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Glorious at 75

Meryl Streep gave a new dimension to cinematic acting in the 70s, writes Ranjan Das Gupta. Today is the actor’s 75th birthday
Last Updated : 22 June 2024, 01:34 IST

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At 75, Meryl Streep has every reason to be proud. But she is grounded and has no airs. The International film fraternity is abuzz with the news of Streep winning the Honorary Golden Palm D’or at Cannes Film Festival in May. At the same time, for an illustrious career as her, it can be said that she received the accolade quite late.

Streep who gave a new dimension to cinematic acting in the late ’70s needs no introduction. She received 13 nominations at the Oscars. 

She entered Hollywood during a period when previous stalwarts like Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn were on their way out. Streep filled their vacuum with polished performances of the method school. ‘Krammer Versus Krammer’, ‘Sophie’s Choice’, ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ and ‘Out of Africa’ remain some of her histrionic milestones. 

Neither Dustin Hoffman nor Robert Redford or Robert De Niro could eclipse her. With the twitch of an eyebrow, she expressed volumes.

While she was elegant in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, in ‘The Iron Lady’ she was full of grit and passion in the role of British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. She once confessed that looks-wise and in performance, Katherine Hepburn was the ideal choice to play the Iron Lady. 

She was right and her acting abilities are quite similar to her legendary predecessor. Robert Redford once stated that he did notice flashes of Hepburn in Streep when she emoted. She was at Cannes in 1989 for ‘Evil Angels’ and was justly awarded.

There is also a hidden fighter in Streep. Streep was a staunch critic of former US president Donald Trump’s policies and also in support of the recent writers and artistes strike which shook Hollywood. 

She voiced her concern with many workers of the film industry that artificial intelligence was robbing many artistes of their bread and butter. Never has the ebullient actress failed to support noble causes and rise to the occasion.

During the shooting of ‘Out Of Africa’ (1985), she had a personal conversation with Robert Redford regarding various aspects of cinema. Redford pointed out that legends like Henry Fonda, Cary Grant and Charlton Heston were no longer seen in international cinema. 

To this Streep laughed and stated that Redford did successfully carry on the legacy of Gregory Peck and Heston. She did also confess that there was a lack of talent during the 80s in Hollywood.

Robert De Niro enjoyed working with Streep in every frame of ‘Falling In Love’. He admired her romantic emotions. In the suspense thriller ‘Still of the Night’, she was bare bodied but never appeared vulgar. In fact she inspired Julia Roberts to move away from her ‘Pretty Woman’ image and accept challenging characters like Erin Brokovich. 

Whether she faces the arc lights anymore or not is of no concern to Streep. She can rest with an illustrious career which places her among the top 10 actresses of the world.

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Published 22 June 2024, 01:34 IST

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