Me, My­self & I: Meryl Streep

Os­car award win­ning ac­tress, Meryl Streep, 68, dis­cusses her child­hood am­bi­tions, be­ing a woman in Hol­ly­wood and her work/life bal­ance...

No. 1 Magazine - - SCOTLAND’S NO.1 -

It’s hard to remember a time on the big screen when Meryl Streep didn’t ex­ist, af­ter all, she has been nom­i­nated for al­most ev­ery award pos­si­ble and acted in some of Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest block­busters. Here, the star re­veals that she didn’t al­ways in­tend on be­com­ing an ac­tress and why she’s glad things are be­gin­ning to shift for women in Hol­ly­wood. She also re­veals whether she still gets ner­vous...

I didn’t al­ways want to be an ac­tress...

I thought I wanted to be a trans­la­tor at the UN and help peo­ple un­der­stand each other. Some young peo­ple come into act­ing be­cause they see it as glossy and height­ened and more sort of divine than their ex­is­tence; but what in­ter­ests me is get­ting deep into some­one else’s life, to un­der­stand what com­pelled them to move in one di­rec­tion or the other. That other stuff, I’ve never liked. My mother used to say, ‘Peo­ple would give their right arm to walk down that red car­pet. En­joy it!’ You just can’t change who you are.

How­ever, I feel very lucky to be re­garded as a sought-af­ter ac­tress...

I do be­lieve it‘s a lit­tle bit ex­ag­ger­ated, but I can­not com­plain. I have been very for­tu­nate when it comes to roles. But there are many good women out there who do fan­tas­tic work, I’m sure I’m not tak­ing work away from any­one else.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of Hol­ly­wood’s greats, but I don’t pick favourites...

I don’t have a favourite di­rec­tor just like I don’t have a favourite colour or I don’t have a favourite food. I like every­thing. There have been direc­tors that I did not en­joy work­ing with, but for the most part I re­alise that I have been unbelievably spoiled in my ca­reer be­cause I have worked with some of the great­est, great­est direc­tors ever.

I still think there’s more work to be done in terms of find­ing roles for women of ev­ery age in Hol­ly­wood...

That’s still a lit­tle bit of an is­sue. It is get­ting bet­ter, but it’s not yet good enough. Hol­ly­wood re­mains an in­dus­try that is mainly run by men, and the roles for women are of­ten lim­ited to play­ing the sexy girl­friend, the mother or the lover.

The in­flu­encers in our in­dus­try are over­whelm­ingly men...

The crit­ics, the direc­tors’ branch of the Academy. If they were over­whelm­ingly fe­male, there would be a hue and cry about it. Women have 17 per­cent of the in­flu­ence, more or less, in ev­ery part of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process in the in­dus­try and, in­evitably, that’s go­ing to de­cide what kind of films are made. But the ma­te­rial that comes to me is still in­ter­est­ing. I’m 68, so mostly I get things for peo­ple that age, and there are won­der­ful projects that would never have ex­isted even 10 years ago. Twenty years ago, I would have been play­ing witches and crones.

I do be­lieve, his­tor­i­cally, there has been a lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women both on screen and in books...

This act of em­pa­thy, that women go through from the time we’re lit­tle girls – we read all of lit­er­a­ture, all of his­tory, it’s re­ally about boys, most of it. But I can feel more like Peter Pan than

Tin­ker Bell, or like Wendy. I wanted to be Tom Sawyer, not Becky. We’re so used to that act of em­pathis­ing with the pro­tag­o­nist of a male-driven plot. I mean, that’s what we’ve done all our lives. You read his­tory, you read great lit­er­a­ture, Shake­speare, it’s all fel­las, you know?

I think peo­ple might as­sume I live a very typ­i­cal Hol­ly­wood life­style...

Most of the time I’m not even in Hol­ly­wood. For me, Hol­ly­wood is the big stage, and I get ex­cited when I get in­vited to an award show and they give me a big bas­ket with good­ies in it. Of­ten they have prod­ucts in them that I would never buy be­cause they’re so pricey, but I love get­ting them and try­ing them out... some of those lo­tions are to die for!

I’ve had a ca­reer in this in­dus­try for over 40 years but it hasn’t al­ways been a straight road to success...

Ev­ery­one makes mis­takes along the way; they are part of the jour­ney as long as you learn from them. I know that I am very for­tu­nate and that I live a good life. Over­all, I think I would go the same route again. Why not? You never know how thorny the path will be. It’s im­por­tant to keep mov­ing and to face new chal­lenges.

I’ve never been afraid of a role...

You can’t do your job and be afraid. You can be afraid in a press con­fer­ence, ner­vous, sweaty, but you can’t be afraid when you do your work be­cause it doesn’t work that way.

I do get ner­vous some­times...

I get ner­vous the more time I have to think about some­thing so I de­lib­er­ately don’t give my­self too much time be­tween jobs. I take a big break and then I start work­ing again usu­ally.

When my chil­dren were grow­ing up, I just learned how to bal­ance a very con­sum­ing ca­reer with moth­er­hood...

The first thing you need is a great hus­band. That I found many years ago and I am lucky in that way. Then you have to have a lot of stam­ina and very good or­gan­i­sa­tional skills. I feel like I run a busi­ness although I haven’t one. It’s plan­ning, plan­ning, and plan­ning.

I am proud that my daugh­ters wanted to go into act­ing...

I was also fright­ened for them, too. Be­cause when crit­i­cism comes your way as an ac­tor they are not crit­i­cis­ing your writ­ing or your paint­ing or your piece, they are crit­i­cis­ing you! It is hard to put that away in a place where you are not hurt by it and that was my fear for them. But I would never say don’t do it, be­cause I think it is a glo­ri­ous pro­fes­sion and I am so thank­ful for every­thing it has let me ex­press.

I think hav­ing an act­ing ca­reer has al­lowed me to have a strong fam­ily life...

Go­ing from job to job, never know­ing where the next one would be, has al­lowed me to spend time with my four kids – more than if I’d worked at a desk job. That’s a re­ally tough gig, and I don’t know if I could have had four kids and done that. De­ci­sions I made in my ca­reer were not al­ways based on aes­thetic cri­te­ria: was it near, was it go­ing to be shot in the va­ca­tion? You make all sorts of com­pro­mises in or­der to have this other thing that you value. My girls and my son and my hus­band are all way too much in each other’s busi­ness, I would say, but we’re close and that’s im­por­tant. I al­ways tried to stay chal­lenged and work hard, but also keep my hand in and stir the pot at home.

Meryl pic­tured with her hus­band of 40 years Don Gum­mer.

The ac­tress with three of her four chil­dren.

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