Meryl Streep Says That ‘Out of Africa’ Shampoo Moment With Robert Redford Is a ‘Sex Scene in a Way’: We’ve Seen ‘People F—ing, but We Don’t See That Loving Touch’

Reflecting on her illustrious career at Cannes Film Festival, Oscar winner Meryl Streep opened up about one of her most iconic on-screen moments — the shampoo scene from “Out of Africa.” 

The 1986 Sydney Pollack film starred Streep and Robert Redford as a baroness and a big game hunter who fall in love in a lush desert romance. In what is considered one of the most intimate moments in movie history, Redford gives Streep a steamy salon scrub in a South African river. The actress went so far as to call the moment a sex scene. 

“It’s a sex scene in a way, because it’s so intimate. We’ve seen so many scenes of people fucking, but we don’t see that loving touch, that care,” Streep said to big applause during a conversation at Cannes’ Théâtre Debussy. 

In an interesting wrinkle, Redford needed some coaching on precisely how to give Streep a shampoo to remember. 

“The animal that kills the most men in Africa is the hippopotamus, especially when you come between them and the river,” Streep recalled being warned by production. Nervous for their safety, Redford shampooed Streep as if he was kneading bread on her temples. 

“It was not good,” she said. Streep’s longtime hair and makeup artists Roy Hellund took Redford aside and gave him a few pointers. His game improved significantly. “I was in love by take 5,” Streep said of her co-star.

On Tuesday, Streep was awarded an honorary Palme d’Or at the festival’s opening ceremony. She was greeted by a thunderous two-minute standing ovation and grew visibly emotional before delivering a heartfelt speech reflecting on her decades-long career.

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Streep said that the last time she was at Cannes, “I was already a mother of three, I was about to turn 40 and I thought that my career was over.”

“That was not an unrealistic expectation for actresses at that time,” she continued. “And the only reason that I’m here tonight and that it continued is because of the very gifted artists with whom I’ve worked.”

The iconic and prolific actor has received a record-setting 21 Oscar nominations over her nearly five-decade-long career and has won three, for her performances in “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1980), “Sophie’s Choice” (1983) and “The Iron Lady” (2012).

Streep joins several other industry heavyweights who will be appearing at this year’s edition, including “Star Wars” stalwart George Lucas, who will receive an honorary Palme d’Or at the closing ceremony; Francis Ford Coppola, who is presenting his new film “Megalopolis” in competition; and Paul Schrader, whose “Oh, Canada” is also competing for this year’s Palme d’Or.

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