BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) - Actress Meryl Streep turned a Golden Globe acceptance speech into a scathing attack on U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, saying she had been heartbroken by his imitation of a disabled reporter during his campaign.
“There was one performance this year that stunned me,” Streep, 67, said as she was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award Sunday night.
“It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter.”
The three-time Oscar winner was referring to a 2015 incident at a South Carolina rally when Trump flailed his arms and slurred in his speech in an apparent mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a physical disability. Trump later denied that he was imitating the reporter.
“It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life,” Streep said.
“This instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform by someone powerful it filters down into everybody’s life. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence.”
In a brief telephone interview with the New York Times, Trump said he was “not surprised” that he had come under attack from “liberal movie people.”
He said he had not seen Streep’s remarks or the Globes ceremony, but called the actress “a Hillary lover,” in reference to her high-profile support for his rival Hillary Clinton.
Actors and studio executives in heavily Democratic Hollywood were mostly behind Clinton.
While Streep did not name Trump directly, she used almost the entire speech to criticize his behavior and policies, while calling for Hollywood to stand strong against any attacks and to support a free press through organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The audience sat in stunned silence for much of it.
Streep earned a cheer from the crowd when she said that, “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners.”
“If you kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not art,” she said, as the audience cheered on.
Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, made a tough stance on immigration a cornerstone of his campaign.
Streep ended her speech with a nod to her long-time friend, “Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher, who died last month after a heart attack.
“As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, ‘Take your broken heart and make it into art’,” Streep said, her voice cracking with emotion.
The Committee to Protect Journalists tweeted to the actress, “Thank you Meryl Streep for your generosity & support of our mission to protect journalists and press freedom around the world.”
Streep has been nominated for a Golden Globe 30 times and won eight times. She joins Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Woody Allen and Jodie Foster as recipients of the Cecil B. DeMille award.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Leela de Kretser and Mary Milliken