timeline

born 1949

Back when she was doing Shakespeare in New York and just starting out in movies, Meryl Streep was dubbed the actress of her generation. "Just as with {Laurence} Olivier," a critic wrote in 1979, "there's nothing she can't do."

Three Academy Awards, 8 Golden Globes and more than 60 roles later, this early rave review has held true. Whether playing a mercurial magazine editor, strict nun, fun-loving divorcee, French chef or British prime minister, Meryl's versatility and ability to disappear into a role seem matched only by her humility. "My achievement, if you can call it that," she says, "is that I've basically pretended to be extraordinary people my entire life, and now I'm being mistaken for one."

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Meryl Streep (24)

"People outside of an experience sometimes have a greater insight than those living it."

The Rising Star of Meryl Streep | february 1979

"Good acting is the way we introduce ourselves to others, the way we discover people at a party."

The Rising Star of Meryl Streep | february 1979

"Good luck, and welcome to the Big Time."

commencement speech | may 1983

"I'm never so sure as I was in my mid-twenties."

Streep's Ahead | december 1998

"My achievement, if you can call it that, is that I've basically pretended to be extraordinary people my entire life, and now I'm being mistaken for one."

Belknap Visitor in the Humanities program | november 2006

"The people I have played in movies and in the theater have all felt like me to me."

Belknap Visitor in the Humanities program | november 2006

"I've always been drawn to characters who are difficult to translate to other people—prissy women, disagreeable women, women whose motives are easily misconstrued, women who are hard to love."

Belknap Visitor in the Humanities program | november 2006

"You have to embrace getting older. Life is precious, and when you’ve lost a lot of people, you realize each day is a gift."

Meryl Up Close | 2008

"In acting, living in the moment is the whole point. The trick is to live in the moment in your own life."

Meryl Up Close | 2008

"I don't think I ever had a good sense of how on the edge of the abyss I was. You have optimism when you're younger and I wasn't afraid."

Meryl Streep: Movies, Marriage and Turning 60 | january 2009

"As there begins to be less time ahead of you, you want to be exactly who you are, without making it easier for everyone else."

Something About Meryl | january 2010

"Being a celebrity has taught me to hide, but being an actor has opened my soul."

Barnard College commencement address | may 2010

"There is no 'normal.' There's only change, and resistance to it, and then more change."

Barnard College | may 2010

"You can't do your job and be afraid."

Meryl Streep: I'm Not Always Happy | july 2011

"I have always liked and been intrigued by older people, and the idea that behind them lives every human trauma, drama, glory, jokes, love."

Meryl Streep; Force of Nature | december 2011

"When you're doing it right there's a thrilling suspension of the day to day and you're in someone else's head."

The Many Faces of Meryl Streep | december 2011

"It's good to have something that is undiscoverable, which frankly I think every human being has. I don't think I'm that mysterious."

The Many Faces of Meryl Streep | december 2011

"I'm not insane. I do know that I'm acting, but you kind of forget about it."

The Many Faces of Meryl Streep | december 2011

"It's not about the audience. It's about fooling the other actors into believing who you say you are."

Fresh Air | february 2012

"Being a role model...is equal parts being who you actually are and what people hope you will be."

Meryl Streep Honors Hillary Clinton | march 2012

"I don't think about voice being separate from the way you hold your head, or the way you sit or the way you put on lipstick. It's all a piece of a person, and it's all driven by conviction."

Fresh Air | december 2014

"Through their work they shared a piece of their soul."

Academy Awards | february 2015

"I wanted to be Tom Sawyer, not Becky."

panel at the 2015 Women in the World Summit | april 2015

"What does it take to be the first female anything? It takes grit and it takes grace."

Democratic National Convention | july 2016
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curated with care by Kathleen Murray + Meghan Miller Brawley {january 2015}