updated 04/08/2013 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 04/08/2013 AT 12:30 PM ET
Meryl Streep received universal acclaim and an Oscar – her third – for her portrayal of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the 2011 biopic The Iron Lady. PEOPLE’s critic raved at the time that Streep’s turn was more “channeling” than impersonation.
On Monday, after the news broke that Thatcher had died at 87 following a stroke, the actress was quick to point out that, in reality, Thatcher was a complex woman she barely knew – and a woman with a complicated legacy.
“Margaret Thatcher was a pioneer, willingly or unwillingly, for the role of women in politics,” Streep said in a statement. “It is hard to imagine a part of our current history that has not been affected by measures she put forward in the U.K. at the end of the 20th century. Her hard-nosed fiscal measures took a toll on the poor, and her hands-off approach to financial regulation led to great wealth for others. There is an argument that her steadfast, almost emotional loyalty to the pound sterling has helped the U.K. weather the storms of European monetary uncertainty.”