An imagined roundtable with the eldest 2010 Oscar nominees
Today, we imagine a talk with the five eldest Oscar nominees of 2010. In this roundtable we consider what the conversation might be, were these actors to speak only lines from their movies. And so, please join us for dinner and a chat about life's work and finding passion in doing what you love with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, both 60; Helen Mirren, 64; Morgan Freeman, 72; and Christopher Plummer, 80. (And as we imagine our dinner, Plummer joins us by cell phone from Los Angeles, and Mirren, in London, via Skype.) Their movies and memorable lines inspire us.
Interviewer: Can I get anyone a drink? The waitress was by a few minutes before you got here.
Meryl Streep: Is there some reason that my coffee isn't here? Has she died or something?
Jeff Bridges: Uh, yeah. White Russian?
Interviewer: We'll order dinner in a minute. Christopher Plummer's driving in Hollywood; I know he's hungry.
Bridges: The In-and-Out Burger is on Camrose.
Interviewer: Uh, thanks. Okay, so, let's talk about life before acting.
Streep: I had a farm in Africa.
Interviewer: And now? I know, Ms. Streep, you seem to have no down time. What about you folks? What do you do to keep your mind focused between acting jobs? Isn't it crucial to keep the mind busy as we age?
Morgan Freeman: Get busy living, or get busy dying.
Helen Mirren: I'm the perfect servant. I have no life.
Bridges: I make maps.
(The waitress finally brings the drinks.)
Streep: By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.
Bridges: Environment — hostile.
(The waitress, looking defeated, leaves.)
Interviewer: Perhaps they're like your children and you love them all equally, but of all your films, can you choose your favorite?
Streep: Nein! Ich kann nicht wählen! Ich kann nicht wählen!
Freeman: What the hell kind of language is that?
Interviewer: Well, on the subject of dialects, as Ms. Streep does so well, Mr. Plummer, do I detect an accent?
(Rustling sounds heard from Plummer's car as he eats.)
Christopher Plummer: Fraulein?
Bridges: Nope. Just American.
Mirren: Smile and wave. That's what you get paid for. Smile and wave.
Interviewer: How do you feel about your odds of winning? At a certain point, we know the Academy seems to favor its eldest actors. Is that a mistake?
Freeman: Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.
Mirren: There's been a change, some shift in values. When you no longer understand your people . . . maybe it is time to hand it over to the next generation.
(With that, Mirren's Skype connection terminates.)
Interviewer: Can you recall an "aha" moment in your film careers? Mr. Freeman, perhaps in The Shawshank Redemption.
Streep: No, no. That wasn't a question.
Freeman: The first night's the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing s--- they throw on you . . . that's when you know it's for real.
(The bread basket is laid down. Freeman reaches for the lone bread stick, but Streep quickly grabs it away, jostling the table. She looks at Freeman with intent.)
Streep (with a certainly in her voice that seems God-given): You will lose.
Bridges: Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!
Plummer (hearing the commotion): Fraulein, were you this much trouble at the Abbey?
Streep (crying): I have doubts. I have such doubts. (She lets go of the bread stick.)
Freeman: You don't say!
Streep: Do you always talk in bumper stickers?
(A well-dressed young woman sits down at an adjacent table; rustling sounds emanate from her Chanel bag.)
Bridges: Hey, nice marmot.
(A waiter drops a plate of ravioli at the pass-through, and thinking no one is watching, scrapes much of it off the rug and back onto the plate.)
Streep: If no one's in the kitchen, who's to see?
Freeman: I did the same thing to Gandhi. He didn't eat for three weeks.
Bridges: That rug really tied the room together.
(Dinner is served.)
Streep: Bon appetit!
Interviewer: Speaking of Julie & Julia, how does it feel to be nominated 16 times?
(Streep is now ignoring all at the roundtable but Bridges.)
Streep (to Bridges): You know, you really are . . . fantastic.
Bridges: I want to talk about how bad you make this room look.
Interviewer: Any final thoughts for readers of a certain age?
Plummer: I would like to sing for you now, a love song. I know you share this love. I pray that you will never let it die. (And he begins to sing: Edelweiss, Edelweiss . . .)
Freeman: Yessir, yessir, done gone around the bend a little bit. Well now, that'll happen as they get old.
Streep: In the end, we all die. Unless you change.
Bridges: Hey. You stick with me kid. You're gonna live forever.
Interviewer: What are you —
Streep: Please bore someone else with your questions.
Streep (to Bridges): Do you poke smot?
Interviewer: Check, please.