Meryl Streep (born Mary Louise Streep; June 22, 1949) is an American actress of theatre, film and television. She is widely regarded as the greatest living actress, as well as one of the greatest actresses of all time.
Streep made her professional stage debut in The Playboy of Seville (1971), before her screen debut in the television movie The Deadliest Season (1977). In that same year, she made her film debut in Julia (1977). Both critical and commercial success came quickly with roles in The Deer Hunter (1978) and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), the first of which brought her an Academy Award nomination, and the second, her first win, for Best Supporting Actress. She later won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her roles in Sophie's Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011). With 18 Academy Award nominations in 35 years, Streep holds the record as being the most nominated actor (male or female) in film history.
Streep has also received 28 Golden Globe nominations, winning eight, more nominations and more competitive (non-honorary) wins than any other actress or actor. Her work has also earned her two Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, five New York Film Critics Circle Awards, two BAFTA awards, two Australian Film Institute awards, five Grammy Award nominations, and a Tony Award nomination, among several others. She was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2004 and the Kennedy Center Honor in 2011 for her contribution to American culture through performing arts, the youngest actor in each award's history. President Barack Obama awarded her the 2010 National Medal of Arts. In 2003, the government of France made her a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Streep was born in Summit, New Jersey. Her mother, Mary Wolf (née Wilkinson; 1915-2001), was a commercial artist and an art editor, and her father, Harry William Streep, Jr. (1910-2003), was a pharmaceutical executive. She has two brothers, Dana David and Harry William III.
Streep's father was of German and Swiss-German ancestry. Her patrilineal line traces back to Loffenau, Germany, from where her second great-grandfather, Gottfried Streeb (sic), emigrated to the United States, and where one of her ancestors served as mayor. Another line of her father's family was from Giswil in the canton of Obwalden, a small town in Switzerland. Her mother had English, German, and Irish ancestry. Some of Streep's maternal ancestors lived in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, and were descended from 17th century immigrants from England. Her eighth great-grandfather, Lawrence Wilkinson, was one of the first Europeans to settle Rhode Island. Streep is also a distant relative of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and records show that her family is among the first purchasers of land in the state. Streep's maternal great-grandparents, Manus McFadden (b. 1831) and Grace Strain (b. 1832), were natives of the Hook Head district of Dunfanaghy, County Donegal, Ireland.
She was raised a Presbyterian, and grew up in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where she attended Bernards High School. She had many school friends who were Catholic, and regularly attended Mass because she loved its rituals. She received her B.A., in Drama, from Vassar College in 1971 (where she briefly received instruction from actress Jean Arthur), but also enrolled as a visiting student at Dartmouth College a quarter before it became coeducational. She subsequently earned an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama. While at Yale, she played a variety of roles onstage, from Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream to an eighty-year-old woman in a wheelchair in a comedy written by then-unknown playwrights Christopher Durang and Albert Innaurato.
Streep performed in several theater productions in New York and New Jersey after graduating from Yale School of Drama, including the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew with Raúl Juliá, and Measure for Measure opposite Sam Waterston and John Cazale. At this time she entered a relationship with Cazale, with whom she lived until his death three years later. She starred on Broadway in the Brecht/Weill musical Happy End, and won an Obie for her performance in the all-sung off-Broadway production of Alice at the Palace.
Streep began auditioning for film roles, and later recalled an unsuccessful audition for Dino De Laurentiis for the leading female role in King Kong. De Laurentiis commented to his son in Italian, "She's ugly. Why did you bring me this thing?" and was shocked when Streep replied to the insult in fluent Italian. In New York City, she appeared in the 1976 Broadway double bill of Tennessee Williams' 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and Arthur Miller's A Memory of Two Mondays. For the former, she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Her other early Broadway credits include Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill musical Happy End in which she originally appeared off-Broadway at the Chelsea Theater Center. She received Drama Desk Award nominations for both productions.
Streep's first feature film role was Julia (1977), in which she played a small but pivotal role during a flashback scene. Streep was living in New York City with Cazale, who had been diagnosed with bone cancer. He was cast in The Deer Hunter (1978), and Streep was delighted to secure a small role because it allowed her to remain with Cazale for the duration of filming. She was not specifically interested in the part, commenting, "They needed a girl between the two guys and I was it."
She played a leading role in the television miniseries Holocaust (1978) as a German woman married to a Jewish artist in Nazi era Germany. She later explained that she had considered the material to be "unrelentingly noble", and had taken the role only because she had needed money. Streep travelled to Germany and Austria for filming while Cazale remained in New York. Upon her return, Streep found that Cazale's illness had progressed, and she nursed him until his death on March 12, 1978. She spoke of her grief and her hope that work would provide a diversion; she accepted a role in The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979) with Alan Alda, later commenting that she played it on "automatic pilot", and performed the role of Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew for Shakespeare in the Park. With an estimated audience of 109 million, Holocaust brought a degree of public recognition to Streep, who was described in August 1978 as "on the verge of national visibility". She won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Miniseries or a Movie for her performance.
The Deer Hunter (1978) was released a month later, and Streep was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
Streep played a supporting role in Manhattan (1979) for Woody Allen, later stating that she had not seen a complete script and was given only the six pages of her own scenes, and that she had not been permitted to improvise a word of her dialogue. Asked to comment on the script for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), in a meeting with the producer Stan Jaffee, director Robert Benton and star Dustin Hoffman, Streep insisted that the female character was not representative of many real women who faced marriage breakdown and child custody battles, and was written as "too evil". Jaffee, Benton and Hoffman agreed with Streep, and the script was revised. In preparing for the part, Streep spoke to her own mother about her life as a mother and housewife with a career, and frequented the Upper East Side neighborhood in which the film was set. Benton allowed Streep to write her dialogue in two of her key scenes, despite some objection from Hoffman. Jaffee and Hoffman later spoke of Streep's tirelessness, with Hoffman commenting, "She's extraordinarily hardworking, to the extent that she's obsessive. I think that she thinks about nothing else but what she's doing."
Streep drew critical acclaim for her performance in each of her three films released in 1979: the romantic comedy Manhattan, the political drama The Seduction of Joe Tynan and the family drama, Kramer vs. Kramer. She was awarded the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress and National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for her collective work in the three films. Among the awards won for Kramer vs. Kramer were the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
After supporting roles in two of the 1970s' most successful films, the consecutive winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture, The Deer Hunter and Kramer vs. Kramer, and praise for her versatility in several supporting roles, Streep progressed to leading roles. Her first was The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981). A story within a story drama, the film paired Streep with Jeremy Irons as contemporary actors, telling their modern story as well as the Victorian era drama they were performing. A New York Magazine article commented that, while many female stars of the past had cultivated a singular identity in their films, Streep was a "chameleon", willing to play any type of role. Streep was awarded a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work.
Her next film, the psychological thriller, Still of the Night (1982) reunited her with Robert Benton, the director of Kramer vs. Kramer, and co-starred Roy Scheider and Jessica Tandy. Vincent Canby, writing for The New York Times, noted that the film was an homage to the works of Alfred Hitchcock, but that one of its main weaknesses was a lack of chemistry between Streep and Scheider, concluding that Streep "is stunning, but she's not on screen anywhere near long enough".
As the Polish holocaust survivor in Sophie's Choice (1982), Streep's emotional dramatic performance and her apparent mastery of a Polish accent drew praise.William Styron wrote the novel with Ursula Andress in mind for the part of Sophie, but Streep was very determined to get the role. After she obtained a pirated copy of the script, she went to Alan J. Pakula and threw herself on the ground begging him to give her the part.." Streep filmed the "choice" scene in one take and refused to do it again, as she found shooting the scene extremely painful and emotionally exhausting. Among several notable acting awards, Streep won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. Roger Ebert said of her performance, "Streep plays the Brooklyn scenes with an enchanting Polish-American accent (she has the first accent I've ever wanted to hug), and she plays the flashbacks in subtitled German and Polish. There is hardly an emotion that Streep doesn't touch in this movie, and yet we're never aware of her straining. This is one of the most astonishing and yet one of the most unaffected and natural performances I can imagine."
She followed this success with a biographical film, Silkwood (1983), in which she played her first real-life character, the union activist Karen Silkwood. She discussed her preparation for the role in an interview with Roger Ebert and said that she had met with people close to Silkwood to learn more about her, and in doing so realized that each person saw a different aspect of Silkwood. Streep concentrated on the events of Silkwood's life and concluded, "I didn't try to turn myself into Karen. I just tried to look at what she did. I put together every piece of information I could find about her... What I finally did was look at the events in her life, and try to understand her from the inside."
Her next films were a romantic drama, Falling in Love (1984) opposite Robert De Niro, and a British drama, Plenty (1985). Roger Ebert said of Streep's performance in Plenty that she conveyed "great subtlety; it is hard to play an unbalanced, neurotic, self-destructive woman, and do it with such gentleness and charm... Streep creates a whole character around a woman who could have simply been a catalogue of symptoms."
Out of Africa (1985) starred Streep as the Danish writer Karen Blixen and co-starred Robert Redford. A significant critical success, the film received a 63% "fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Streep co-starred with Jack Nicholson in her next two films, the dramas Heartburn (1986) and Ironweed (1987), in which she sang onscreen for the first time since the television movie, Secret Service, in 1977. In A Cry in the Dark, aka Evil Angels (1988), she played the biographical role of Lindy Chamberlain, an Australian woman who had been convicted of the murder of her infant daughter despite Chamberlain claiming the baby had been taken by a dingo (a claim that was later vindicated). Filmed in Australia, Streep won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, a Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress and was nominated for several other awards for her portrayal of Chamberlain.
In She-Devil (1989), Streep played her first comedic film role, opposite Roseanne Barr. Richard Corliss, writing for Time, commented that Streep was the "one reason" to see the film and observed that it marked a departure from the type of role for which she had been known, saying, "Surprise! Inside the Greer Garson roles Streep usually plays, a vixenish Carole Lombard is screaming to be cut loose."
In the 1990s, Streep continued to play a great variety of roles. From 1984 to 1990, she won six People's Choice Awards for Favorite Motion Picture Actress, and in 1990 was named World Favorite. Biographer Karen Hollinger described this period as a downturn in the popularity of Streep's films, attributing this partly to a critical perception that her comedies had been an attempt to convey a lighter image following several serious but commercially unsuccessful dramas, and more significantly to the lack of options available to an actress in her forties. Streep commented that she had limited her options by her preference to work in Los Angeles, close to her family, a situation that she had anticipated in a 1981 interview when she commented, "By the time an actress hits her mid-forties, no one's interested in her anymore. And if you want to fit a couple of babies into that schedule as well, you've got to pick your parts with great care."
Streep played a drug-addicted movie actress in Postcards from the Edge, a screen adaptation of Carrie Fisher's novel of the same name, with Dennis Quaid and Shirley MacLaine. Streep and Goldie Hawn had established a friendship and were interested in making a film together. After considering various projects, they decided upon Thelma and Louise, until Streep's pregnancy coincided with the filming schedule, and the producers decided to proceed with Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. They subsequently filmed the farcical black comedy, Death Becomes Her, with Bruce Willis as their co-star. Time's Richard Corliss wrote approvingly of Streep's "wicked-witch routine" but dismissed the film as "She-Devil with a make-over".
In 1995, Streep played opposite Clint Eastwood in the love story The Bridges of Madison County (1995).
Based on a best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, it relates the story of Robert Kincaid (Eastwood), a photographer working for National Geographic, who has a love affair with a middle-aged Italian farm wife in Iowa named Francesca (Streep). Streep and Eastwood got along famously during production and such was their on-screen chemistry that a number of people believed that the two were having an affair off-camera, although this was denied by both. The film was a hit at the box office and grossed $70 million in the United States. The film, unlike the novel, surprised film critics and was warmly received. Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that Clint had managed to create "a moving, elegiac love story at the heart of Mr. Waller's self-congratulatory overkill", while Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal described The Bridges of Madison County as "one of the most pleasurable films in recent memory".
In 1996, Streep starred as Lee in Marvin's Room, an adaptation of the play by Scott McPherson. Diane Keaton played her estranged sister Bessie, a woman battling leukemia, although Streep had initially been considered for the role. The film also starred a young Leonardo DiCaprio as Streep's rebellious son. Roger Ebert stated that "Streep and Keaton, in their different styles, find ways to make Lee and Bessie into much more than the expression of their problems." Although critically acclaimed, the film was not released on a wide scale. Streep, however, earned another Golden Globe nomination for the film.
In 1999, Streep portrayed Roberta Guaspari, a real-life New Yorker who found passion and enlightenment teaching violin to inner-city kids in East Harlem, in the music drama Music of the Heart. A departure from director Wes Craven's previous work on films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream series, Streep replaced singer Madonna who left the project before filming began due to creative differences with Craven. Required to perform on the violin, Streep went through two months of intense training, four to six hours a day.
Streep entered the 2000s with Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a science fiction film about a childlike android, played by Haley Joel Osment, uniquely programmed with the ability to love, voicing the Blue Fairy. The same year, Streep co-hosted the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert concert with Liam Neeson which was held in Oslo, Norway on December 11, 2001 in honour of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the United Nations and Kofi Annan.
In 2002, Streep returned to the stage for the first time in more than twenty years, playing Arkadina in The Public Theater's revival of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Kevin Kline, Natalie Portman, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The same year, she began work on Spike Jonze's comedy-drama Adaptation (2002), in which she portrayed real-life journalist Susan Orlean. Lauded by critics and viewers alike, the film won Streep her fourth Golden Globe in the Best Supporting Actress category. Also in 2002, Streep appeared alongside Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore in Stephen Daldry's The Hours, based on the 1999 novel by Michael Cunningham. Focusing on three women of different generations whose lives are interconnected by the novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, the film was generally well received and won all three leading actresses a Silver Bear for Best Actress the following year.
The following year, Streep had a cameo as herself in the Farrelly brothers comedy Stuck on You (2003) and reunited with Mike Nichols to star with Al Pacino and Emma Thompson in the HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's six-hour play Angels in America, the story of two couples whose relationships dissolve amidst the backdrop of Reagan Era politics. Streep, who was cast in four roles in the mini-series, received her second Emmy Award and fifth Golden Globe for her performance. In 2004, Streep was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award by the Board of Directors of the American Film Institute. She appeared in Jonathan Demme's moderately successful remake of The Manchurian Candidate, co-starring Denzel Washington, playing the role of a woman who is both a U.S. senator and the manipulative, ruthless mother of a vice-presidential candidate. The same year, she played the supporting role of Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events alongside Jim Carrey, based on the first three novels in Snicket's book series. The black comedy received generally favorable reviews from critics, and won the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Inspired by her love of Giverny in France and Claude Monet, Streep did the narration for the film Monet's Palate, with Alice Waters, Steve Wynn, Daniel Boulud and Helen Rappel Bordman.
Streep was next cast in the 2005 comedy Prime, directed by Ben Younger. In the film, she played Lisa Metzger, the Jewish psychoanalyst of a divorced and lonesome business-woman, played by Uma Thurman, who enters a relationship with Metzger's 23-year-old son (Bryan Greenberg). A modest mainstream success, it eventually grossed US$67.9 million internationally. In August and September 2006, she starred onstage at The Public Theater's production of Mother Courage and Her Children at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. The Public Theater production was a new translation by playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America), with songs in the Weill/Brecht style written by composer Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change); veteran director George C. Wolfe was at the helm. Streep starred alongside Kevin Kline and Austin Pendleton in this three-and-a-half-hour play in which she sang and appeared in almost every scene.
Also in 2006, Streep, along with Lily Tomlin, portrayed the last two members of what was once a popular family country music act in Robert Altman's final film A Prairie Home Companion. A comedic ensemble piece featuring Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline and Woody Harrelson, the film revolves around the behind-the-scenes activities at the long-running public radio show of the same name. The film grossed over US$26 million, the majority of which came from domestic markets. Commercially, Streep fared better with a role in The Devil Wears Prada (2006), a loose screen adaptation of Lauren Weisberger's 2003 novel of the same name. Streep portrayed the powerful and demanding Miranda Priestly, fashion magazine editor (and boss of a recent college graduate played by Anne Hathaway), and her performance drew rave reviews from critics and earned her many award nominations, including her record-setting 14th Oscar bid, as well as another Golden Globe. Upon its commercial release, the film became Streep's biggest commercial success yet, grossing more than US$326.5 million worldwide.
In 2007, Streep was cast in four films. She portrayed a wealthy university patron in Chen Shi-zheng's much-delayed feature drama Dark Matter (2007), a film about a Chinese science graduate student who becomes violent after dealing with academic politics at a U.S. university. Inspired by the events of the 1991 University of Iowa shooting, and initially scheduled for a 2007 release, producers and investors decided to shelve Dark Matter out of respect for the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007. The drama received negative to mixed reviews upon its limited 2008 release. Streep played a U.S. government official who investigates an Egyptian foreign national suspected of terrorism in the political thriller Rendition (2007), directed by Gavin Hood. Keen to get involved in a thriller film, Streep welcomed the opportunity to star in a film genre for which she was not usually offered scripts and immediately signed on to the project. Upon its release, Rendition was less commercially successful, and received mixed reviews.
Also in 2007, Streep had a short role alongside Vanessa Redgrave, Glenn Close and her eldest daughter Mamie Gummer in Lajos Koltai's drama film Evening, based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Susan Minot. Switching between the present and the past, it tells the story of a bedridden woman, who remembers her tumultuous life in the mid-1950s. The film was released to lukewarm reactions by critics, who called it "beautifully filmed, but decidedly dull and a colossal waste of a talented cast." Streep's last film of 2007 was Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs, a film about the connection between a platoon of United States soldiers in Afghanistan, a U.S. senator, a reporter, and a California college professor.
In 2008, Streep found major commercial success when she starred in Phyllida Lloyd's Mamma Mia!, a film adaptation of the musical of the same name, based on the songs of Swedish pop group ABBA. Co-starring Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård and Colin Firth, Streep played a single mother and a former girl-group singer, whose daughter (Seyfried), a bride-to-be who never met her father, invites three likely paternal candidates to her wedding on an idyllic Greek island. An instant box office success, Mamma Mia! became Streep's highest-grossing film to date, with box office receipts of US$602.6 million, also ranking it first among the highest-grossing musical films for now. Nominated for another Golden Globe, Streep's performance was generally well received by critics, with Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe commenting "the average actor in American movies has finally become a movie star."
Streep's other film of 2008 was Doubt featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis. A drama revolving around the stern principal nun (Streep) of a Bronx Catholic school in 1964 who brings charges of pedophilia against a popular priest (Hoffman), the film became a moderate box office success, but was hailed by many critics as one of the best of 2008. The film received five Academy Awards nominations, for its four lead actors and for Shanley's script.
In 2009, Streep played chef Julia Child in Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia, co-starring Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci. The first major motion picture based on a blog, it contrasts the life of Child in the early years of her culinary career with the life of young New Yorker Julie Powell (Adams), who aspires to cook all 524 recipes in Child's cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days, a challenge she described on her popular blog, The Julie/Julia Project, that would make her a published author. The same year, Streep also starred in Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy It's Complicated, with Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. She also received nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for both of these films and won the award for the former. Streep later received her 16th Oscar nomination for Julie & Julia. She also lent her voice to Mrs. Felicity Fox in the stop-motion film Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Streep's first film of the 2010s was Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady (2011), a British biographical film about Margaret Thatcher, which takes a look at the Prime Minister during the Falklands War and her years in retirement. Streep, who sat through a session at the House of Commons to observe British MPs in action in preparation for her role, called her cast "a daunting and exciting challenge." While the film had a mixed reception, Streep's performance got rave reviews, earning her Best Actress awards at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs as well as her third win at the 84th Academy Awards. Former advisers, friends and family of Thatcher criticized Streep's portrayal of her as inaccurate and biased. The following year, after Thatcher's death, Streep issued a formal statement criticizing Thatcher's "hard-nosed fiscal measures" and "hands-off approach to financial regulation," while praising her "personal strength and grit."
In 2012, Streep reunited with Prada director David Frankel on the set of the comedy-drama film Hope Springs, co-starring Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell. In it, Streep and Jones play a middle-aged couple, who attend a week of intensive marriage counseling to try to bring back the intimacy missing in their relationship. Reviews for the film were mostly positive, with critics praising the "mesmerizing performances from Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones" which offer "filmgoers some grown-up laughs -- and a thoughtful look at mature relationships". She earned her 27th Golden Globe nomination for her role, breaking her own record.
At the National Board of Review Awards in 2013, Streep labeled Walt Disney (d. 1966) as "anti-semitic" and a "gender bigot." Former actors, employees and animators who knew Disney during his lifetime rebuffed the comments as misinformed and selective.The Walt Disney Family Museum issued a statement rebuking Streep's allegations indirectly, citing, among others, Disney's contributions to Jewish charities and his published letters stating that women "have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men." However, Disney's grandniece, Abigail Disney, wholeheartedly agreed with Streep's statements. Abigail Disney stated that he was an "anti-Semite," "misogynist," and "racist" who was also an exemplary filmmaker whose work "made billions of people happy." She admitted to having "mixed feelings" about her great-uncle but that her statements were about being "as honest as possible about those feelings, or else you are going to lead yourself into many a blind alley in life."
In 2013, Streep starred along with supporting actress Julia Roberts in the film August: Osage County, which was filmed on-site in Oklahoma. The film is based on Tracy Letts's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name and was directed by John Wells. Streep received Golden Globe, SAG, and Academy Award nominations for her role in this film. In September 2012, it was reported that Streep along with Hilary Swank will join the production of The Homesman, Tommy Lee Jones' sophomore directorial effort. In January 2013, numerous reports surfaced that Streep was cast as The Witch in a film adaptation of the Broadway musical Into the Woods. Also in 2013, Streep joined the motion picture adaptation of The Giver with Jeff Bridges and The Good House along with Robert De Niro. Streep agreed to play Emmeline Pankhurst, a supporting role in the film Suffragette, which started shooting during late February 2014.
Accents and dialects:
Streep is well known for her ability to imitate a wide range of accents, from Danish in Out of Africa (1985) to English Received pronunciation in Plenty (also 1985), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) and The Iron Lady (2011); from Italian in The Bridges of Madison County (1995) to a Minnesota accent in A Prairie Home Companion (2006) and from Irish-American in Ironweed to a heavy Bronx accent in Doubt. After A Cry in the Dark (1988), critics were impressed with Streep's ability to master an Australian accent with shades of New Zealand English. For her role in the film Sophie's Choice (1982), she spoke both English and German with a Polish accent, as well as Polish itself. In The Iron Lady, she reproduced the vocal style of Margaret Thatcher from the time before she became Britain's Prime Minister, and after she had taken elocution lessons to change her pitch, pronunciation and delivery.
Despite the accolades accorded to her, Streep has emphasized that adopting accents is an element she simply considers an obvious part of creating a character. When asked whether accents helped her get into character, she responded, "I'm always baffled by this question... How could I play that part and talk like me?" When questioned in Belfast as to how she reproduces different accents, Streep replied, "I listen" - in a dead-on Ulster accent.
After Streep appeared in Mamma Mia!, her rendition of the song "Mamma Mia" rose to popularity in the Portuguese music charts, where it peaked at #8 in October 2008.
At the 35th People's Choice Awards, her version of "Mamma Mia" won an award for "Favorite Song From A Soundtrack". In 2008, Streep was nominated for a Grammy Award (her fifth nomination) for her work on the Mamma Mia! soundtrack.
Streep lived with actor John Cazale for three years until his death in March 1978. Streep married sculptor Don Gummer on September 30, 1978. They have four children: Henry Wolfe Gummer (b. 1979), Mamie Gummer (b. 1983), Grace Gummer (b. 1986), and Louisa Jacobson Gummer (b. 1991). Both Mamie and Grace are actresses, while Henry is a musician.
When asked if religion plays a part in her life, in an interview in 2009, Streep replied, "I follow no doctrine. I don't belong to a church or a temple or a synagogue or an ashram." In an interview in December 2008 she also alluded to her inability to follow a religion when she said "So I've always been really, deeply interested, because I think I can understand the solace that's available in the whole construct of religion. But I really don't believe in the power of prayer, or things would have been avoided that have happened, that are awful. So it's a horrible position as an intelligent, emotional, yearning human being to sit outside of the available comfort there. But I just can't go there." When asked from where she draws consolation in the face of aging and death, she responded, "Consolation? I'm not sure I have it. I have a belief, I guess, in the power of the aggregate human attempt - the best of ourselves. In love and hope and optimism - you know, the magic things that seem inexplicable. Why we are the way we are. I do have a sense of trying to make things better. Where does that come from?"
Streep is the spokesperson for the National Women's History Museum, to which she has donated a significant amount of money (including her fee for The Iron Lady) and hosted numerous events.
On October 4, 2012, Streep donated $1 million to The Public Theater in honor of both its late founder, Joseph Papp, and her friend, the author Nora Ephron. She also supports Gucci's "Chime For Change" campaign that aims to spread female empowerment.
In 2014, Streep established two scholarships for students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell - the Meryl Streep Endowed Scholarship for English majors, and the Janet Hertzberg Endowed Scholarship (named for Streep's former classmate at Vassar College) for math majors.
Awards and nominations: