"(Meryl) was singing this song in a chapel and it was so emotional. I was sat outside knowing I was about to meet her. And crying. And it was like: 'Hold it together, Lily!' It was too much!" James told PorterEdit.
The actor said, while prepping for the role, she tried to steer clear of Streep's aura and focused on the essence of her character.
"I tried not to focus on the Meryl Streep-ness of it all, but tried to focus on the Donna Sheridan-ness of it all.
"Having said that, I did go through all of Meryl's movies, especially stuff from when she was younger. I loved watching 'Postcards from the Edge' - there's a spunky kind of madness where she sings in that - and even 'Death Becomes Her'."
James added the multiple-time Oscar winner made her feel comfortable and allowed her have her "moment" in the film.
"She was just so cool. We had to do this dance together and she gave it all to me, she let me take my moment," she said.
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