"In the nearly four years of this series, no name has been mentioned more often, or with more respect, than that of tonight's guest.... She is one of those rare actors who defines her generation, her time, and her craft."
—James Lipton, Inside the Actor's Studio 1998
Mary Louise "Meryl" Streep (born 1949), widely considered by critics and fans alike to be the best actress working today, broke Oscar nomination records with her nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Adaptation). Now with seventeen Oscar nominations and three wins to her credit, she has tackled virtually every genre in Hollywood, including romantic comedies (Defending Your Life), serious dramas (Sophies Choice, Doubt), action-adventure (The River Wild), comedies (She-Devil), classic romances (Out of Africa), and and even a musical (Mamma Mia). Easily identified by her trademark nose, she has also appeared in, among others, The Devil Wears Prada, Silkwood, Angels in America (as an elderly male rabbi, among others), and Julie and Julia.
She has been described as "the successor to Bette Davis," and in fact Davis herself endorsed Meryl's early work. Her versatility and ability to act with her eyes and face are now unique in Hollywood, but the talent evident in every film is reminiscent of Davis at her best. Onscreen she plays characters with tremendous depth, but oddly Meryl has no 'trademark' - she transforms herself completely for each role she plays in a way no Hollywood actress has done before or since. (Her facility with accents is one of the most praised weapons in her arsenal.) Although critics have described her as 'robotic' and 'acting from the neck up,' recent movies like Mamma Mia! provide evidence to the contrary.
She is the standard to which all other actresses and most actors as well are compared, and the phrase "You're no Meryl Streep" has been used on multiple occasions at all levels of the acting industry. In essence, she has defined the standards for not only her generation but every generation to come.
- The Deer Hunter — Linda
- Kramer vs. Kramer — Joanna Kramer (Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress)
- The French Lieutenant's Woman — Sarah/Anna
- Sophie's Choice — Sophie Zawistowski (Academy Award for Best Actress)
- Silkwood — Karen Silkwood
- Out of Africa — Karen Dinesen
- A Cry In the Dark — Lindy Chamberlain
- Postcards From the Edge — Suzanne Vale
- Death Becomes Her — Madeline Ashton
- The Bridges of Madison County — Francesca Johnson
- Music of the Heart — Roberta Guaspari
- Adaptation. — Susan Orlean
- The Hours — Clarissa Vaughan
- The Devil Wears Prada — Miranda Priestly
- Mamma Mia — Donna Sheridan
- Doubt — Sister Aloysius Beauvier
- Julie & Julia — Julia Child
- The Iron Lady — Margaret Thatcher (Academy Award for Best Actress)
- August: Osage County — Violet Weston (to be released)