Breaking Baz @ Cannes: Meryl Streep Reveals ‘Mamma Mia! 3’ Talks Are Imminent; French Actor Upstages Stars Of Opening-Night Film & Charles Finch Rebrands Production Company

EXCLUSIVE: Meryl Streep says that a meeting is “imminent” where she’ll hear about the proposals for her to return for a third helping of Mamma Mia!

The acting legend, honored with an Honorary Palme d’Or at an emotional presentation Tuesday night during the Cannes Film Festival’s opening ceremony the Grand Théâtre Lumière, confirmed that “of course, I want to do it,” but first she wants to hear how producer Judy Craymer has resolved the issue of how Streep’s character Donna Sheridan can return for MM3 when it was revealed during the during the 2018 sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again that Donna had died.

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Will there be some sort of resurrection, I wondered. “I don’t know how they’re going to do it. They have an idea. I haven’t heard it yet but it’s in [my diary] and I’m going to hear about it pretty soon,” the three-time Oscar-winning star told me when I went to chat with her at the festival’s opening-night Dîner d’ Ouverture at a splendidly renovated and refurbished Palm Beach.

“Of course I want to do it. I think folks love it,” she added.

(L-R) Juliette Binoche, Meryl Streep and Greta Gerwig onstage Tuesday night in Cannes
(L-R) Juliette Binoche, Meryl Streep and Greta Gerwig onstage Tuesday night in Cannes

Her longtime agent, CAA’s Kevin Huvane, seated next to her, cautioned, “We’re optimistic about it.”

And he noted Universal’s keenness to get it made.

Streep regrets letting Here We Go Again slip through her fingers, appearing in it just briefly. But she had a bundle of fun on the set meeting up again with the likes of Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper.

Some, rather unfairly, regard the Mamma Mia movies and stage show as fluff. They couldn’t be more wrong. I always argue that the Mamma Mia story is underpinned by the socioeconomic and feminist status of Donna, and later her daughter Sophie.

The films, bursting with the music of ABBA, had every right to be included in the lineup of Streep’s movies saluted at the Palais on Tuesday. Julia, The Deer Hunter, Manhattan, Kramer vs. Kramer, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Sophie’s Choice, Silkwood, Out of Africa, Plenty, Heartburn and others were lauded, quite rightly.

But the comedic funny bone that’s required  for musical comedy is harder to do effortlessly than a movie based on stories by John Fowles, William Styron and Karen Blixen.

And Streep loves to laugh. I once spent an afternoon with her in Telluride and she’s as funny as she is moving.

She’s currently finishing up on Only Murders in the Building and she has a ball doing it. “It’s so much fun,” she said. Then she joked that it’s a job she loves doing, so much so “they don’t have to pay me.”

I would suggest that Disney not try and take advantage of that quote.

Receiving the Palme d’Or from Juliette Binoche was “overwhelming” for both of them, Streep told me.

Binoche was unable to hold back tears as she spoke of how vital Streep has been for women in the industry.

Streep admitted that it was tough for her to control her emotions too.

“I was out of my body,” she cried.

Her legs felt wobbly and “the dress was shaking” but she determined to hold back tears “because I wanted to speak. I wanted to say what I wanted to say,” she explained.

“I wanted to thank the people I love because no actor gets up on that stage on their own … we collect all the accolades but it’s the writer, the director, the make-up designer, the cinematographer, the cast, the crew, the publicist,” pausing she looked at me and uttered, “You” with great authority.

“Yes, you, everybody that makes this icon. I’m the one that gets all the roses thrown at me,” but there’s a team that makes it happen.

She smiled at Huvane. They’ve worked together for over three decades.

Her hair and make-up designer have been together longer. “It’s 49 years of working with Roy Helland,” she said of the man who won an Oscar, with Mark Coulier, for achievements in makeup on The Iron Lady.

Mamma Mia! Here Comes Streep, again.

A Second Act for Manuel Guillot

Manuel Guillot is 55 years and 5 days old. At least he was Tuesday night. Today he’s 55 years and 6 days old.

The French actor keeps track of the days because his work as a thespian is measured that way. He’s lucky if he gets an odd day here and there on a film. He remembers working on director Julian Schnabel’s 2018 film At Eternity’s Gate and on a Norman Jewison movie. “Little parts in a big movie. One day shooting, two days maximum,” he shrugged.

Until six months ago he didn’t have an agent. His longtime rep was planning to retire, so Guillot wrote and sent letters and show reels to agents across France. Not one response.

He sent out another batch of mail and Anne Legrand of Paris-based REACT Talents liked what she saw and took him on.

Casting directors working for filmmaker Quentin Dupieux liked what they saw as well.

Two days after meeting with Dupieux, last December, the father of three sons found himself working on The Second Act, which opened the Cannes Film Festival. The film put Guillot’s counting system out of whack.

Manuel Guillot, discovered at last
Manuel Guillot, discovered at last

He worked for 13 days on location in the Dordogne with the film’s leads Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, Vincent Lindon and Raphaël Quenard.

“It feels like I was just born as an actor,” he said, smiling. “It’s so long that I’ve been working for this, that I feel like God turned to me and said ,’Now it’s your turn, man.’ ”

Guillot was just 20 when he travelled to New York to study with Stanislavsky disciple Sonia Moore. She instructed him in all manner of acting disciplines. He puts them to good use in The Second Act, where he plays Stéphane, a painfully nervous wine-splashing waiter. He’s excellent, and steals every scene he’s in.

Frankly, he stole the whole film. He received the loudest cheers when his face popped up on screen during the ritual post-credit standing ovation. The audience, I sensed, had little enthusiasm for The Second Act, apart that is for Guillot.

His day has finally arrived.

A Rabbit’s Foot Brings Luck for Finch & Partners

Charles Finch, founder of Finch & Partners, has revealed that he’s “repositioning” his film company Standalone Pictures as Rabbit’s Foot Films.

He explained that Rabbit’s Foot Films will develop the Standalone slate that incudes projects at Columbia Pictures and Netflix.

The move follows the success of Finch & Partners’ A Rabbit’s Foot film and art magazine.

Finch noted that Rabbit’s Foot Films projects include a movie based on August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, to be directed by Josie Rourke  with a screenplay written by Sara-Ella Ozbek that follows the contemporary adaptation written by Polly Stenham wrote that was staged at the National Theatre six years ago.

Rourke’s also developing another project with Rabbit’s Foot Films for Columbia. There are also plans to make films with Fernando Meirelles, Christopher Hampton and Ginevra Elkann.

A Rabbit’s Foot magazine has tracked several young and upcoming filmmakers, which has prompted Finch and Finch & Partners managing director Claire Ingle Finch to create a bursary “that will help develop young artists and filmmakers in the UK.”

“We’re going to put in £100,000 a year over five years, so that’s half a million pounds to help boost the careers of our film artists,” Charles Finch told me.

Charles Finch in Cannes
Charles Finch in Cannes

The Finch organization will be hosting two events during the festival.

On Friday, May 17, the annual Charles Finch Filmmakers Dinner will celebrate 100 Years of Columbia Pictures [Sony Pictures Entertainment] with cocktails and a private dinner at Mamo Michelangelo, the lively, fun restaurant spot in Antibes.

On Monday, May 20, A Rabbit’s Foot will host a small dinner at Fred L’Cailler to honor the career of director Paul Schrader and actor and filmmaker Valeria Golino, and to celebrate issue 8 of A Rabbit’s Foot which focuses on film noir.

Last year, Harrison Ford attended with Calista Flockhart and they let their hair down; they were the life and soul of the party.

A Rabbit’s Foot was named after Ernest Hemingway’s belief that for luck you carried a rabbit’s foot in your right pocket. “Hemingway wrote,” said Finch, “that if the rabbit foot’s claws got to you through the lining of your pocket you knew your luck was still there.”

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