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Streep wins coveted role

Meryl Streep has won the lead in The House of the Spirits, the most coveted female part since Catwoman.

Streep will play the role of Clara opposite Jeremy Irons in director Bille August's adaptation of Isabel Allende's 1985 best-seller.

First choice for the part was Annette Bening, who declined because of the responsibilities of new motherhood, then Michelle Pfeiffer declined for unexplained reasons.

August also met with Glenn Close, who ended up in the part of Ferula, Irons' older spinster sister.

For the part of Clara, August also considered Laura Dern, Dana Delany, Geena Davis, Elizabeth Perkins, Robin Wright, Isabelle Adjani, Andie MacDowell, Juliet Stevenson, Winona Ryder, Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts.

Madeleine Stowe, Nicole Kidman and Kim Basinger also were screen-tested.

The movie begins shooting Jan. 18 and is penciled in for Christmas 1993 release.