Meryl Streep Recalls 'Intimate' “Out of Africa” Shampoo Scene with Robert Redford: 'Didn't Want It to End'

The actress looked back at filming the 1985 movie with Robert Redford

<p>Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty</p> Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty

Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in 'Out of Africa'

Meryl Streep is remembering a dangerously intimate moment from one of her iconic movies.

During an onstage conversation at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival on May 15, the actress, 74, recalled details from a “gorgeous” hair-washing scene in her 1985 drama Out of Africa opposite Robert Redford, 87.

Her fellow Oscar winner, Streep told journalist Didier Allouch, wasn't an immediate pro at shampooing her hair beside a river on location in Kenya.

"So Roy [Helend] comes up, my hair and makeup man, and he said, ‘Bob, go like this.’ And this is the best part of my day when he does that. And so Redford took the lesson and he just really got into it and he was great. By take five I [felt] so beloved.”

Related: Meryl Streep and Greta Gerwig Have Emotional Mini Little Women Reunion at 2024 Cannes Film Festival

The scene in question features Redford’s big-game hunter offering to wash the knotted hair of Streep’s Danish baroness. “It's a sex scene, in a way, because it's so intimate,” said Streep. “We've seen so many scenes of people f---ing, but we don't see that love, touch, that care. Gorgeous. I didn't want it to end that day.”

That is, “in spite of the hippos,” she added.

<p>Sebastien Nogier - Pool/Getty</p> Meryl Streep at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15

Sebastien Nogier - Pool/Getty

Meryl Streep at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15

“The animal that kills the most people in Africa is the hippopotamus,” explained Streep. “If you get between a hippopotamus and the water, they'll charge you and they have these jaws. So we were shooting in the river and the hippopotamuses were right above it. I don't know if they show that in the movie, I can't remember. But I was aware of it.”

In addition to contending with wild hippos, Out of Africa imported several lions from California, she continued. “They were supposedly fine, tame — they were not.”

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Then there were the bugs. Night shoots, said Streep, “had the big lights which attracted everything: bats, insects and everything.” During a take for one long shot, she recalled, she felt something “go in the back of my collar… I didn't know if it was going to bite me.”

After bravely ignoring the bug and completing the take, the actress told hair and makeup expert J. Roy Helland there was something in her blouse. “He smacked me and then we brought it out, lifted it up, and it was this bug as big as my hand. And it didn't bite me! So I shouldn't have killed it.”

<p>Hemdale/Getty</p> Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in 'Out of Africa'


Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in 'Out of Africa'

Related: Barbra Streisand Reveals Robert Redford Initially Turned Down The Way We Were: 'I Was Heartbroken'

Streep’s heralded return to the Cannes Film Festival follows her first and only other appearance, in 1989 pegged to the film Evil Angels (also known as A Cry in the Dark). On May 14 at the opening night ceremony, the Devil Wears Prada star accepted an honorary Palme d'or — the event’s highest honor — from presenter Juliette Binoche.

The French actress cried as she spoke about Streep's influence, saying, “You have carved out an indelible place for yourself in the history of cinema… You changed the way we look at women in the cinema world and also helping us to look at ourselves differently."

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