Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in the film version of 'August: Osage County'? BIGGEST. MOVIE. EVER.

Julia-Roberts-StreepImage Credit: Tony Barson/FilmMagic.com; Neilson Barnard/Getty ImagesEW has confirmed the news from Deadline that Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep are in talks to star as daughter and mother in the film adaptation of the Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning play August: Osage County, which is obviously the biggest news ever. Think I’m exaggerating? Okay, let me put it this way: Our (arguably) greatest female movie star and our (inarguably) greatest living actress will play daughter and mother in an adaptation of the best piece of American theater since Angels in America. See. Now you’re convinced. This will be the BIGGEST. MOVIE. EVER.

Yes, granted, it’s based on a three-and-a-half-hour play set entirely in an Oklahoma country house in which a single extended family — led by its pill-popping matriarch Violet (that would be Streep’s character) and her headstrong eldest daughter Barbara (that would be Roberts’ character) — grieve the mysterious death of its patriarch and then proceed to (verbally) rip each other apart. On paper, that doesn’t exactly scream “box office gold.” And, I know, I know, it’s got a serious title problem.

But ask anyone — anyone — who has seen this play, and they will tell you it is one of the most electrifying pieces of entertainment in any medium they have ever seen — and if they don’t, don’t trust their taste ever again. (Cue message board contrarians in three…two…) Playwright Tracy Letts adapted his script for the big screen himself, so it will retain its juicy bite and thrilling velocity. And as for Julia, she was perfectly great in that tough little film Closer (2004),¬†which was also based on an award-winning play.

If there ever was a feature film role that would finally —¬†finally! — get Streep her long-deserved third Oscar, it is Violet Weston. The role won Deanna Dunagan a Tony (and Estelle Parsons some of the best reviews of her nearly 50-year career). It is a tour-de-force part of the highest order, and I cannot wait to see what Streep will do with it.

So, P-Dubs, I’ve obviously convinced you of this movie’s invincibility, right? Do you think Julia will make a convincing Barbara? Who do you think should play mousy middle daughter Ivy, and daffy youngest daughter Karen? Is TV impresario John Wells (ER, The West Wing) — who will only just release his well-regarded feature film directorial debut, The Company Men, this month — the best choice to direct the film? And since we can all at least agree that there has to be a better title than August: Osage County, what would you title it instead?

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  • Keith

    I’m thrilled they are doing a movie. Streep is a no brainer. I love Julia. I’m just not convinced she has the chops to pull this off. But maybe working with Streep will raise her game.

  • Janice Leon

    I love this casting and hate it at the same time.

    HATE: Both Julia and Meryl are a little too young to play their respective roles.

    LOVE: Meryl is THE greatest living actress and Julia is THE greatest living movie star and the idea of the two of them together is AMAZING. Seriously, AMAZING.

    HATE: John Wells is directing this? He is entirely too unproven to be given this type of material. He may have done great things with ER, but I’d much rather a bigger and better known director be given this.

    LOVE: That if Meryl does with this role what should be done with this role there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that she does not win her 3rd Oscar. There is no way she won’t win.

    HATE: I do hate that the original cast isn’t in this. They were phenomenal, but I suppose I understand the desire to have stars that are both good AND bankable.

    LOVE: I have heard that Julia Roberts has wanted to tackle this role for years. When Julia is inspired and really wants a role (like Erin Brockovich) she works hard and nails that damn thing and she proved in Closer that she most definitely has the chops when inspired.

    • Jo

      iviolet= 65
      meryl=61

      Barbare=46
      Julia=42

      thats not really that bad, especially for hollywood

      • Janice Leon

        Yeah but Julia just CONVINCINGLY played a woman in her 30’s in Eat Pray Love.

      • anna

        She didn’t convince me. The first thing I thought when I read this is, Julia Roberts is too old to be Meryl Streep’s daughter.

      • paige

        shouldve been Judi Dench and Meryl Streep!

      • djm

        Sorry Anna, but HUH? There is a 19 year age difference between the two of them, so yeah, Julia cound indeed be Meryl’s daughter.

      • Tori

        I agree djm. Plus, with the art of makeup they could make Meryl look older. Hasn’t been the first time.

  • Eliza

    Obviously Meryl Streep would be great, but Julia Roberts in this role?? Helllll no. I saw “August: Osage County” and that part is NOT a Julia Roberts type. I don’t care if people think she’s lovely (I personally don’t), she just always plays herself; she can’t really inhabit someone that different from herself like Streep can.

    • Janice Leon

      She can’t? Did you not see Closer? How was that anything like any other part Julia has ever played and it was one of her most well-reviewed performances.

      • ej

        well said

      • it’s one performance in a 20 year career, though.

      • Shell

        I think Julia was good in Closer, but not great. Someone like Laura Linney would be better than Julia in this new film, in my opinion. I agree with Eliza.

      • Zo

        I saw Julia in “Closer.” Not awful, but definitely not proof that she can tackle Barbara.

      • Melissa

        She rocked the house in Closer! Several years after that film has been out, her performance holds up as the best. It’s haunting. She hopped in and out of lusty emotion, one minute being cold and reserved and the next being emotional and yearning. She ran the gambit.

        CinematicalSee All .CategoriesNews Reviews Interviews Sci Fi Horror .Their Best Role: Julia Roberts
        .6 Comments
        By Monika Bartyzel (Subscribe to Monika Bartyzel’s posts)
        Posted Apr 23rd 2010 12:02PM
        Filed under: Fandom, Their Best Role, CinematicalPrint this page|EmailShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on DiggShare on Lifestream

        Before there was Sandra Bullock intermingling rom-com fame and Oscar-winning drama, there was Julia Roberts. After one stint on a television show and an uncredited role in 1987’s Firehouse, she made a big leap towards success with two films in 1988 — Satisfaction and Mystic Pizza. Neither was a classic, to be sure, but both served as the perfectly effective stepping stone to stardom. Within a year, she had a co-starring role in Steel Magnolias. A year after that came Pretty Woman. Once Edward Lewis snapped Vivian Ward’s fingers in that jewelry case and she laughed, Julia Roberts’ fame was solidified.

        What followed were the usual reactionary follow-ups to blockbuster roles. She flat-lined, slept with the enemy, and dealt with dying young. Then came Tinkerbell flittering, law studies, and journalism. Even years of so-so roles weren’t able to slow her stardom, which was completely solidified in 2000, when she beat out Ellen Burstyn for the Best Actress Oscar. Erin Brockovich was far from the most worthy win — she just took her ultra-famous sass and rom-com charisma and applied it to a serious role — nevertheless, it changed her career.

        It wasn’t that Roberts became the “serious” actress looking for only Academy-worthy work. Instead, she allowed herself to mix play with new cinematic adventures. Gigs in The Mexican and Ocean’s Eleven were matched with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Full Frontal. She seemed dedicated to stretching her craft and intermingling big and low-budget features. And then came her best role — the one that helped spark her brief Hollywood hiatus while offering a whole different side of Roberts.

        In 2004, she starred in Mike Nichols’ Closer alongside Natalie Portman, Jude Law, and Clive Owen. Focused on the adult interplay between two couples, the film revealed a whole new side to the actress, uncovering untapped talent. Rather than adding spunk to every scene, shining that big smile, and attempting to steal the stage with that same performance under a different character name, Roberts’ Anna is subdued, conflicted, and still partially commanding. She was no longer Julia Roberts, Hollywood star, but photographer Anna — a woman strong, yet weak, determined, yet conflicted, all brewing together without the smallest trace of flamboyance.

        In Pictures at a Revolution, actress Elizabeth Wilson (Mrs. Braddock in The Graduate) is quoted as saying: “One of Mike’s great gifts is as a casting director. He can somehow pick up on the essence and spirit of a person, and study it, and then tap into it.” It’s as if Nichols wiped away the obvious and false “essence” in Roberts that we’ve all come to expect, and tapped into what no other director could find or foster.

        Anna hops in and out of lusty emotion, one minute being cold and reserved, the next, emotional and yearning. She’s not a character who comes off particularly well, likable, or relatable on paper, but on the screen, you can almost understand the neuroses behind Anna’s actions, because of every turn of the lip, move of the hands, blinking of the eyes. There’s a lovely intermingling of responses and attitudes. At times, it seems as if Anna is wary of the outside world — that she distrusts men, and does her darnedest to avoid their inevitably troublesome advances. Other times, it looks as if she’s just avoiding herself, knowing that she’ll make the wrong choice. Anna keeps running head-first into trouble, perhaps because, as Larry (Clive Owen) says, she is dedicated to self-sabotage, or because she just doesn’t trust her emotions. We never find out for sure, but there are a number of possibilities dictated not only by the script, but by Roberts’ reactions in each scene.

        Happy, wary, self-loathing, cold, desperate, wry, sweet, careful, or daring, each aspect of Anna flowed into the next naturally – and Julia Roberts should have won the Oscar that year. Her performance was amazing.

      • Goodness Gracious

        ^This mess calls for a word limit^

      • @Goodness Gracious

        and maybe ew shouldn’t allow people to copy and paste full articles!

      • scrutinizer

        SHELL IS RIGHT ABOUT LAURA LINNEY. AND AS MUCH AS I LOVE MERYL, AFTER SEEING THE PLAY WITH ESTELLE PARSONS WHO’S ALMOST 80, I THINK SHE IS TOO YOUNG TO PLAY THE MATRIARCH. ELLEN BURSTYN WOULD BE A BETTER CHOICE. JUST REVISIT HER GUT WRENCHING PORTRAYAL OF A SENIOR CITIZEN DRUG ADDICT IN “REQUIEM FOR A DREAM” AND YOU’LL SEE WHAT I MEAN! ELLEN IS NOT THE BIG HOLLYWOOD TICKET NAME LIKE MERYL SO I’M SURE SHE’S NOT EVEN BEING CONSIDERED. TOO BAD THAT’S THE WAY THE BIZ HAS TO BE :(

    • Natalie

      Erin Brokovich was nothing like Julia Roberts either, which is why she won an Oscar. She’s an amazing actress who can play anything.

  • Templar

    About time these two did something together. I’ve seen the play, and I might have preferred the daughter’s part to go to Catherine Zeta Jones. I’m sure Julia will rise to the occasion and chew up the scenery with the best of them [ the best being Meryl].

    • AQS

      I have a problem against Catherine Zeta Jones for this role. I was also toying with the idea of Kate Winslet, but I want an ENTIRELY American cast for his huge American tale. This is all-American theatre, and as a purist, I don’t want (phenomenally talented) actresses from across the pond throwing on accents to play part of a sprawling middle American family.

  • Henry

    Kathy Bates as Mattie Fae. Julianne Moore as Ivy. Elizabeth Banks as Karen.

    The title is the play. Otherwise it’ll end up as generic a title as “About last night…” vs. “Sexual Perversity in Chicago”

    • BW

      I completely agree!

    • VVR

      I cant see Kathy Bates as Mattie Fae. Jessica Lange, who looks like Meryl Streetp, should be Mattie Fae. Second choice, would be Sissy Spacek. Third, Susan Sarandon. Laura Linney would be great as Ivy, and Mary Louise Parker as Karen. Ian McKellan as Beverly, and Robert DeNiro as Charlie

    • scrutinizer

      DEFINITELY KATHY BATES!….ANOTHER OVERLOOKED ACTRESS WHO DOESN’T GET THE ROLES SHE DESERVES.

  • Kim

    Ugh.

    I saw all three B’way Violets (Dunagan, Parsons, Rashad) and all were phenomenal, but I have no doubt Streep will be just as good. I saw both Barbaras as well (Morton, Day) and I understand they need a movie star for box office draw, but not in that role. There are several other major female roles that could be inhabited by stars that don’t require what Barbara requires. I would’ve liked to see Johanna Day get the film role. I cannot fathom Julia Roberts pulling it off.

    • Zo

      I LOVED Johanna Day. I never got to see Morton. But Day blew my mind. Her performance was in the top tier that I’ve EVER seen. Along with Fiona Shaw’s “Medea”…
      I saw an understudy for Parsons on Broadway, and I thought she was actually better than when I actually SAW Parsons on tour.

      • Kim

        I have to say I saw Morton AFTER Day (when the London production closed and Amy Morton returned), and I was shocked because I thought Johanna Day was LEAGUES better. So glad to hear someone else was blown away by her!

    • Brian

      I just don’t understand that after producing and starring in films, being nominated for 3 oscars and winning one, and continuing to turn in solid performancies, why Julia Roberts still receives such venemous hate. You don’t accomplish what she has by being talentless. It’s not like she had a fluke oscar win. She has a body of work that is undeniable.

      • KarlHall

        Proof: Eat, Pray, Love.

        Every time she does a good film, she just drags herself down again. EXACTLY like Sandra Bullock, if I do say so myself.

        Hopefully SB learns not to do some random feminist comedy after her successes in The Blind Side and Closer.

      • KarlHall

        Also, Valentine’s Day BEFORE EPL.

        AT least SB is still in modern memory due to the recent success of TBS. Erin Brockovich was, what, 2000? Pretty Woman 1991?

    • LL

      I totally agree! Day was excellent in this part but Julia Roberts?! She is very overrated and not a good actress at all. She is a personality who relies on a few tricks like a bad laugh and a big ego. It is just so dull and so 1990’s Hollywood. She ruined Eat Pray Love. They should have seriously cast Reece or Jennifer Anniston for that one. She was just too old and out of touch with the character. If they are going to cast a star for August Osage County they should cast Sandra Bullock.The part is about a woman going through a divorce – her husband’s been sleeping round with students. And she and Meryl have already shown use they have witty & wacky chemistry. I’d really rather see a real actress like Day- like how the Weinsteins use to cast back in the day.

    • Mike

      I so agree. Julia does not have the chops. GIve it to Laura Linney

  • annie

    I’m disappointed. I say, cast the originals. Why not?

    • Josh

      Because that is how it’s done. If this is what they have to do to introduce this masterpiece to millions of people who haven’t seen it yet, then we should all thank our lucky stars it’s happening. I wish people wouldn’t act so naive about why they cast big names in movies as opposed to their equally talented but lesser known thespian counterparts. It’s business. It happens.

      • Jared

        I agree. Even with Streep’s, and to a lesser extent Roberts’, resurgent box office pull, this is by no means a film that is going to make the studio a ton of money. It is a prestige piece, and if they don’t cast names like Streep and Roberts to pull in some money, the film probably wouldn’t get made at all.

        I am all for Streep, and agree that it may finally bring her a third Oscar (which she probably should have earned for ‘Doubt’). I personally do not see Roberts in that role. She will really have to dig deep to convince me she’s the best choice. I agree that it is unfortunate the original cast can’t commit their performances to film (I saw them and they were all AMAZING), but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

      • KarlHall

        Yeah. Well, Streep should have won for Doubt, but, really, it was SB’s ONE and ONLY chance to win. So she might as well win it, since Streep will get nominated again years after.

    • ej

      because nobody would go to see it..therefore no budget

    • tj

      some theater actors are not cut out for film just like some film actors are not cut out for the theater. Prime example of this is the film version of the Producers the musical.

    • LL

      That would be SOOOOOO Awesome!!!

  • Matthew

    Nicole Kidman for Barbara, Maria Bello for Ivy.

    • Chris

      Nicole could really use a boost to her film career. This role would be great for her.

      • AQS

        Nicole is already doing ‘Rabbit Hole,’ and is allegedly absolutely wonderful… Like, Oscar buzz wonderful. We’ll see when the film is finally released in December!

    • LL

      Nicole for Barbara and Gwenyth for Ivy

  • jfms777

    Casting coup of the year. Oh yes, Meryl. And Julia would do something worthwhile (10 years after Erin). But
    I wonder how they will handle the (star) billing.

    • bootsycolumbia

      It should be Streep and then Roberts.

  • chris-leo

    i love julia. i think she’ll be just great. HOWEVER, i’d love to see this role go to jolie richardson or anne heche. mamie gummer would be great as the mousy middle daughter. i’m not familiar with this director, but for something THIS HUGE, i’d feel better if we had someone fool-proof, like Mike Nichols or perhaps Mike Leigh.

    • Trishka

      Can’t forget Laura Linney. I think she’d be perfect as Meryl’s daughter.

      • Kim

        Linney is a good call — she’s pretty but not movie-star pretty (and frankly Barbara isn’t pretty at all), and can own any stage.

    • Skeptical

      Mamie Gummar would NEVER be believalbe as Meryl Streep’s daughter. Ridiculous!

      • tj

        LOL,

      • m1

        I hope this is sarcasm.

      • KarlHall

        Real-life daughter-mother relationships don’t nearly play out on screen as well as they’re supposed to.

    • KarlHall

      Mike Nichols – absolutely for this piece. What he did for Angels in America is unforgettable… will forever be that way.

    • LL

      Ivy isn’t mousy really she is suppressed but lets it all out at the end. So you got to have someone with some acting chops to play her. She has such a rich emotional life going on deep down. It is a difficult and challenging part that could be amazing with the right actress.

  • ej

    Monica Potter and Julia Roberts look so much alike…an she is proving her acting skills on Parenthood..she may be a good choice

    • Chris

      She’s terrible on Parenthood.

    • Sarah

      Agreed. Maybe it’s the writing of her character, but good God is she obnoxious and nagging.

    • Trishka

      I always thought they looked remarkably alike (Monica and Julia). Can’t believe they haven’t been case as siblings yet.

    • BrandonK

      Yeah, Monica Potter does look like Julia. And Kyra Sedgwick could play the other sister (again)!

  • Andrea D

    Julia Roberts is overrated. Get Cate Blanchett!!!

    • Janice Leon

      Yeah it would make absolutely NO sense to cast a non-American in the role of Barbara. NONE.

      • Andrea D

        Cate Blanchett can play anything. Are you someone who thinks Meryl Streep had no business in Sophie’s Choice???

    • LL

      Both are overrated! NO NO NO for Cate Balnchett not for this part, nor Julia Roberts. Laura Linney could definitely play this character. This is a part for an actress who can do character work which nixes Julia. Cate is not down to earth enough for this part.She would be acting down to earth.
      They both act like one eye is in the mirror.

  • ej

    tilda swinton?

    • fiona

      I salute the idea of Tilda Swinton being in everything.

  • JH

    I love Julia Roberts, but this role is all kinds of wrong for her. Can anyone who knows the script/play imagine her roaring “I’M IN CHARGE NOW!” and pull it off?

    • Zo

      I love that part… Everyone in the audience always is stunned/nervous laugh/gasp. It’s electrifying, squirm-inducing pleasure!

    • AQS

      There’s no way ANY actress could pull “I’M IN CHARGE NOW” off on screen. Honestly. The reason that moment works is because of the medium, that line roared out on stage, the cut to black that follows right after she finishes her line… This is still my favorite Broadway production to date. Nothing compares. Nothing.

    • LL

      Excellent point!

      • LL

        That was Excellent point to JH’s comment.

  • Chris

    They look more like sisters than mother and daughter.

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