Meryl Streep: The star. The performer. The woman
Epique Women is a celebration of being a woman. This series features women whose beauty transcend time. Women whose actions redefine womanhood. And, women who are who they want to be.
For anyone who know anything about movies, Meryl Streep is a familiar face. Many critics agree that she is the greatest living actress. And, there is a section of people who classify Hollywood as Before Meryl Streep and After Meryl Streep.
All this fanfare and critical acclaim is not hard to believe if you look at her illustrious career. She has been nominated for Academy Awards for a record-breaking 19 times. Thrice, she has taken the Oscars home. With a tally of 29, she also has the most nominations for Golden Globe Awards. 14 BAFTA nominations and 5 nominations at Grammy among many others prove every claim about her acting prowess right.
Her performance in ‘Sophie’s Choice’ was voted the third greatest movie performance of all time by Premiere magazine. Roger Ebert said of her delivery, “Streep plays the Brooklyn scenes with an enchanting Polish-American accent, 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.”
In a career spanning four decades, she has played various roles with dazzling dexterity. She is said to be a perfectionist. She lives her character by perfecting even the little nuances. From body language to accent, she masters everything. For her role in ‘Music of the heart,’ she learnt violin 6 hours a day, every day for four weeks.
In the preparation for her first non-fictional character, the nuclear whistleblower and labor union activist Karen Silkwood who died in a suspicious car accident, Streep met with people close to Karen. She said, “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.” Jack Kroll of Newsweek termed Streep’s performance as “brilliant”, while Silkwood’s boyfriend Drew Stephens praised Streep to portray Karen as a human being and not a myth.
In a male dominated industry where the actresses run out of roles with the progression of time, she stands as an unfading symbol of hope. Even today, she is stunningly attractive and continues to dazzle audiences across the globe. Shirley MacLaine said that “She is still here” – on her terms, doing what she loves and what she does better than anyone else.
One of the most amazing feats of Streep has been her ability to dodge stereotypes. She has stayed away from one single characteristics or personality. While all other actors can be classified as sexy, girlish, fragile, British and so on, Meryl remains unpredictable. Her appearance even on the talk shows fail to create a mould for her. She just appears to be a thinking woman who is living every moment to the fullest.
In the forming years of her career, she showed how strong and beautiful her heart is. Her romantic partner and fellow actor John Cazale was diagnosed with Lung Cancer during the filming of ‘The Deer Hunter.’ She remained by his side, giving him reasons to continue his battle. Cazale’s close friend Al Pacino said: “I’ve hardly ever seen a person so devoted to someone who is falling away like John was. To see her in that act of love for this man was overwhelming.”
Associated with various charities, Meryl Streep is doing a lot of good work where it is needed the most. But, that’s not the most beautiful thing about her. It is her undying resolute to be her. It is her spirit to be who she really is. She never let any criticism, any attempt to be objectified or typecasting come in her way to be who she wanted to be. We have loved and we have hated Meryl Streep, the performer. But, Meryl Streep, the woman stands class apart doing her thing without caring what the world thinks of her.
Meryl Streep is an embodiment of beauty eternal.