By Kim Peiffer
Updated Jul 12, 2016 @ 1:00 pm
Meryl Streep Hugh Grant
Credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Last night at a screening at the Crosby Hotel in New York City, voracious laughs—and the boisterous voice of Meryl Streep— filled the theater as the cast came together to share the new film, Florence Foster Jenkins.

The comedy, based on the true story of legendary New York heiress and socialite Florence Foster Jenkins (portrayed by Streep on the big screen), follows the star as she obsessively pursues her dream of becoming a great singer, despite having one of the worst voices that her audiences could ever imagine.

Hugh Grant, who plays the role of devoted husband and manager St. Clair Bayfield, tries to protect his wife from the truth of her awful voice, resulting in a lot of comedic moments—and a lot of really bad singing.

“Meryl is not only incredibly talented but she’s also very dedicated, so it’s quite a sacred place when you’re acting with her,” Grant told InStyle exclusively during a private supper following the screening.

Meanwhile, Streep was thrilled to be able to sing, off-key or not. “I love singing and I’m not allowed to sing at home because everyone says ‘shut up,’” Streep joked of the benefit of playing this particular role. “So I find characters who sing, and in various things I’ve been able to do it.”

Streep’s hilarious melodic misfortunes not only led to many comedic moments during the film but also left a mark off-screen as well. “It did slightly haunt me,” Grant laughed. In fact, he listened to her voice so often during shoots that he heard it in his sleep.

As for his character, Grant says he connected on a deeper level with the story behind the man. “I was interested in his desperation, really. I understood that he was really a man with nothing, clinging desperately to this life raft which was his wife and their curious little world, and I find that touching.”

Florence Foster Jenkins, which also stars Simon Helberg as accompanist Cosme McMoon, hits theaters Friday, Aug. 12.