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Margaret model for Meryl

Venice, Sept. 3: Meryl Streep described yesterday how she drew inspiration from Margaret Thatcher for her portrayal of a high-flying American senator in the new political thriller The Manchurian Candidate.

The Oscar-winning actor said she had looked to the former Prime Minister’s style, in particular her wardrobe, to play Ellie Prentiss Shaw, a powerful senator who connives to secure the vice-presidential nomination for her son.

“The idea of two quite prominent earrings, the necklace and a pin (brooch) influenced me,” she told a press conference at the Venice film festival.

While many suspected the parallels go deeper — noting Streep’s character’s devotion to her controversy-prone son — any more profound similarities with a real person were purely coincidental, she said.

“Margaret Thatcher is very constrained. My character’s like a locomotive.” She added: “In England everyone thinks I’m doing Margaret Thatcher. In the US they think it’s Hilary Clinton.”

The disclaimer is just as well. In the movie, a remake of the 1962 John Frankenheimer film starring Frank Sinatra, Streep plays a deeply corrupt politician who, in cahoots with a giant corporation, Manchurian Global, will stop at nothing to hold power.

Director Jonathan Demme said it was an issue which appeared to have struck a chord with audiences around the world. “There are far too many rich people running far too many countries who are too closely linked to big business,” he said. Calling for a “return to a richer sense of democracy”, he added: “There is a trend away from any government by the people, for the people.”

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