77th Cannes Film Festival: Meryl Streep, the Hollywood exception

77th Cannes Film Festival: Meryl Streep, the Hollywood exception
77th Cannes Film Festival: Meryl Streep, the Hollywood exception

Actress with exceptional longevity, Meryl Streep, who will receive an honorary Palme d’Or on Tuesday evening at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, has defied Hollywood rules by playing intense women throughout an impressive filmography.

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In a fifty-year career, “The Queen Meryl” has garnered almost every distinction, including a record 21 Oscar nominations and 3 golden statuettes.

She has collaborated with Michael Cimino, Sydney Pollack, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderbergh…

“I have everything I could have dreamed of,” she admitted in 2011 after her third Oscar. “Let’s leave some for the others! Frankly, I understand that we’re tired of Streep. Even me, it shocks me!”

Described as the best actress in the world – a title that this discreet woman categorically rejected – she has long presented herself as a mother of four children, married to the same man for 45 years and who, incidentally, worked in cinema.

“She is the most mystery-free person I know. She is very simply a young American woman, charming, healthy, attractive, intelligent,” said Alan J. Pakula in 1982. “But as soon as she plays, she is the most mysterious woman there is.”

An atypical beauty, this blonde with a high forehead and slightly deviated nose does not correspond to Hollywood standards. When she debuted in 1976, producer Dino de Laurentiis even deemed her “too ugly” for the remake of “King Kong”.

Women’s stories

Born June 22, 1949 in New Jersey, Mary Louise Streep grew up in a happy middle-class family and discovered the joys of the stage in high school.

With an excellent memory and a gift for accents, she took a master’s degree in theater from Yale.

On Broadway, she juggled between roles and was spotted by Hollywood. It was Robert de Niro in “Taxi Driver” who convinced her to try cinema: “I told myself that I would like to be an actress of her caliber when I grew up!”

“Dismayed” by her screen debut in “Julia” (1977), she persisted and won her first Oscar nomination in her second film in “Voyage au bout de l’enfer” (1978), where she counterbalanced the male narrative of the Vietnam War.

She contrasts with other actresses by playing ordinary, even unsympathetic, women who tell another story of the 20th century.

In “Kramer vs. Kramer” – her first Oscar (1979) – she played a mother who leaves her family before demanding custody of her son. It thus bears witness to the lives of millions of Western women, torn between their home and their need for independence.

Also at ease in the melodrama – “The French Lieutenant’s Mistress” (1981) – she is unforgettable as a Holocaust survivor in “Sophie’s Choice” (2nd Oscar) and as Karen Blixen in “Out of Africa” ​​( 1985).

Comedy against obsolescence

In her forties, seeing the offers dwindling, she dared to make the comedy “Death Suits You So Well” (1992). Three years later, Clint Eastwood offered him one of his finest roles in “On the Road to Madison”.

Same masterstroke in 2006 with the comedy “The Devil Wears Prada” which allowed him, at the threshold of sixty, to breathe extraordinary momentum into his career. Totally uninhibited, she returns to the musical “Mamma Mia!” (2008) and won his third Oscar for “The Iron Lady”.

“Far from disappearing into traditional post-fifties obsolescence, she defied Hollywood conventions and reached new heights,” wrote her biographer Michael Schulman. “No actress born before 1960 gets a role in Hollywood without first being turned down by Meryl.”

Dean of the progressive Hollywood elite, ardent opponent of Trump, “Saint Meryl” was pushed from her pedestal when #MeToo broke out in 2017. “YOUR SILENCE is THE problem”, asserts Rose McGowan, one of the first actresses to denounce Harvey Weinstein. Meryl Streep claims to have no knowledge of the behavior of the producer whom she described as “God”.

The actress donated her fees from “The Iron Lady” to her project for a national museum of women’s history and raised $15 million with George Clooney to support the actors’ and screenwriters’ strike in 2023.

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