“The sources of what you do are ultimately kind of mysterious, and, we are so lucky that you have that genuine imagination, desire, heart and soul. You put it all out there. We need you to run for president,” Streep said as she sat down with Ullman for a discussion around her HBO sketch series “Tracey Ullman’s Show” at the Tribeca Film Festival Friday.
Ullman does have her finger on the pulse of politics more than most. In “Tracey Ullman’s Show,” she has portrayed everyone from German chancellor Angela Merkel to Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon to British prime minister Theresa May.
“I’m not in some liberal indignation bubble,” Ullman said of her politics. “I don’t want to those sorts of late-night shows that just hate Trump the most and the best. … It’s like, enough with that. I’ve had as much as I can take.”
The third season of her show, which bows Sept. 28, will still dive heavily into politics, as the nearly 1000 attendees who gathered in a line around the block for a first glimpse at the premiere learned. Ullman said when she is doing topical sketches, she always reaches “for empathy and the humanity and the sadness.”
“I found that the most interesting women I could impersonate were politicians,” Ullman said. “Could you imagine being her, the only girl in the room with [Vladimir] Putin and [Silvio] Berlusconi and George W. Bush?”
The theme of strong women and motivation rang throughout the discussion, as Ullman looked back on her early influences and the impact her own mother had on her career.
“I looked up to America. They were lovely character actors in England that I loved, but here in America you had Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Lily Tomlin — all of these amazing women,” she said.
The need to make people smile came early, she continued: “This is what I have been doing all of my life. When I was young I used to dance in my mother’s bedroom and when I [grew] up I just did it again. It was a sad time then. My dad had died when I was six. I wanted to just cheer my mum up.”
And of course there was much love felt between the friends during the evening, too.
“I love her because she has no vanity,” Ullman said about Streep.
In fact, the queen of impersonations even reflected on the one person who could mimic her properly as being “only Meryl.”