Meryl Streep credits both a gay man and a transgender person with leaving an indelible mark on her record-breaking Hollywood career.
The Oscar-winning actress, 67, recalled those early artistic influences in a wide-ranging interview with The Advocate on Aug. 5 to promote her new movie, “Florence Foster Jenkins,” which hits theaters Aug. 12.
“My piano teacher and his lover lived in a little house in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and I would go once a week to have my piano lesson,” she told The Advocate. Their house, she said, was both “magical” and “an entry into exotica.”
Although the couple “were not acknowledged, and not free to be themselves” in public, Streep said her mother inadvertently stressed the importance of acceptance early on.
“My mother, who was born in 1915, never said — ‘the boys,’ she called them — she never said ‘the boys are gay,’ or that there was anything that she disapproved of,” she said. “But it was just that this is a different life, and… they were living under the cover of the love of the people who loved them.”
The star also opened up about her childhood music teacher, who previously presented as male and later came out as transgender.
“It was very, very unusual,” she said.
“Florence Foster Jenkins” is loosely based on the life of an early 20th century socialite who is often considered one of the worst singers to have ever lived, but nonetheless fulfilled her dream of selling out New York’s Carnegie Hall. (Watch the trailer for the film below)
Jenkins’s accompanist, Cosmé McMoon, is portrayed as a closeted gay man in the film. In the interview, Streep said she believed Cosmé’s respect for Jenkins despite her less-than-stellar vocal talents would’ve been mutual.
“The art world has always embraced people of every kind and every manner of expression,” she said. “I think Florence is someone who embraced that world so thoroughly; I can’t imagine that she would have disapproved of Cosmé or in any way not loved him as much as she did.”