CULTURE

Meryl Streep Once Recommended a Priest to Exorcise Steven Spielberg’s Home

The pair worked together on A.I. Artificial Intelligence and The Post


Christopher Polk/Getty Images

If your house is overrun with unwanted spirits, it turns out that the best person to call is not, in fact, the Ghostbusters, but Meryl Streep.

On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter published a round-table interview with Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, and their collaborators to discuss their new film, The Post, in which Streep plays former Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. While the actress spoke at length about her preparation for the role and the First Amendment, buried amid all of the shop talk was one curious tidbit: In 2000, while providing one day’s worth of voice work for Spielberg’s film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Streep and Spielberg got to talking about Spielberg’s home.

“Most of the time, we talked about how his property was haunted, and did I know anybody who did exorcisms?” Streep told THR. “And of course, I did. I got him a priest.” The Oscar winner does not elaborate on this story, and it is not mentioned again in the duration of the interview. This leaves quite a few unanswered questions: Exactly how does Streep know people who do exorcisms, and why is it “of course” that she does? Was the priest Streep hired successful in ridding Spielberg’s home of ectoplasmic pests? And which of Spielberg’s then-residences is the haunted property in question?

The answer appears to be his Mediterranean-style mansion in the Pacific Palisades. Back in the ’80s, Spielberg purchased the originally Spanish-style residence, intending it to be his family’s primary residence. The place, according to a 1989 story in AD, had an “exotic past.” Its previous owners included Douglas Fairbanks Jr., David O. Selznick, Cary Grant and Barbara Hutton, and Bobby Vinton. “The history of the house attracted me instinctively,” Spielberg told AD back then. “It was important for me to know that David Selznick had lived there during the time he produced Gone With the Wind.” Spielberg added that the house had “good bones.”

Now, of course, the home is stunning, thanks to architect Harry Newman and designer Frank Pennino. But back then, the director had to completely overhaul the place, since it had been built at the turn of the century and was “relatively dilapidated.” With such a long and colorful past, it’s no wonder that Spielberg’s house came with a pesky ghost or two. The question now, was it David Selznick or Cary Grant?

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