Meryl Streep Biography 2

MERYL STREEP has portrayed an astonishing array of roles in a career that has cut its own unique path from the theatre through film and television. A two-time Academy Award winner and a recipient of a record-breaking thirteen Oscar nominations, Streep had never acted in a drama before her sophomore year at Vassar College, when she won the title role in Strindberg's “Miss Julie.” An honors exchange program led to Dartmouth where she studied playwriting as well as set and costume design. After graduating cum laude from Vassar, she won a scholarship to the Yale School of Drama where she received a Master of Fine Arts degree, and the Carol Dye Acting Award at graduation, becoming the first woman in the school's history to receive this honor.

After a summer with the O'Neill Playwrights conference in Connecticut, Streep moved to New York and made her debut in Joseph Papp's Lincoln Center production of Trelawney of the Wells with Mary Beth Hurt and John Lithgow. Critics began to take notice in that first season of the versatility, imagination and range that has distinguished her work from the beginning.

She went from the Public Theatre to the Phoenix Repertory, where, in rotating productions, she played a nineteenth century Southern belle in the Civil War melodrama “Secret Service,” a sleek secretary in Arthur Miller's one-act “A Memory of Two Mondays,” and a slovenly floozy in Tennessee Williams' “27 Wagons Full of Cotton.” For this virtuoso achievement, Streep won the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Theater World Award, and a Tony nomination. She performed in several productions in her first season in New York after graduation, including the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of “Henry V,” and “Measure for Measure” opposite John Cazale and Sam Waterston.

She starred on Broadway in the Brecht/Weill musical “Happy End,” and won an Obie for her performance in the off-Broadway production of “Alice at the Palace.” During this period she also won the Emmy for Best Actress for her portrayal of a devastated German wife in the controversial eight part mini-series “Holocaust.”

Streep began her feature film career as Jane Fonda's society friend in “Julia,” directed by Fred Zinneman. In her second screen role, Streep starred opposite Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken in “The Deer Hunter,” receiving her first Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a working-class Pennsylvania girl who's lonely, small-town life is irrevocably altered by the Vietnam War. Her next film was the political drama “The Seduction of Joe Tynan,” with Alan Alda.

She returned to the stage that summer to play Katherine opposite Raul Julia in “The Taming of the Shrew” for Joe Papp in his free Central Park production. She performed the Shakespeare at night, and during the day alternated filming “Manhattan” for Woody Allen and “Kramer vs. Kramer” with Dustin Hoffman. As Hoffman's troubled ex-wife in a custody battle, she garnered her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She won her third Oscar nomination and the British Academy Award for her next film, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” directed by Karel Reisz, in which she played the dual roles of a sophisticated contemporary actress and a tragic 19th century heroine. The following year, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her extraordinary performance in the title role of “Sophie’s Choice,” directed by Alan Pakula from his adaptation of William Styron's novel. She was nominated again, the next year, for her portrayal of Karen Silkwood, the activist/heroine of Mike Nichols’ “Silkwood.” Reuniting with Robert De Niro in her next film, “Falling in Love,” she won the David Award, the Italian equivalent of the Oscar.

Streep completed two films in 1985: Fred Schepisi's screen adaptation of David Hare's “Plenty,” and Sydney Pollack's sweeping romantic adventure “Out of Africa,” for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and another David award. She returned home and filmed two projects co-starring Jack Nicholson: Mike Nichols’ “Heartburn,” and “Ironweed,” directed by Hector Babenco, for which she received her seventh Oscar nomination.

She then traveled to Australia for Fred Schepisi's “A Cry in the Dark.” This performance as the infamous, unfairly maligned Lindy Chamberlain won Streep the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, The New York Film Critics Circle, an AFI award and another Oscar nomination.

She next won Golden Globe nominations for her work in Susan Seidelman's “She-Devil,” and “Postcards from the Edge” (with Nichols again) starring opposite Shirley MacLaine. This adaptation by Carrie Fisher from her own novel won Streep praise for her singing, and yet another Oscar nomination. She continued to find comedic work with Albert Brooks in his delicious contemplation of a neurotic's trial in purgatory in “Defending Your Life,” and Robert Zemeckis' docu-drama on aging in L.A., “Death Becomes Her,” co-starring Goldie Hawn. After returning to the States from Europe where she filmed Billie August's “The House of the Spirits,” from Isabel Allende's acclaimed novel, she tackled the physical challenges of an action movie in “The River Wild,” directed by Curtis Hanson, taking Kevin Bacon down Class IV rapids in Oregon and Montana. She next returned to television, co-producing with director Jim Abrahams, the real-life drama “First Do No Harm,” earning an Emmy nomination for her work as the mother of an epileptic child who pursues alternative therapies. Her next film, Clint Eastwood's “The Bridges of Madison County,” won her overwhelming acclaim and Screen Actor's Guild, Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for her complex portrayal of a lonely Iowa farm wife who opens her heart to a stranger. The following year she was seen opposite Liam Neeson in Barbet Schroeder's “Before and After,” and opposite Diane Keaton and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Marvin’s Room,” for which she received another Golden Globe nomination.

In 1999 she teamed with Renee Zellweger in “One True Thing,” from Anna Quindlen's prize-winning novel about a prodigal daughter's return home to care for the mother whose life she had undervalued. Streep received SAG, Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for this performance, as well as the Berlinale Camera Award at the Berlin Film Festival. That same year she appeared with an ensemble of extraordinary Irish and English actors in the critically lauded “Dancing at Lughnasa,” based on Brian Friel's play, directed by Pat O'Connor. In 1999 Streep learned to play the violin for Wes Craven's “Music of the Heart.” The film depicted the real life struggle of teacher and single mother Roberta Guaspari, who brings the violin to inner city kids, empowering their lives through music. She earned her twelfth Academy Award nomination for her work in this film. Streep and her family moved to New York City in 2001, where she made another homecoming as well. She returned to Central Park's Delacorte Theatre in Mike Nichols’ critical and popular hit “The Seagull,” a free production of the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theatre. The extraordinary cast also included Kevin Kline, Christopher Walken, Marcia Gay Harden, Natalie Portman, John Goodman, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. This past summer, Meryl partnered again with Kevin Kline in the New York Public Theatre production of “Mother Courage” in Central Park in an adaptation by Tony Kushner, directed by George C. Wolfe.In 2003, Streep’s work in “The Hours” won her the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival together with her co-stars, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore, as well as SAG and Golden Globe nominations. In the same year, her eccentric portrayal of Susan Orlean in Spike Jonze's “Adaptation,” was recognized with a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and BAFTA and Oscar nominations. That year she was given the Honorary Cesar for Career Achievement in Paris, where she also was accorded a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest civilian honor given by the French government. The following year Streep appeared alongside Al Pacino and Emma Thompson in the HBO epic “Angels in America,” directed by Mike Nichols from Tony Kushner's adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning plays. Playing four characters, she won the Golden Globe® and Screen Actors Guild Best Actress awards for this work. Streep’s most recent work includes “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” both for Paramount, “Prime” with Uma Thurman, “A Prairie Home Companion” with Lily Tomlin and Lindsay Lohan, directed by Robert Altman, and “The Devil Wears Prada” with Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci, for which she has received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Meryl also provided the voice for the Queen Aunt in Warner Bros.’ “The Ant Bully.” She has recently completed production on “Dark Matter” directed by Chen Shi-Zheng. Upcoming projects include “Rendition” with Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Alan Arkin and “Lions for Lambs” opposite Tom Cruise and Robert Redford, who is also directing. Streep was a co-founder of Mothers and Others, a consumer advocacy group that worked successfully for 12 years to protect the health of children and the environment and to support organic and sustainable agriculture. She continues her advocacy work with the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, and Equality Now, a champion of the rights of women and girls worldwide. She has been married for 28 years to artist Don Gummer; they are the parents of a son and three daughters.