Cover Story

When Meryl Met Alec

Q&A with the stars of ''It's Complicated'' – Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin both meet their match in their new movie

Meryl Streep is getting used to being swept off her feet. Two summers ago, she frolicked on a Greek island with no fewer than three former lovers in Mamma Mia!. Last August, an adoring husband beamed at her in Julie & Julia. And in next month's It's Complicated, she plays a divorcée who has a fling with her hotheaded ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) just as she's contemplating dating her gentlemanly architect (Steve Martin). ''My leitmotif!'' the actress laughs. ''I mean, am I not the luckiest woman on the face of the planet?'' Sipping a cappuccino while Baldwin looks on with a wry smile, she adds, ''I think it's more to do with the fantasy of women my age and the we're-not-done-yet feeling.''

That's a familiar theme for It's Complicated's writer-director, Nancy Meyers, who explored similar terrain with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in 2003's Something's Gotta Give — raking in $125 million in the process. If early buzz is to be believed, It's Complicated could be headed in the same direction, which would give Streep, 60, her fourth box office smash in three years and Baldwin , 51, his first big-screen hit since he started winning Emmys for NBC's 30 Rock. On a recent afternoon in New York City, the ebullient costars chatted about working together for the first time. Baldwin supplied the deadpan humor and Streep, plenty of magnetic laughter.

EW: For Hollywood, this movie makes a pretty bold statement: that romance isn't just for twenty- or thirtysomethings. Was that appealing?
Meryl Streep Oh, yeah. That's what made me think it would be [a hit] — I'm knocking on wood, of course. But there's a gigantic audience out there that's neglected, and they have their little fantasies, hopes, aspirations, sadness, regrets, and everything else. There's just nothing for them.
Alec Baldwin I don't mean to be glib, but the title really is perfect. It is complicated. I had a pretty tough divorce myself, so sometimes I sit there and I go, ''Well, should I have worked it out? Maybe I should have tried harder.'' It's also what you teach your children about their love lives. That's a big thing for me, to teach my daughter: No risk, no reward. I want her to realize that it's a roll of the dice. Not everybody gets so lucky, where they have a family and a marriage forever and ever. [Gestures to Streep, who has been married to sculptor Don Gummer since 1978] But you have to try. People say, Do I believe in getting married? Oh yeah, of course I do. I'd love to get married again. [Pause] I have to find a really rich woman so I can stay home and read books all day.

EW: No! You can never leave 30 Rock — and hopefully Tina Fey wouldn't let you. Speaking of which, between that show and this movie, you've now worked with two of the most talented, successful —
Streep Two of the biggest ball-breakers.
Baldwin Right when I thought Tina was a ball-breaker, then I got to work with the ball-breaker. The Bette Davis of her generation! No, no, no. Well, it's funny, because we would joke about the kind of glacial pace of the movie. It took forever to make. Nancy's very slow and deliberate. And we do the TV show fast. I will literally jog to the set. We motor it along. Then we did this, which was the opposite.
Streep Shooting was five months.
Baldwin For a spoken-word comedy with no action and no effects, that's a long time. But we had great people. Working with her [points to Streep] was fun. She's fun! And who's more beautiful than she is? No one is more beautiful than she is.
Streep [Blushing] Oh, God.
Baldwin That's the truth. And you're just floating, in awe of how great she is. She hates when we talk about her that way. That's when she starts tapping on the table. [Streep is indeed nervously drumming her fingers.]
Streep We were laughing a lot. That's the main thing.

EW: You have such terrific chemistry together on screen. Did you know each other before the movie?
Baldwin I'd met her many times, through friends.
Streep [Surprised] Really?
Baldwin She doesn't remember. ''Alec who? I knew you when?'' Those are the two questions I get.
Streep: It helps when you're a huge fan. I've loved everything he's done. I think the first time I saw him was in Married to the Mob and I said, ''Oh my God! Who is this guy? He's so funny!'' And then I followed him, through Glengarry Glen Ross, everything. So we've wanted to work together for a long time — at least I have. And Steve [Martin] made it fun. He's a graceful man and [his character] is a true romantic. He's tender.

EW: The three of you share a hilarious scene involving marijuana.
Baldwin Oh, does that get a laugh?

EW: Huge! So Meryl, what's more fun, playing high on pot or high on orchid dust, as you did in Adaptation?
Streep You'd think that I was the biggest 'head! I am so not. Well, I have a dim memory of all that. [Laughs] I do find it amusing —I love playing drunk, I love all these things of loss of control.

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