10 Things You Didn't Know About... Meryl Streep
With 'Awards Season' already underway, over the next few weeks we'll be bringing you features on some of the film industry's most decorated actors, actresses, films and directors. This week we're focussing on actresses, so today we're kicking off with 10 things you may not know about Meryl Streep...
Picking up yet another nomination at this year's Academy Awards, Meryl Streep is the most nominated actress in Oscar history, with this year's addition taking her tally to 19 in total. Of these 19 she has won 3 times, putting her on equal footing with the likes of Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day Lewis. Only Katherine Hepburn has won more, still holding the record with 4 wins in the acting categories.
From her first Best Actress win in Kramer vs Kramer to her most recent triumph for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, Streep's performances have led her to be considered by many as the greatest living actress, so as one of the world's most famous and well-respected actors, she hardly needs any introduction from us, but how well do you really know the lady born Mary Louise Streep?
We went digging around and pulled up ten facts that you may not know about Meryl Streep. Enjoy...
1. Katherine Hepburn hated her
Proving that love for Meryl Streep is not quite universal, one of her most public detractors has been, ironically, the only actress to have won more Oscars than she has. Hepburn was famously dismissive of the young Streep's talents, describing her acting as “click, click, click” (suggesting that her performances were so transparent you can see the cogs moving in her head) and labelling her as “my least favourite modern actress.” Can't win 'em all, Meryl...
2. She almost played Ellen Ripley in Alien
In an unpublished part of an interview recorded with Alien producer Gordon Carroll, he revealed that their casting director had shortlisted two actresses to audition in New York for the part of Ripley – one bing Sigourney Weaver, the other being Meryl Streep. However, Carroll was aware that Streep's then-fiancee John Cazale had just died from cancer and he didn't feel it would be appropriate to ask her to travel to New York City while she was still grieving. The rest, as they say, is history.
3. She wrote some of her own dialogue for Kramer vs Kramer...
Streep felt that some of her character's lines in her first Oscar-winning role were written from a perspective that was too male, arguing in a meeting with the film's director Robert Benton that her character was “too evil” and didn't represent the real experiences of a woman going through a divorce. Benton allowed her to re-write some of the script in two key scenes, despite protests from her co-star Dustin Hoffman, and it paid off, with Streep winning her first Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the 1980 Academy Awards.
4. … and left the resulting Oscar in a toilet
It seems Meryl was pretty pleased with her win and she celebrated hard. So hard, in fact, that by the end of the night she was reportedly so drunk she accidentally left her award sitting on top of a toilet in the ladies' bathroom. Fortunately, somebody spotted it and handed it in, allowing the statuette to be reunited with its owner.
5. Her first Oscar nomination was for a role she didn't really want
Streep says she only took the role of Linda in Michael Cimino's masterpiece The Deer Hunter because John Cazale was, at this point, terminally ill and she wanted to spend as much time with him as she could while the film was shooting. Despite her feeling that the role was little more than the “vague, stock girlfriend” of Robert DeNiro's character, the Academy felt otherwise about her portrayal and she was nominated for her first acting Oscar as a result, losing out to Maggie Smith for her role in California Suite.
6. She literally begged Alan J. Pakula for the lead role in Sophie's Choice
By contrast, one role she really, really wanted was that of the lead in Pakula's 1982 film, so much so that she claims she literally threw herself on the floor and begged him. Learning to speak Polish especially for the role, her language skills were apparently so impressive that many of the locals on the location shoots actually thought she was Polish. The decision to swallow her pride in order to get the role proved to be a wise one, picking up her second Oscar for her performance.
7. She has been nominated for a Grammy five times
Streep's impressive tally of Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations is well documented, but did you know that she has also been nominated for five Grammys too? Well, now you do. The first three of these were all in the Best Album for Children category, with the fourth also appearing in the newly re-branded version of the same award, Best Spoken Word Album for Children. As the title suggests, all four of these were for spoken word performances, but her fifth nomination, received in 2009, was for her contribution to the soundtrack for the ABBA musical Mamma Mia!
8. She would like to spank director Spike Jonze...
At least, that's what she said. Picking up a BAFTA in 2003 on behalf of absent screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann, Streep misread his faxed acceptance speech to a packed audience and instead of 'thanking' the director, she offered him something a little more naughty than a thank-you letter.
9. Initially, she didn't want the role of Margaret Thatcher because she disliked the character
And who could blame her? Still, fortunately for Streep she was persuaded to take the role on by Iron Lady director Phyllida Lloyd, another decision that proved to be a winner for the actress, who picked up her third Oscar for her portrayal of the former Prime Minister.
10. She hated her first movie so much she almost quit film acting
Streep's first appearance in a feature film was a part in Fred Zinnemann's 1977 movie Julia, alongside Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, but the actress wasn't pleased with the results. Most of her parts were left on the cutting room floor and when she did appear onscreen, Streep was horrified: "I had a bad wig and they took the words from the scene I shot with Jane and put them in my mouth in a different scene. I thought, I've made a terrible mistake, no more movies. I hate this business". Thankfully, she changed her mind.
Check out some of the great titles available in our Awards campaign with DVDs from £4.99, this week we celebrate Best Actress!