Saturday, October 22, 2022

Recasting 1993 (supporting) "In the Name of the Father"

I've always wanted to see Meryl work alongside Daniel Day-Lewis. For a brief time I considered The Age of Innocence as a possible recasting option (which would've also covered working with Martin Scorsese), but ultimately, no role in that movie seemed realistic. Same with Lincoln. While Sally Field and Meryl are similar ages, Sally is too perfect a fit (even though she's a fair amount older than Day-Lewis and Mary Todd was a fair amount younger than Lincoln) for that role to be realistic in my mind either. 

Jim Sheridan's 1993 biopic of the Guildford Four, In the Name of the Father, offers a nice option to imagine teaming Streep with Day-Lewis. The film follows Gerry Conlon, an Irishman from Belfast who is wrongly imprisoned in 1970s Great Britain after being convicted for IRA bombings. In a role originated by Emma Thompson, Streep would've portrayed attorney Gareth Peirce, who uncovers evidence that leads to Gerry's release and exoneration. Sadly, Gerry's father, who had been sent to prison on terrorist charges related to Gerry's conviction, died in prison before the convictions could be overturned. 

The role is actually rather small. Peirce is shown early on in the film listening to Conlon's tape recording of his side of the story. But we don't really see much of her again until the last quarter of the film. There are a handful of brief scenes with Day-Lewis, which is nice, but the meat and potatoes of the performance comes in the courtroom, where Peirce unveils the new-found evidence and embarrasses the crooked Inspector, Robert Dixon. 

It's an emotional, passionate scene, and Thompson plays it very well. I don't think we've ever seen Meryl as a lawyer in a courtroom scene. It's a genre I've been a fan of for a long time (A Few Good Men, Primal Fear, lots of John Grisham movies), so would be fun to see Meryl sink her teeth into a role with the kind of smart punch such scenes often provide. 

I realize this is the second film in a row I've chosen that would require Meryl to do a British accent. It's also the second film in a row that arguably wouldn't have gotten a ton of notice had it not been for a very intense scene during the film's denouement. No matter. They're both great roles in great scenes in great movies. It's a win-win.

In the Name of the Father was universally acclaimed by critics and earned over $65 million at the box office against a budget of only $13 million. It received seven Academy Award nominations (winning none), including Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Supporting Actor (for Pete Postlethwaite's stunning performance as Conlon's father Giuseppe). Thompson earned a nod for Supporting Actress as well, losing out to Anna Paquin for another recasted Streep film, The Piano


  1. I suspected you were going to recast "In The Name Of The Father"! This really is an excellent movie which still resonates today and as an Irishman myself I found it compelling and convincing. I agree with you about this being the key scene for the character.

    For my choice I planned for this eventuality and so will opt for the role of Secret Service Agent Lilly Raines, played originally by Rene Russo, in "In The Line Of Fire". This movie is a favourite of my sister so we've watched it multiple times when I was younger and its still enjoyable and has rewatch value.

    I thought it would not only be interesting to see Meryl paired with Clint Eastwood in a complete change-of-genre from their classic (yet underrated) "The Bridges Of Madison County" but also in a role we don't expect from her.
    Like "Father", this movie was also extremely well received and a BO hit. I also would love to see Meryl in an action/thriller role with smart writing and direction like this.

    1. Great choice, Charlie! Another one I haven't seen and I'm surprised by that as it seems the kind of movie I would've liked as a teenager. Hard to believe it did that well with a fair amount of critics notice also, yet totally slipped under my radar.

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