The actress trades the Pentagon Papers for the Panama Papers in another cinematic ode to journalism.
Fresh off her Oscar-nominated performance in The Post, Meryl Streep has already cinched her next star turn in a compelling, politically tinged drama. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Streep will star in Steven Soderbergh‘s upcoming film The Laundromat.
The Laundromat will chronicle the Panama Papers investigation that took place after the highly-classified documents were leaked to the public in 2015. The Panama Papers are nearly 12 million documents that detail private financial information about offshore business entities. Within the documents, reporters discovered Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca allowed wealthy individuals to illegally funnel money around the world.
Based on Jake Bernstein’s book “Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite,” the script is penned by The Bourne Ultimatum writer and frequent Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns. Soderbergh and Burns previously worked together on Contagion, The Informant!, and Side Effects. Michael Sugar, who received a Best Picture Oscar for Spotlight — another film about journalists unearthing scandal — is among the film’s producers.
The Amazon description of Berstein’s book offers some insight into the film’s focus:
A two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist takes us inside the world revealed by the Panama Papers, a landscape of illicit money, political corruption, and fraud on a global scale. In “Secrecy World,” the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Jake Bernstein explores this shadow economy and how it evolved, drawing on millions of leaked documents from … a trove now known as the Panama Papers―as well as other journalistic and government investigations. “Secrecy World” offers a disturbing and sobering view of how the world really works and raises critical questions about financial and legal institutions we may once have trusted.
Although her role is being kept secret, THR describes Streep’s character as “the emotional throughline of the movie.” Following her portrayal of The Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham in The Post, Streep seems to be continuing her streak of being the emotional center of films that deal with classified documents.
Antonio Banderas and newly minted Oscar-winner Gary Oldman are also in talks to star. Banderas, often relegated to the role of token Spanish-speaker, will likely take on a role as a Panamanian working within Mossack Fonseca. Oldman could play anyone from a journalist to a law-breaking billionaire.
The Laundromat follows in the footsteps of Spotlight and The Post as a film that venerates journalism and journalists’ role in combatting corruption — a theme that feels increasingly pertinent. Streep will likely play a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revisiting the role of a journalist tasked with the burden of public interest.
The ICIJ is a global network of over 200 investigative journalists around the world who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories. Just as The Boston Globe unmasked systemic violence within local Catholic churches (seen in Spotlight), and The Washington Post exposed the government’s deceptive involvement in Vietnam (seen in The Post), the ICIJ brought the Panama Papers to light. The author of “Secrecy World” is a member of the ICIJ himself, so the organization will likely play a major role in The Laundromat.
Streep continues to prove herself as one of the most versatile actresses in Hollywood. From a nun to a rock star, Margaret Thatcher to Anna Wintour, Meryl Streep really can do it all — and do it all convincingly. Her turns in The Post and now The Laundromat reinforce her dramatic chops and follow similar thematic paths, but she’s still flexing her other muscles. Her upcoming roles in Big Little Lies, Mary Poppins Returns, and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will graciously keep us in touch with the many sides of Meryl. Lucky for us, she’s showing no signs of slowing down.