Timothy Deer
Timothy Deer asked Michael Cunningham:

When you wrote "The Hours" with references to Meryl Streep, did you imagine that someday she would play Clarissa in a film adaptation?

Michael Cunningham Wouldn’t it be great if you could mention a movie star in a novel, and somehow cause that star to be in the film version?

The scene in The Hours to which you refer may or may not actually involve Meryl S. Clarissa, one of the novel’s central characters, happens upon a movie being shot as she walks through New York City (there are relatively few days when one doesn’t happen upon a movie being shot in New York City), and sees, briefly – extremely briefly – a woman who is clearly a star, looking out of her trailer. She quickly withdraws again. Clarissa wonders who it might have been: Meryl Streep? Vanessa Redgrave? (I can’t help noticing that my mention of Vanessa Redgrave did not cause her to appear in the movie version of The Hours).

That scene refers to a scene in V. Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, in which Mrs. Dalloway sees a royal limousine drive by, its rear windows covered with curtains, though briefly – very briefly – a hand wearing a grey glove appears, adjusts the curtain, and vanishes again.

Clarissa thinks about how, although there’s no way of knowing whose hand occupied that glove, the hand and the personage attached to the hand is a member of the royal family, and is therefore going into history; will be remembered long after most mortals are forgotten. It’s Mrs. Dalloway’s brush with the eternal, with that which the world simply refuses to forget.

It seems to me that movie stars are the closest we’ve got, in contemporary America, to royals. They too will be remembered, long after the rest of us are gone. Here’s to Meryl, then – and to Vanessa – in the 25th century.
Michael Cunningham
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