Image 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?