Keegan-Michael Key on what it was like to kiss Meryl Streep in 'The Prom'

Keegan-Michael Key in The Prom on Netflix (Photo by Melissa Gordon/Netflix)

If you had told Keegan-Michael Key in theatre school that one day he would be kissing Meryl Streep on screen, he would have thought you were crazy. The comedian of Key & Peele fame plays school principal Mr. Hawkins, who falls for Streep’s Dee Dee Allen in Netflix’s The Prom.

“When you're a kid in theater school and you're 22 years old, if your future self came back and said, ‘I just want you to know that in 2020, you're going to be Meryl Streep's love interest in a movie,’ you'd just be like, ‘Get out of here, lying demon. You're not real,’” Key said in a virtual press conference for the film, calling the experience “one of the great privileges of my career.”

Mr. Hawkins is a fan of Dee Dee, a fading Broadway star who comes to his small Indiana town to help fight for a young lesbian who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom. Luckily, the pair had a lot of time to get ready for the kiss, as director Ryan Murphy filmed many of their other scenes earlier in the production. But Key as still a little nervous. 

“I was nervous with anticipation,” he said. “Ryan's a lovely and kind person because he doesn't make you do it first. So Meryl and I had an opportunity to work with...Honey, we did most of our scenes together before that didn't we?”

“Yeah, we did,” Streep chimed in. 

“We had a lot of time to get to know each other and spend time with each other and be comfortable with each other. But it was nervous in that it was exhilarating,” he said, adding: “I was waiting for it the entire shoot. And I think I had an entire tin of Altoids."

Key also said that The Prom afforded him an opportunity to play a new type of character. "Kudos to Ryan because he gave me an opportunity to play a character I’ve never played before, which is the grounded, sensible mature character, the person who’s trying to keep everything as balanced and as civil as possible," Key said. "He’s the one person who’s trying to keep this maelstrom from doing any more collateral damage than it’s already done."

The Prom premieres on Netflix on December 11 and is in select movie theatres now. 

Photo credit: Keegan-Michael Key in The Prom on Netflix (Photo by Melissa Gordon/Netflix)