Everyone knows Meryl Streep can win an Oscar for doing just about anything. But now she’s really testing that theory by playing one of the worst performers of all time, Florence Foster Jenkins. Jenkins was “a New York heiress and socialite who coveted a career as a great opera singer, but who lacked any real ability.” Because of her personal fortune, though, she was able to fund a singing career, and was made famous by assholes who lived for irony. These prototype hipsters would flock to her shows just to laugh at her. And flock they did, in huge numbers.
She was having a great time and the audience was having a great time, so they kept telling her, “You need to make your Carnegie Hall debut.” So on October 25, 1944, she did, and it was sold out in just two hours. They came from everywhere. She walked onstage in these ridiculous costumes that she’d made herself. She’d throw roses out into the audience, her assistants would go out and collect them, and she’d throw them out into the audience again. The audience would not let her go home. They cheered her and clapped, and one month and one day later she died at the age of 76.
Florence will be directed Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen, Philomena), and will also star Hugh Grant as Florence’s partner and manager, the amazingly named St. Clair Bayfield.
Bayfield was an aristocratic English actor who was determined to protect Florence from the truth that while the voice she heard in her head was beautiful, to everyone else it was hilariously awful.
So how awful was she? Listen for yourself. (If you can bear it.)