Who would have thought the AMPAS tribute to Vanessa Redgrave in London last night would turn a little saucy?
First it was the 74-year-old acting icon herself, talking about her research with transsexuals when she made the 1986 film Second Serve, about Renee Richards. “I was really ignorant, I’ve always thought maybe I’m bisexual and I’ve never tried it out.” Meryl Streep, seated in the front row, could be seen raising her hand to volunteer.
And then Dame Eileen Atkins took the stage to talk about how she met Redgrave in the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the pair of them took a rather unexotic week-long holiday to a spare bedroom in someone’s council house in Swansea, Wales. One highlight of the trip was Redgrave coming back to their room with a stack of movie magazines, and asking Atkins, “Why aren’t we film stars?” Atkins responded: “Are you kidding? Look at us. We’re serious actresses. And neither of us has tits.” Years later when Atkins saw Redgrave in Blow-Up, she thought, “My God, she’s done it.” (That would be referring to becoming a film star, nothing to do with her chest.)
Streep didn’t talk about any of Redgrave’s body parts, but she did become so animated during her speech that she triggered a chaste wardrobe malfunction. She was waving her hands around so much that the back clasp of her red tunic came unhitched. “I just broke my dress, I’m so emotional!” she said with a hearty trademark Streep laugh, before twirling around to show the crowd her exposed back. She also talked about how she and Redgrave shared pitchers of maragaritas on the set of The House of the Spirits — oh to be a fly on the wall at that cantina…
Thankfully Ralph Fiennes didn’t have any dirty stories from the set of Coriolanus, but he did remember eavesdropping on his parents coming home from a screening of Blow-Up having a passionate conversation about Redgrave’s character Jane and her taking her bra off.
More on the tribute here.