the "devil" in miss meryl
Streep reaps the benefits of longevity, indelible performances and most important, family

The Popcorn Reel Spotlights: Meryl Streep
Her two upcoming films: "A Prairie Home Companion" and "The Devil Wears Prada"

Meryl Streep: Happier than ever before.  (Photo: Brigitte Lacombe)

    June is a busy month for Meryl Streep -- on the big screen, that is.  Well, everyday is a busy one for the Oscar-winning actor.  Meryl Streep, now at 57, is more committed to family than ever before, her illustrious career notwithstanding.  She is in frequent contact with her daughters, and in a recent interview with Parade Magazine, explained that she always was a family woman.  "I always knew I would like to, if I could find the right person, have a family."  Ms. Streep does "not look at her career as separate from my life."  She and her husband of 27 years, sculptor Don Gummer, are a tag-team when it comes to looking after their three daughters.  They also have a son.  "I back Don up.  He is my back up.  We agree.  So thank God for that!" 

    The "devil" in the title of this piece is not intended as a reference to Ms. Streep being any kind of demon or devilish figure; it is purely a reference to her hard-working ethic both on and off-screen, an ethic she credits to her late mother, who passed away in 2001 at age 86.  Ms. Streep however, has played a devil of sorts, on several occasions: in the film She-Devil (1989) opposite Rosanne Arnold she made life for the television star a misery.  In "Death Becomes Her" (1992) she haunts Bruce Willis and is haunted by Goldie Hawn, and on soon (June 30) in North America she is the "devil" in the title of the film, "The Devil Wears Prada", playing a hard-driving magazine editor who makes Anne Hathaway's life a living hell.  Two weeks prior, she will be on the big screen in Robert Altman's film "A Prairie Home Companion", where she plays a showbiz mother of a serious, self-absorbed poet daughter (Lindsay Lohan).

    And that's just the start -- Meryl Streep will be filming, or will have filmed three more big-screen projects in 2006.  A film called "Dark Matter" which is currently in production; "First Man" where Ms. Streep plays the president of the United States to Robert De Niro's first husband role; and will play Watergate scandal whistleblower Martha Mitchell, in a cast that includes fellow Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow, and nominees Annette Bening and Jill Clayburgh. 

The Manchurian Candidate Movie Stills: Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep, Jonathan Demme
Oscar in Kramer vs. Kramer (1976 -- photo: Columbia Pictures); Oscar nomination in "Adaptation" (2002 -- photo: Columbia Pictures); playing a Hillary Clinton-esque U.S. senator in "The Manchurian Candidate" (2004 -- photo Paramount Pictures.)

    Ms. Streep has a resume that has seen her work with the creme de la creme of leading men including: Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Denzel Washington, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis.  She has also shared the screen with a sorority of fine leading ladies like Lily Tomlin, Shirley MacLaine, Diane Keaton, Julianne Moore, Goldie Hawn, Uma Thurman and Glenn Close, to name a few.  She has also worked on stage, most recently in a Shakespeare in the Park production in New York City's Central Park, which was sold out for the summer several years ago in 2001, in "The Seagull" , opposite Kevin Kline.

    Activism is an occupation very close to Ms. Streep's heart.  Over the years she has been near or right on the frontlines of numerous causes and has been an outspoken opponent of the ongoing war in Iraq.  During a speech at the Golden Globe Awards two years ago she made no secret of her disagreement with the current American administration's priorities has traveled down.  "I just want to say that I don't think two biggest problems in America are that too many people want to commit their lives to one another until death do us part, and steroids in sports.  I don't think those are our two biggest problems."  At the time of the speech, she was accepting a Globe award for the anti-HIV/AIDS drama "Angels in America".  At a fundraiser for U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry during that same year, Ms. Streep said: "During Shock and Awe I wondered which of the megaton bombs Jesus, our president's personal savior, would have personally dropped on the sleeping families of Baghdad."  A few moments later she added, "I wondered, 'Does Jesus understand collateral damage?'"  Responding to a concern raised by a New York Times reporter during a interview in 2004 on which the topic of celebrities speaking out in political causes emerged, Ms. Streep said, "it's not your profession so much that defines you as your personhood. . . you don't jettison your citizenship just because you're famous."

    Though she gets neither the attention nor the scorn that Jane Fonda and Susan Sarandon have from various members of the conservative political base in America, Ms. Streep has made mention that she will continue to speak out when the situation demands.


Streep, center with Lily Tomlin and Garrison Keilor (left)  and Lindsay Lohan in "A Prairie Home Companion."  (photo: Picturehouse)
 Ms. Streep standing down Anne Hathaway (seated), in "The Devil Wears Prada." (photo: 20th Century Fox)

    Ms. Streep's acting career is anything but slowing down.  Meryl Streep has been nominated for an Oscar no less than 13 times, more than any man or woman in Academy Awards history, including Jack Nicholson (who with three Oscar wins has one more than Ms. Streep does), and the late legend Katharine Hepburn.  "I still love acting.  I love it.  Love It.  Love it.  Love it, love it, love it," Ms. Streep told the New York Times two years ago.

    The latest stretch of films in June and filming beyond then sufficiently appears to prove Ms. Streep right.  Indeed, she is working like the "devil".

-- Written by Omar P.L. Moore



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