ACTING!

        • bitchybitchybitchy

          I didn’t think that Meryl was bad in August:Osage County, as much as the adaptation was still too stage-y, as opposed to really taking the medium of film into account. Plus,to me, most of the characaters weren’t well drawn, three dimensional, and that was a handicap.

        • alyce1213

          Exactly what I thought – with a nod to Jon Lovitz – ACTING!

        • VicD

          Juliette Lewis was good.

  • KinoEye

    Traffic fines double when Meryls are present.

  • Danielle

    Meryl is my lifeblood.

  • Gatto Nero

    She inhabits the time and place and no doubt will inhabit the role.
    But Helen Mirren would have shut it down.

  • Jackie4g

    And yet, under all those gorgeous details, were corsets with restrictive boning and lacing that forced a woman’s body into a pre-ordained shape. One of the blessings of the 20th C. was the discarding of corsetry after 1000 years of it. Of course now we have Spanx, only marginally better. Try to get some exercise, you’ll feel better and jiggle less.

    • starrika

      I actually find Spanx and pantyhose far more restricting feeling than corsets. I’ve never tightlaced, but when I’ve worn corsets (not ones to promote the S-curve), I’ve felt comfortable. Able to draw breath, and less confined/sweaty/contained than a lot of our non-natural fiber underthings we wear now.

      For me, it’s not about exercise and jiggle, although corsets do provide a better line under clothes. But I like the firm yet flexible feel to them. I like a sense of fitted things around the torso, in a sensory sort of way. I think it is the inverse of people who absolutely cannot have anything cling at the waist, and must have air circulating. We all have our quirks. Anyway, tl; dr – corsets aren’t inherently bad.

    • Sarah

      Excepting that Spanx are voluntary, whereas corsetry was de rigueur. I prefer to jiggle as much as I please, foundation garments be damned.

      • Jackie4g

        And gravity has gotten to me, no matter how often I go to Senior Swim.

    • not_Bridget

      By the early 20th century, corsets were beginning to go. Couturier Paul Poiret (who also invented the harem pants seen in Downton season 1) was a pioneer in freer styles. Emmeline & her favorite daughter were both fashionable. We don’t know the exact year here, but note that her outfit is not wasp-waisted….

      • Corsetmaker

        Wasp waists were gone in the early years of the century, the S-curve was supposed to stop tightlacing but women still laced them in. By the teens corsets were straightening out and lengthening to match the fashions. Still there though and for a long time after.

      • Jackie4g

        The thing is, Poiret was a cutting edge designer, so his initial influence was to the high fashion and moneyed customer, not to the middle class. The reaction of the middle class was generally against going uncorseted, with the vague feeling that it “wasn’t nice”. I had a grand mother who told me this. She was married in 1908, so she lived through it.

    • SportifLateBoomer

      Yo, I get A LOT of exercise and have a great body, and still like Spanx and their ilk for, well, smoothing things out further, with plenty of room for strategic jiggling to show off the results of all my hard work and healthy living.

      • Jackie4g

        Cool. You are admirable!

    • Corsetmaker

      Corsets weren’t discarded for a long time to come, except by a minority. They changed shape, as they had done over the previous several hundred years, but they didn’t go. The girdles that replaced them were just as restrictive. And they didn’t go because women didn’t want them to generally, after all this is pre-bra, they were worn for support. In fact the strongest voices even against the trend of tightlacing at the time were male. But most women didn’t tightlace.
      Real corsets are far from gone even now. They’re worn from choice as a fashion and/or lifestyle choice, but not as a substitute for exercise.

  • Lovely detail of the medal – each silver bar on it indicates a period of hunger striking.

    • ballerinawithagun

      Thanks for that interesting piece of information!

      • I was doing some research on the WSPU last week for a blog post and it came up! They adopted those colours in 1908 for their campaign materials. And Mappin & Webb (very lovely jewellers) released a collection of suffragette-themed jewellery for Christmas that year.

    • Beardslee

      I wondered! Thanks. I was trying to remember if she herself went to prison. And am still thinking about Christabel and whether she will be in this movie. Wasn’t she exiled in France during the supposed time period of this movie?

      • I wouldn’t know without looking it up!

      • not_Bridget

        Christabel wasn’t exactly “exiled” to France. She found prison distasteful & preferred to lead the movement from Paris. Her mother was always eager to grandstand.

        I admire the suffragettes–and the suffragists. But Emmeline Pankhurst found one daughter too high-strung to be useful–so she gave her a one-way ticket to Australia; they never met again. Sylvia, the “plain” daughter, broke with the WSPU & began working for suffrage along with other causes–often among the poor. Her mother & the “beautiful” daughter aimed for the upper classes.

        When the Great War began, Emmeline dropped suffrage & became a jingoistic fan of The War Effort. She & Christabel (back from France) favored conscription & led the movement to give “slackers” white feathers. Sylvia helped poor soldiers’ wives & worked for peace. After the War, Emmeline became a Conservative MP & Christabel moved to LA & found Jesus. Sylvia became a Communist but was disillusioned–so she focused on anti-Fascism….

        This complex family story would add interest to the movie.

        • SRQkitten

          Hmmm….what’s the likelihood that we’ll get the full story in this movie from Hollywood?

        • Beardslee

          Christabel is exactly the sort of person to lead the white feather movement. Shameful. Sylvia is, to me, the one with the most intellectual integrity of the three. I forgot about other daughter. I have to read up on them again, it’s been quite some time.

    • Kent Roby

      Imagine if starlets wore similar medals; those silver bars would be dragging the ground way past their mid-calf dresses and their nude pumps!

  • Fordzo a.k.a. Fancy Mukluks

    Cast off the shackles of yesterday! Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!

    • MoHub

      Our daughters’ daughters will adore us as they sing in grateful chorus:
      “Well done, Sister Suffragette!”

      I’ve always wanted to be Glynis Johns.

      • Sarah

        “Every woman should have a purse of her own.” I always liked Susan B Anthony, myself 🙂

        • Fordzo a.k.a. Fancy Mukluks

          My favorite SBA quote: “Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammeled womanhood.”

          Personally, I’d vote for birth control, but bikes are important to the feminist movement, too. Unless you are a fish.

  • Sophie

    Oooh, I love the coat. I have a thing for coats in general and this one is great. Love the large sleeves and the black detailing.
    Also, I find it very interesting to see behind the scenes in that one picture of the crowd, with the big white reflective panel.

  • Wendi126

    Meryl should always be on a balcony with her arms out.

  • NMMagpie

    Edwardian coat porn!

  • AnaRoW

    You reminded me of this quote from Tina Fey at the last Golden Globes: ‘Meryl Streep so brilliant in August: Osage County, proving that there
    are still great parts in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 60.’

    Seriously even if she did take a break, the only other options considered would be Mirren, Dench, Weaver, or Close. Honestly as I thought about it I’m surprised there are that many actresses over 60 that are still working often.

  • Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey) would have been good casting, though she’s not well-known enough in the US to carry a film. But I’m just glad these women are finally being celebrated.

    • bitchybitchybitchy

      I don’t know if it is available on DVD, but back in the early 1970’s Masterpiece Theater ran a fine series on the womens’ movement. It included some, for the time, rather brutal reenactiment of the force feeding of the suffragettes who went on hunger strike while they were under arrest. Perhaps Meryl’s movie will spark renewed interest in that series.

      • There was an episode of Masterpiece Theater’s Upstairs Downstairs that reenacted the force feeding of imprisoned suffragettes as well. It was grim and gruesome.

        • not_Bridget

          Upstairs Downstairs is back streaming on Netflix. The production budget was tiny–but the long story really puts Downton in the shade.

          By the way–the production budget meant most scenes were shot in the studio–not in a huge, authentic Great House. But the small-scale detail work–like Lady Margery’s costumes–was very well done….

          • I binged watched Upstairs Downstairs the moment it was posted on Netflix. I was sick in bed for a week with the flu. It was perfectly addicting for a bedridden soul.
            I then started watching Downton Abbey hot on the heels of completing UpDown. There was no comparison. UpDown is the show that Downton wished it were, and after season two I stopped watching Downton because it doesn’t have the je ne sais quoi that UpDown had. It was so well written, well acted, and well thought out.

        • Kit Jackson 1967

          Great show! My high school didn’t require European History. The one European history course I took in college barely made it to the 1600s, so I learned more English history than I should have from Upstairs Downstairs.

      • Beardslee

        We can only hope! I have the book that accompanied the series.

    • Corsetmaker

      The cast of Calendar Girls rounds up a lot of the top over 50 actresses in the UK. But I’d have gone for Fiona Shaw if I was in charge.

  • Anglow

    I would like to see more Helen and less Meryl for awhile.

  • Kent Roby

    Seeing the thumbnail, I thought it was Ben Delacreme as Maggie Smith in last night’s Snatch Game on RDR!

    • VicD

      I just posted the same thing … should have read all the way down first!

  • BKagainwiththesweatpants


  • Imasewsure

    She definitely has the face for this time of era…

  • kimmeister

    I do love that lace lapel.

  • MissusBee

    There should be a Tumblr of ‘Actress alternatives to Meryl Streep’. Just to give those poor time-starved industry execs a helping hand. Although getting an almost certain Oscar nom for your movie must be hard to resist.

    Agree all about the detailing. ‘Emancipated’ women couldn’t do silhouette as the corseted waist was The Enemy and showing skin (except evening décolleté) was some years and a big ol’ war away. So it’s all about embellishment. And vagina hats (the Louboutin of the ankle-covering era).

  • Jay

    I agree that Meryl Streep shouldn’t be the first choice for every plum role for women over 50. It seems comically churlish to criticize her, but I must admit that I’m not a fan of her recent work. Her acting style has become quite broad; it’s as if she’s in a theater playing to the people in the back row. Plus, her generation is filled with talent. Where’s the love for Anjelica Huston, Susan Sarandon, Sissy Spacek, and Sigourney Weaver?

    • bitchybitchybitchy

      Fine actresses all. I just wish that TPTB in movieland would recognize that films featuring women bring in audiences-as Cate Blanchett noted in her acceptance speech at the Oscars.

    • alyce1213

      Thank you for mentioning those women (especially Anjelica).
      Also . . . Annette Bening, Joan Allen, Charlotte Rampling, Imelda Staunton. There are so many fine actresses in that age range, British and American, besides Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren. Not that I don’t admire their bodies of work, but there are others.
      I agree with you. I’ve been a Meryl Streep fan since Holocaust and The Deer Hunter, but her work of late is, well, predictable and not her best.

  • heartbot

    I really love all the heavy, layered stuff. I find the roomy shapelessness appealing, from a comfort standpoint if not an aesthetic one.

  • Jen

    I know I’m being that person but they couldn’t have got a British woman for this role? Really?!

    • alyce1213

      They’re too busy playing Americans. 😉

  • Fuchaforever

    As much as I love her yes I agree, she should take a little break…. :/.

  • Sabin

    Don’t cry for me, Argentina.

    She looks amazing.

  • YoungSally

    Maybe they can musicalize this using tunes from Mary Poppins — specifically Glynis Johns’ — “Cast off the shackles of yesterday. Shoulder to shoulder into the fray. Our daughters’ daughters will adore us. And they’ll sing in grateful chorus. Well Done! Sister Suffragette!”

  • suburbanbohemian

    It’s not about Ms. Streep turning down work so more over 50 female actors can get plum roles, it’s about more plum roles for women over 50. Does anyone tell popular male actors over 50 to step aside?

    • You realize that’s pretty much exactly what we said in the post, right?

      And over-exposed actors of both genders constantly get the “I wish they would go away” complaint from the public.

    • Rand Ortega

      Actually, Liam Neeson is getting a lot of snark in the industry because of the many movies he’s in been lately & the fact they’re all pretty much the same riffs on “Taken”. While you can’t blame anyone for taking opportunities in a business where they’re known to be scarce, there is such a thing as fan fatigue.

      • bitchybitchybitchy

        It does seem as if we can expect a new Liam action film each winter.

        • Rand Ortega

          I’d love to see him do something that highlights his other amazing acting talents– an adult rom com– maybe set in the art world? I’m a sucker for art historians– since he was so wonderful in Love, Actually. Or a historical epic like Michael Collins or Rob Roy. Does the world need “Taken 3”? Really?

          • KinoEye

            Love Actually is one of the few Rom Coms that has a special place in my heart. Liam was wonderful with that little boy (on a related note, that actor was cast as a young Paul McCartney in a movie about John Lennon’s early days. He’s a good actor, but looked nothing like a young Paul). I’m all for seeing him in different roles. He’s very talented.

          • I was so freaked out when that kid showed up on Game of Thrones. I *just* started watching that damn show last weekend and I’m already almost done with season three–but not without a lot of eye covering and bouncing and squeaking and generally making a pest of myself to my viewing buddy. 😀

          • bitchybitchybitchy

            No, the world does not need “Taken 3”. I totally agree-I’d love to see Liam take on some more challenging roles. I’m wondering, would Michael Collins or Rob Roy get greenlighted today?
            BTW-have you seen Neeson in “Five Minutes of Heaven”? Mr. B3 and I stumbled across it on cable, and it’s a fine film-.

          • Rand Ortega

            That’s a great question. It really depends on the attachments. If a Ridley Scott or a Brad Pitt or someone of that caliber is on the team, yes. But even then the funding still could take years. “12 Years A Slave ” took nearly 5 & that was with Brad Pitt producing & as a featured actor.

  • ScarlettHarlot

    “She doesn’t have to play EVERY part available to an actress over 50.” – Yes, thank you! You know who could look good in this outfit? Melissa Leo.

  • YousmelllikeAnnaWintour

    Goodness, what would the Dowager Countess think?

  • crash1212

    Emmeline Pankhurst was a badass. Can’t wait to see this movie. Excellent casting and really good aging makeup happening here.

  • VicD

    Looks an awful lot like Ben de la Creme’s Maggie Smith … just sayin’!

  • Rand Ortega

    I love her. She moves everything she does up on the quality-o-meter. I always feel like I’m enjoying the chocolate on my hotel bed pillow when she’s in a film I’m watching.

    • bitchybitchybitchy

      I remember watching “Julie and Julia” and just wanting the movie to stay with Meryl as Julia-such a treat!

      • Rand Ortega

        I was positively offended every time the film cut from the wonderful, engrossing story & chemistry of Julia Child & her husband (played by the equally awesome Stanley Tucci) to those stupid boors played to annoying effect by Amy Adams & Chris Messina.

        • alyce1213

          It was like watching two completely different movies, wasn’t it? Made me so angry, one was so good, the other so nothing.

        • bitchybitchybitchy

          J’adore Stanley Tucci as Julia’s husband Paul. I remember hearing other members of the audience audibly sighing during Streep’s and Tucci’s scenes together.

  • Kate4queen

    I’m excited to see this movie. 🙂 btw, my husband unknowingly sat next to Meryl Streep on a flight from London to San Francisco once and had a lovely time chatting to her culminating in him asking her after about 10 hours, “so what do you do?” She said “I’m an actress” and carried on talking about something else. It took my dearly beloved about a minute more to work it out…he said she was charming, gracious and totally normal. LOL

    • Trickytrisha

      It must be so refreshing for famous people like Meryl to chat with regular people who aren’t fawning over them. Neat story.

    • CatherineRhodes

      Has your husband never been to the movies? Maybe you should uncuff him from the bedpost and let the boy out to play once in awhile.

      • Kate4queen

        You should’ve heard me when he met George Clooney and didn’t recognize him either… sigh Tech Nerd 🙂

        • CatherineRhodes

          That is so funny! I can (kind of) see a dude not recognizing Clooney, but Meryl must be one of the 10 most famous women in the world, no?

        • alyce1213

          Amazing. Who’s booking his flights –

          • Kate4queen

            just lucky I suppose LOL He also had NSync and JT beside him. He only knew who they were because they were featured in the inflight magazine LOL Apparently they were very polite. 🙂

          • Rand Ortega

            The Virgin LA to NY flights & back are packed with industry folks.

  • heuristicvalue

    I think she looks better in this than in her own outfits.


    Meryl Streep in a period drama is still the best thing EVER!! Sophies Choice… Out of Africa…. French Lts Woman….. She is sublime in these roles.

  • knik

    This film is going to be the death of me. My greatest (seriously, greatest – I’ve written letters to the editor about it) annoyance is the use of the word “suffragette” when the term is “suffragist”. A journalist coined the term “suffragette” to make fun of the women. It really annoys me when people use it in passing but how can you make a film about this subject and not do the research. Argh!

    • Susanna

      Yes, but Emmeline Pankhurst uses the term “suffragette” in “My Own Story”, and the newspaper of the WSPU from 1912 was called “The Suffragette”. So it may have started as a journalist poking fun, but became the term women used to describe themselves.

  • CatherineRhodes

    TLO: For all you know, Helen Mirren was offered the role first and turned it down. 🙂

  • KT

    That’s not quite how it works, my dears. Meryl probably hasn’t had to involve herself with casting directors in decades. Because her involvement generally boosts a film’s earnings by a significant margin, she is offered roles at a very early stage, either from producers or within her agency. So if Meryl agrees to attach herself to that project, YOU MAKE THAT PROJECT. The only reason to go to a Helen Mirren/Emma Thompson/etc at that stage is if you can’t afford Meryl, or if Meryl passes. Of course this isn’t a cold hard truth, but that’s usually how it goes. So it’s not quite as much about a lack of imagination as much as it’s about capitalism, therefore, follow the dollar signs… sad but true.

    • alyce1213

      I believe you’re right. Meryl is on board way before the casting director, possibly even the director, is hired, and that drives the film.

      • KT

        Yep. I can confirm that this has happened many times.

  • She is very brave. She always has been. No make-up, showing her age….it’s not easy. She has wanted to make a movie about the early days of the women’s right movements. Good for her.

  • Mrs. Julien

    The Edwardians had the BEST hats and hair ever.