On the verge of images: Meryl Streep

Hold your breath, because today we will be talking about the great and irresistible Meryl Streep!

On the verge of images: Meryl Streep

June 22 was the birthday of one of the most influential people in Hollywood. Nowadays, it's hard to imagine a time when she didn't become one of the greatest actresses of our time. This actress is a living legend and Simply speaking, Meryl Streep needs no introduction, but today we would like to dedicate our material to this person in the world of cinema. She manages to be modest in real life but completely melts into her character.  Her talent includes dramas, comedies, thrillers, and even musicals, and Meryl Streep never fails to top her list of achievements: three Oscars, eight Golden Globes, and a record number of nominations for various prestigious film awards. So with this piece, we not only want to go deeper into the biography and filmography of the iconic actress but also to pay tribute and love to her multifaceted talent.


Disclaimer: our blog has no academic purpose behind it, because we are viewers just like you. Filmustage does not aim to educate, but to gather a close-knit film community around us. We can be wrong about certain statements - and that is fine. We are open to discussion and criticism. The main thing is to love cinema and talk about it.


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Biography

At first glance, it might seem that the winner of most of the most illustrious awards; the star of the whole bunch of great films, and an audience favorite, had to be literally born on stage. However, Meryl Streep's story shatters this idealized stereotype of star kids and proves that anyone and everyone is capable of finding their way to their dreams.

Meryl Streep was born June 22, 1949, in the small town of Summit (New Jersey) with a population of not more than 5000 people.  At school, Meryl was very drawn to the study of foreign languages, especially French. That is due to her first appearance on stage: at age 12 Meryl Streep performed at the school's New Year's concert, after which some people advised her parents to seriously engage in a musical career. After that, she began to take additional vocal lessons and even dreamed of becoming an opera singer. But during high school Meryl Streep started to take part in school musicals, so gradually her attention shifted to acting.

Feeling a passion for transformation, Meryl Streep suddenly switched to cheerleading and gave seven years of her life to this craft. In this light, it's notable that Meryl Streep wasn't confident in herself and she makes no secret of it in her interviews. She didn't feel like she fit the frame of that "beauty" that society dictated and so she struggled with her complexes for a very long time.  

Meryl Streep continued her studies at Vassar College and in 1971 received a bachelor of arts degree in drama.  Subsequently, the actress has also received a Master of Fine Arts from Yale School of Drama, during which Streep played the roles of various characters in the local theater club: from the gallant Helen in Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" to the 80-year-old lady in the "Idiot Karamazov". In fact, by the end of the training, the young actress's portfolio had more than 40 performances! As a result, Meryl was recommended by teachers as one of the most worthy to participate in Broadway productions, so in 1975 the future star moved to New York.

The first steps into the world of cinema

After moving to New York, the theatrical career of Meryl Streep went rapidly uphill, and for several years she participated in the best productions in the country. And for her role in Tennessee Williams' play "27 Wagons Full of Cotton" the young actress was nominated for a Tony Award.  

During this period, Streep herself has long thought to try out the work in front of the camera because she was so inspired by Martin Scorseses' "Taxi Driver" (1976). Namely, Robert De Niro as a cab driver who became an idol of the acting performance. Watching De Niro, Meryl Streep said that she wanted to be just that kind of actress: different, daring, and bring something of her own to her characters.

After going through several more unsuccessful auditions Robert De Niro called her for his following picture, "The Deer Hunter" (1978). This step can be considered crucial in the film career of Meryl Streep. And not just because it appeared to be very successful, so Meryl herself was nominated for several prestigious awards, including the Oscars, but overall a great movie!

You have to give credit: for the inexperienced director and the young cast, “The Deer Hunter” was quite a risky and challenging project. Meryl Streep was to take part in a three-hour movie novel that took on the responsibility of speaking out on a previously taboo subject in Hollywood, which is the Vietnam War. Meryl Streep played the sensitive bride of the protagonist, who throughout the film is trying to cope with the realization that her lover is no longer the one who was before. Streep's character finds herself forgotten and mentally abandoned because Michael is deeply devoted only to his own thoughts. This is a tragic drama for which both Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep deserve recognition because it still remains one of the strongest couples on the screen.

Meryl Streep then went on to accept several projects such as "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979), where the actress had to test the limits of the permission: namely, to embody image of woman in modern society. Avery Corman's original novel, according to the author, wanted to counteract the "toxic rhetoric" he heard from feminists, who, in his opinion, lumped all men together as "a whole bunch of bad guys." The main character, Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman), is a thirty-year-old workaholic from New York City. He has a wife, Joanna (Meryl Streep), and a young son named Billy. Meryl Streep faced a challenge because  the problem is specifically Joanna Kramer, who is "suffocating" in this marriage: she is not interested in motherhood, her intimate life is not varied, etc. As a result, Joanna leaves her husband and son. And after a while, she suddenly returns to take her son away from Ted, who has already learned how to be a good single father. Then a battle unfolds that exposes the ugliness of the divorce process and the wounds people allow to be inflicted on each other.

The manuscript of the novel fell into the hands of young producer Richard Fischoff, who immediately thought that "Kramer vs. Kramer" could become a spiritual sequel to the iconic "The Graduate" (1967). Ted and Joanna Kramer were reminiscent of Benjamin and Elaine 10 years later when their impulsive union collapsed.

After reading the novel, Meryl Streep found that her character's reasons and motivation were too vague. She shared these thoughts at the casting with Dustin Hoffman, the producer, and director, and added that they should understand and portray the heroine's inner struggle because this struggle is experienced by many women every day. So, Meryl Streep made a condition: if they want to see her as Joanna, they need to rewrite her role.

The result is an ambiguous and interesting character who makes us feel both contempt and empathy - and it's entirely to Meryl Streep's credit that she transformed a one-note character from a novel into a complex and multifaceted personality.

"Kramer vs. Kramer" was extremely successful and earned five statuettes, including one for Meryl Streep. After her triumph, Streep received more and more offers. In general, the ‘80s can be called a golden period for the actress, where she showed her ability to the maximum. Her roles vary wildly in persona: she transitioned from a Polish Holocaust survivor to an Oklahoma labor activist, to a British fire in the French Resistance, to a Danish author, to an Australian mother and so on and most strikingly, her role in “Sophie's Choice” (1982) won Meryl Streep her second Oscar in three years!

The 2000s: "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006) & "Mamma Mia!" (2008)

The undeniable hit of the 2000s was David Frankel's "The Devil Wears Prada". Streep played the role of the powerful and demanding Miranda Priestly, the editor of one of the biggest fashion magazines in New York. Interestingly, Streep's character's prototype is the real-life editor of Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour.

To portray the oppressive editor, Meryl Streep spent a lot of time with Anna Wintour to understand how geniuses from the fashion world think. Frankly, we don't know where Streep gets her ability to fit precisely into the role. Her character being a sharpened personification of the fashion world has a ruthless look, a sharp mind and subtlety of approach. We can only wonder at the talent of this actress. Bravo!

At the time, "The Devil Wears Prada" was the highest-grossing film of Meryl Streep's career: over $300 million in the box office. However, its success was soon outshined by "Mamma Mia!" (2008) - a musical set to the music of the Swedish group ABBA.

Here Meryl Streep has once again shown herself not only as a dramatic actress but also as a master of comedy and singing. It is significant that after the movie Meryl Streep released her own song album for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award.

The 2010s

The new decade began with the biographical drama "The Iron Lady" (2011). Meryl Streep was once again transformed beyond recognition and relived the life of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher herself criticized her screen image, calling the authors' interpretation inaccurate and biased.

One way or another, this could not prevent Streep from again collecting the most important nominations of the year: the eighth Golden Globe, BAFTA Awards, and a third Oscar. "The Iron Lady" allowed Streep to show her talent brilliantly, she plays in different ages and voices, and solves acting problems of different levels of complexity. She plays with makeup much better than some of our famous actors. In a dark blue dress, Meryl is graceful and simple, yet expresses an inflexible, but liberal person.

Also phenomenal is Meryl Streep's performance in "Ricki and the Flash" (2015), in which Streep once again adopted a new image and played a rock musician. We already know about Meryl's vocal abilities, but for this movie, she also mastered the guitar. In the tragicomic mood of the film, Meryl Streep's unexpected and colorful performance diluted the already interesting filmography of the actress.

Streaming

In 2019, Meryl Streep accepted a role in a TV series for the first time in her career: it was the second season of HBO's "Big Little Lies". The first season so impressed the actress that she agreed to participate in the project without even reading the script - and she didn't fail!

Amidst such terrific actresses like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley, Streep delivered a delightful and crafty acting performance, for which she has already received her 33rd Golden Globe nomination.

Since then, Meryl Streep has worked extensively with streaming services such as Netflix and HBO, appearing in their projects on a regular basis. Of course, the Coronavirus pandemic has brought its own changes to the usual routine in Hollywood and now participation in projects of streaming giants is a necessity. However, Meryl Streep has such high credibility for a reason. That's exactly what happened with Adam McKay's recent hit satirical drama "Don't Look Up" (2021), which audiences loved but critics underestimated (we wrote a separate blog about "Don't Look Up", by the way - check it out at the link). Meryl Streep played the sarcastic President of the United States and again opened up to the audience from a new side: she played the comedic elements hilariously funny. It's hard to imagine anyone else for this role.

What will happen next?

There will only be more! At 73, Meryl Streep is at the peak of her career and her energy may be the envy of any young actor or actress. The fervor and dedication with which Streep fought for every role, for every character, cannot but be admired. We love Meryl Streep for her ability to change on the screen and bring something new to her character and herself with each film. We love Meryl Streep because she has always tried to show not the characters, but the living and real people on the screen. People who are illogical; people who are selfish; people who make mistakes and pay for them; people who sing and dance; people who laugh and cry. Meryl can play anyone and anything - a trait that can be traced back to her college days when the young actress has played roles from Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams. Her genius cannot be questioned.

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