Considered by many movie reviewers to be the greatest living film actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 17 times, and has won it three times. Born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, Meryl's early performing ambitions leaned toward the opera. She became interested in acting while a student at Vassar and upon graduation she enrolled in the Yale School of Drama. She gave an outstanding performance in her first film role, Julia (1977), and the next year she was nominated for her first Oscar for her role in The Deer Hunter (1978). She went on to win the Academy Award for her performances in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Sophie's Choice (1982), in which she gave a heart-wrenching portrayal of an inmate mother in a Nazi death camp.
A perfectionist in her craft and meticulous and painstaking in her preparation for her roles, Meryl turned out a string of highly acclaimed performances over the next 10 years in great films like Silkwood (1983); Out of Africa (1985); Ironweed (1987); and A Cry in the Dark (1988). Her career declined slightly in the early 1990s as a result of her inability to find suitable parts, but she shot back to the top in 1995 with her performance as Clint Eastwood's married lover in The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and as the prodigal daughter in Marvin's Room (1996). In 1998 she made her first venture into the area of producing, and was the executive producer for the moving ...First Do No Harm (1997) (TV). A realist when she talks about her future years in film, she remarked that "...no matter what happens, my work will stand..."
|Don Gummer||(30 September 1978 - present) 4 children|
Known for being a perfectionist when preparing for roles
Known for her ability to master almost any accent
She frequently plays real-life characters: Julia Child, Ethel Rosenberg, Karen Silkwood, Karen Blixen, Roberta Guasppari, Lindy Chamberlain, Susan Orlean and Margaret Thatcher.
In September 1999, named Best Modern Actress in an Entertainment Weekly online poll, substantially beating out runner-up Michelle Pfeiffer.
Learned to play the violin, by practicing 6 hours a day for 8 weeks, for her role in Music of the Heart (1999).
Has a fear of helicopters.
Listed as one of 12 "Promising New Actors of 1977" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 29.
In October 1997, ranked #24 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
Educated at Yale University. Studied Drama.
Graduated from Vassar College in 1971.
Was romantically involved with actor John Cazale for a total of 7 years, culminating with his death at age 42 in 1978 from bone cancer. She is very reluctant to discuss the relationship with anyone.
Graduated from Bernards High School.
Before making it big, she was a waitress at The Hotel Somerset in Somerville, New Jersey, USA.
Was a cheerleader and homecoming queen in high school.
She left her just-claimed Oscar for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) on the back of a toilet during the 1979 festivities.
In 2001, her son, Henry W. Gummer ("Hank") was a student at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
Sister-in-law of Maeve Kinkead.
In 2000, named an Officer of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Born at 8:05 a.m. EDT.
Tennessee Williams wanted her for a film version of "A Streetcar Named Desire" in the 1980s. When Streep proved unavailable, the project was refashioned for television and the role of Blanche given to Ann-Margret.
Has a deviated septum, which she refuses to have fixed.
The children's TV series "Sesame Street" (1969) has featured a character named "Meryl Sheep" in her honor.
Her character Karen Silkwood from her 1983 film Silkwood (1983) was ranked #47 on the American Film Institute Heroes list of the 100 years of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villians.
Presented Paul McCartney with the 1990 Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. Attended The Beatles concert at Shea Stadium in 1965 with an "I love Paul" sign, which she mentioned when presenting the award to McCartney.
Spent a year as a transfer student at Dartmouth College where she participated in theater.
Originally applied to Law School but slept in on the morning of her interview and took it as a sign she was destined for other things.
Back at the Drama school, she and Sigourney Weaver appeared in a play staged in a swimming pool together. The play was called 'The Frogs.'.
May 27, 2004 was proclaimed "Meryl Streep Day" by Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. [May 2004]
She was voted the 37th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
As a young actor, she performed at the Yale Repertory Theater with Christopher Lloyd.
According to Katharine Hepburn's official biographer A. Scott Berg, Meryl Streep was her least favorite modern actress on screen: "Click, click, click," she said, referring to the wheels turning inside Streep's head.
Has only been turned down for four roles: Michelle Straton in American Gigolo (1980), Patsy Cline in Sweet Dreams (1985), Miss Kenton in The Remains of the Day (1993), and Elizabeth I in Elizabeth (1998).
She often works with Academy award-winning director Mike Nichols.
Tony Nominee in 1976 as Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) for Tennessee Williams' "27 Wagons Full of Cotton.".
Premiere Magazine ranked her as #46 on a list of the Greatest Movie Stars of All Time in their Stars in Our Constellation feature (2005).
Took serious singing lessons. At age 12, she studied to become an opera singer.
Acting career began on the stage.
Is the second of 4 consecutive winners of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar to have the initials "M.S.". The others are: Maggie Smith - California Suite (1978), Mary Steenburgen - Melvin and Howard (1980), and Maureen Stapleton - Reds (1981).
Received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Middlebury College during her nephew's graduation in 2004.
She attended Harding Township Middle School, in Harding, New Jersey for 1 or 2 years
Sold her New York City townhouse for $9.1 million in February 2006. She was forced to slash the asking price for the eight-bedroom Manhattan property from $12 million to secure a sale. Streep bought the house for $2.2 million in 1995, according to the New York Post.
Early in her career, Streep received a letter from Bette Davis, whom most critics and cinema historians ranks as the greatest American movie actress ever. Davis told Streep that she felt that she was her successor as the premier American actress. Davis, a double winner who was nominated 10 times for an Academy Award, all of them Best Actress nods, set the record for most acting nominations with her tenth in 1963 for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), a record later surpassed by Katharine Hepburn with her 11th nomination (and 3rd win) for The Lion in Winter (1968). Hepburn extended her record with her 12th nomination (and fourth win) for On Golden Pond (1981).
Her performance as "Sophie Zawistowska" in Sophie's Choice (1982) is ranked #3 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Her performance as "Karen Silkwood" in Silkwood (1983) is ranked #71 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Her husband, Don Gummer, is a sculptor.
Her father was a drug company exec; her mother, an artist-turned-housewife who kept an art studio behind the house. Her father loved to play the piano and her mother to sing. Meryl was given singing lessons at a young age. Her mother died in 2001 and her father in 2004.
Friend of Jill Clayburgh. First met in their roles as mothers.
Robert De Niro said she is his favorite actress to work with.
Was nominated for Best Actress in 1987 along with Cher. When Cher was announced, just before the cameras cut away from the other four actresses, Streep could be seen springing to her feet in delight and applauding for Cher. During her acceptance speech, Cher thanked Streep personally, as they had worked together on Cher's first film, Silkwood (1983). As the camera briefly cut away to Streep sitting in the audience, she blew Cher a kiss.
Considered for the role of Evita Peron in Evita (1996).
Donated her wardrobe from The Devil Wears Prada (2006) to a charity auction.
Uses music, most often Classical, to get into character.
Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Nominated for a 2007 Drama Desk Award for her performance in "Mother Courage and Her Children" (Outstanding Actress in a Play).
Daughter of Mary Streep and Harry Streep (a pharmaceutical executive).
Her accumulation of 17 Oscar nominations (3 wins) was accomplished over a period of only 33 years. Bette Davis scored 10 nominations (2 wins) over 28 years (all leading roles). Katharine Hepburn garnered 12 nominations (4 wins) after a relatively lengthy 48 years (all leading roles).
Occasionally mistaken for friend Glenn Close, Streep was pregnant with her fourth child while shopping in a Los Angeles baby store where the staff lavished her with huge amounts of baby paraphernalia. Just as she was about to leave they whispered, "We loved you in Fatal Attraction (1987)".
Elected to the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2007 for her services to arts and entertainment (inaugural election). Official induction ceremonies held in May 2008.
In 2007, she ranked #6 on Entertainment Weekly's 'The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood'.
Nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for "The One and Only Shrek" (Best Spoken Word Album For Children).
Has said she is a great fan of actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
With the announcement of the 66th Annual Golden Globe Award nominations and receiving two nominations, the actress surpassed Jack Lemmon's count of 22 nominations and is now, besides holding the record for most Oscar nominations, the actor with the most Golden Globe nominations of all time with a total of 25 nominations.
She was a close friend of late actress Natasha Richardson.
Signs cheques with her real name - Mary Louise Gummer.
She was ranked #87 on Ellen DeGeneres' most sexy movie actors list. (2009).
She was awarded honorary Princeton degree in June 2009.
She gained as much as 15 pounds while filming the Julie & Julia (2009) movie.
Her fans call themselves "Streepers".
In the stage show of Fame, though other actors are mentioned in song lyrics, she is the only actress to have her name in a song title. The song is called "Think of Meryl Streep" and takes place after Carmen kisses Nick when he asks her how she relaxes, and Serena (who wants Nick for herself) sees them.
Studied acting with Michael Howard in New York City.
Lives in New York City and Salisbury, Connecticut.
She presented leadership award to ex-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt on March 2010.
Landed the breakthrough role of Linda in The Deer Hunter (1978) after Robert De Niro had seen her playing Dunyasha in Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" at Manhattan's Lincoln Center (1977). Streep had been playing opposite Irene Worth, Raul Julia and Mary Beth Hurt.
On her 60th birthday, her husband brought her a toaster and one of her daughters brought her a rocking chair. Despite having to work until late on the day, her children cooked her a birthday meal when she returned.
As of 2012 she is still the most Oscar-nominated actress with 17 nominations.
She was awarded the 2010 National Medal of the Arts for her services to drama.
Was considered for the part of Ellen Ripley in "Alien".
Is one of only four thespians to be nominated for acting honors by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences over five decades - 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s. Along with Laurence Olivier (1930s-1970s), Paul Newman (1950s, 1960s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s) and Katherine Hepburn (1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1980s).
Referenced in "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Your Horoscope for Today".
Claimed to have had a photographic memory when she was younger, which allowed her to memorize her lines after one reading.
Spokesperson for the Center for Reproductive Rights' Draw the Line campaign. The Center for Reproductive Rights is a global legal organization dedicated to advancing women's reproductive health, self-determination and dignity as basic human rights.
Gave birth to her 4th child at age 41, a daughter Louisa Jacobson Gummer on June 12, 1991. Child's father is her husband, Don Gummer.
As of 2013, she has the most Academy award nominations.
["Entertainment Tonight" (1981)] I had it (smoking), it stinks.
[in 1978] I'm looking forward to bigger parts in the future, but I'm not doing soft-core scripts where the character emerges in half-light, half-dressed.
I don't want to spit in the eye of good fortune, but it was weird. I felt like I'd butted in line in front of Lucille Ball, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn. Hello? How did this happen? I was only the sixth woman to receive it, but they found 26 men to give it to. I thought that was embarrassing. [on her Lifetime Achievement Award from the AFI]
I thought it was really fun, you've got to understand, but I didn't think it was a serious way to conduct your life. You know, I had a sense of mission. I was a true child of the '60s. [on her view of acting back in college]
I love doing comedy, but people just don't give me enough of a chance. It's one of the reasons I enjoy The Manchurian Candidate (2004) so much. It's because I actually get a chance to be funny.
Let's face it, we were all once 3-year-olds who stood in the middle of the living room and everybody thought we were so adorable. Only some of us grow up and get paid for it.
[accepting an Emmy for "Angels in America" (2003)] You know, there are some days when I myself think I'm overrated, but not today.
Someone once said that sometimes studio heads don't want to cast films with the image of their first wife in the role. It's just rather unpleasant for them. So they like the idea of the new one.
I loved being someone so certain. Because certainty is just so attractive in people. To me, it's a completely bogus position - for me. Because, you know, I'm listening to every side. But it's so nice not to have to listen to all the different sides. To be so clear and on your track and sure. It's a fabulous thing. Unfortunately, it leads to fanaticism. [on her role in The Manchurian Candidate (2004)]
I think I was wired for family. You know how they say people are wired for religion, or wired for this or that? I always knew I would like to, if I could find the right person, have a family. I can't imagine living single.
I get nervous calling myself an artist. I feel I'm more like an interpreter or a violinist, you know.
[on winning the 1983 Best Actress Oscar for Sophie's Choice (1982)] Oh boy, no matter how much you try to imagine what this is like, it's just so incredibly thrilling right down your toes.
But ... in my own experience of male and female directors, people have a much, much harder time taking a direct command from a woman. It's somehow very difficult for people.
I mean, come on; when you have people writing these things, that you're the greatest thing that ever ate scenery, you're dead. You're fucking dead. How can you even presume to begin a new character? It's a killer.
It's a lesson I learned in drama school: the teacher asks, how do you be the queen? And everybody says, 'Oh it's about posture and authority.' And they said, no, it's about how the air in the room shifts when you walk in. And that's everyone else's work.
I really, really depend on the other actors for the confirmation of who I think I am," she says. "And so it's important to me to work with good people that are not worried about how they look. You know. Real actors. They're your blood.
[part of Emmy acceptance speech for "Angels in America" (2003)] Glenn Close is my friend so I know she'll forgive me, Helen Mirren is an acting god, and no one has put a better performance on film than Judy Davis in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001) (TV). The only one in the group is Emma Thompson, who will hold a grudge for the rest of her life. But who cares?
[accepting the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical 2007] "I think I've worked with everyone in the room! I have!"
It's hard to negotiate the present landscape with a brain and a female body. (On her struggles as an actress earlier in her career)
My God, I was settling in for a long winter's nap. I've been nominated, like 789 times, but it hasn't been since the Mesozoic Era that I've actually won. (On winning a Golden Globe for Adaptation. (2002)).
It would be nice to have a woman President. I think half the Senate should be women, half of Parliament, half the ruling mullahs. But that will never happen, darling!
[on Dustin Hoffman] He's energized and the greatest combination of the generous and the selfish that ever lived. He wants to be the greatest actor who ever was.
I try to lead as ordinary a life as I can. You can't get spoiled if you do your own ironing.
I don't know what I'd do without my husband. I'd be dead, emotionally at least, if I hadn't met him. He's the greatest. - On her husband.
Listening is everything. Listening is the whole deal. That's what I think. And I mean that in terms of before you work, after you work, in between work, with your children, with your husband, with your friends, with your mother, with your father. It's everything. And it's where you learn everything.
There's no road map on how to raise a family: it's always an enormous negotiation. But I have a holistic need to work and to have huge ties of love in my life. I can't imagine eschewing one for the other. - on her marriage.
[on life as a young actress] When I was 20 I busked to afford accommodation. One night I hadn't earned enough, I actually slept in the open in Green Park [in London]. The view was of the Ritz Hotel and I vowed I'd stay there one day. And I have.
I hate the [Oscar] campaigning thing. It's unseemly. You should be honored for something. It shouldn't be for whose campaign was better.
My daughters had helped me to stop worrying about my appearance over the years. I wasted so many years thinking I wasn't pretty enough and why didn't I have Jessica Lange's body or someone else's legs? What a waste of time. (February 2009 about her appearance.)
I've been nominated for an Oscar 15 times and won twice, but it still feels like it's happening to someone else. I wish I could feel it more. (2009)
Tash was the warm sun in the center of a large constellation of family, friends, all of those lucky enough to know her - she is irreplaceable in our lives; she gave us so much, so generously - her legacy is the love that connects us all. (on Natasha Richardson's tragic death.)
If you've been married for a long time you love without looking.
My greatest culinary triumph was when I was falling in love with my husband. We were on the coast of Maine in a cabin and I made an apple pie...just whipped it up, without a recipe or anything..just the perfect pastry. I've never been able to do it again - and he asks for it often!
Turning 60 was important to everyone else. It was a big number, to me it was, 'Well yeah, that comes after 59', and I don't even want to look it in the eye.
The prospect of exploring the swathe cut through history by this remarkable woman is a daunting and exciting challenge. I am trying to approach the role with as much zeal, fervor and attention to detail as the real Lady Thatcher possesses - I can only hope my stamina will begin to approach her own. (On portraying Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady (2011))
[1994, on if she's bothered when one of her films don't do well at the box-office] I'm horribly disappointed when people don't see what I consider some of my best work. Yeah, I'm very sad. But I know that I have a video life. Most of my fans are home with their children waiting for my films to come out on video. But I'm disappointed because certain things should be seen on the big screen. I was very proud of A Cry in the Dark (1988), but it wasn't distributed widely enough for people to have seen it on the big screen.
[1994, on career choices] What affects your career choices are the three interesting scripts you get in a year, two of which you're wrong for, one you think you might want to do if you're real lucky. You can't possibly plot what's going to be available, what's going to be written, who's going to think of it, and if it will come to you or not.
 One of the most important keys to acting is curiosity. I am curious to the point of being nosy. What that means is you want to devour lives. You're eager to put on their shoes and wear their clothes and have them become a part of you. All people contain mystery, and when you act, you want to plumb that mystery until everything is known to you.
[on The Iron Lady (2011)] It was one of those rare, rare films where I was grateful to be an actor and grateful for the privilege of being able to look at a life deeply with empathy.
It took a lot out of me, but it was a privilege to play her (Margaret Thatcher), it really was. I still don't agree with a lot of her policies. But I feel she believed in them and that they came from an honest conviction, and that she wasn't a cosmetic politician just changing make-up to suit the times.
[on Margaret Thatcher] We on the Left didn't like her policies but secretly we were thrilled that a woman had made it, and we thought, "Wow, if it can happen there in England, it could happen here." But we're still waiting in America.
She's still an incredibly divisive figure, but you miss her clarity today. It was all very clear and up front, and I loved that eagerness to mix it up and to make it about ideas. Today it's all about feelings. You know, "How do I come off?" and, "Does this seem OK?" You want people who are willing to find a solution. I admire the fact that she was a "love-me-or-hate-me" kind of leader who said: "This is what I stand for." It's a hard thing to do and no one's doing that now. (On Margaret Thatcher)
[on what appealed to her about playing Margaret Thatcher] Women and power, and diminishment of power, and loss of power. And reconciliation with your life where you come to a point where you've lived most of it, and it's behind you. I have always liked and been intrigued by older people and the idea that behind them lives every human trauma, drama, glory, jokes, love.
I consider all the roles I play a privilege but this one was special because there are such vehement opinions about her. People seemed to look at her as an icon or a monster and I just wanted to locate the human being inside those caricatures that we've seen over so many years. And to investigate myself what it must have been like for her. (On Margaret Thatcher)
[responding to those who have criticized the emphasis placed on Margaret Thatcher's frail and confused old age] Some people have said it's shameful to portray this part of a life. But the corollary of that is that, if you think that debility, delicacy, dementia are shameful, if you think that the ebbing of a life is something that should be shut away, if you think that people need to be defended from these images then - yes - then you'll think it's a shameful thing.
I was never engaged to John Cazale. We lived together for three years until he died of bone cancer.
[on avoiding cosmetic surgery] I really understand the chagrin that accompanies aging, especially for a woman, but I think people look funny when they freeze their faces. In Los Angeles there's a lot of that. I pick up on the part that doesn't move on a face. I'm immediately drawn to it and that is the opposite of what you're intending. You pull focus on the area that's been worked on.
I gotta thank everybody in England that let me come and trample over their history.
|The Deer Hunter (1978)||$35,000|
|Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)||$85,000|
|The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)||$350,000|
|Falling in Love (1984)||$2,000,000|
|Out of Africa (1985)||$3,000,000|
|Postcards from the Edge (1990)||$4,000,000|
|Death Becomes Her (1992)||$4,000,000 + % of the profit|
|The River Wild (1994)||$5,000,000|
|The Bridges of Madison County (1995)||$4,000,000 - $5,000,000 + percentage of the gross|
|The Devil Wears Prada (2006)||$5,000,000|
|Julie & Julia (2009)||$5,000,000 + first-dollar gross %|
|It's Complicated (2009)||$7,000,000 - $8,000,000|
|The Iron Lady (2011)||% of gross (original $1,000,000 donated to NWHM)|
(November 2011) London, UK: To begin promoting the film, Iron Lady
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