What’s the matter with Meryl?

Photo by Kevin Winter , Golden Globes 2010--

This is not a rhetorical question.   And I’m not being coy.  I don’t have an answer to this question—but if there’s nothing the matter with Meryl Streep, then something is the matter with that.   Seriously.  Could anyone be this magical?

It’s Hollywood  awards season.  AKA Streep season.  Time for Meryl to scoop up statues.

When she won the Golden Globes for best actress, the only big news is that her stiffest competition was herself.  She came in first, and probably she also came in second.

She accepted her award seeming honored and humbled, all at once.   She’s such an authentic actress that somehow we believe she’s really surprised— as if she hasn’t already won a gazillion awards and more Oscars and Golden Globes than anyone else in history.

When she speaks onstage, she always seems spontaneous,  almost struggling for words—-and then she finds words not only articulate, but always an absolutely perfect fit for the moment—in this case, appreciation for the honor mixed with the horror of Haiti.

As good as she is with a script, she’s almost better without one.

This while managing to strike the right balance not only in her affect and acceptance speech but also her  appearance— glamorous enough to belong in Hollywood—but normal enough to belong to the human race like the rest of us.

You never read about her in tabloids.   No messy divorce.    No loud public fights with her husband.  No arrest for shoplifting.  Or drunk driving.  Not even even bailing out her kids for drunk driving.

What kind of Hollywood star doesn’t make headlines?  Who has no addictions and vices and skeletons in the closet?  No one complains she’s demanding; no one disses her diva behavior behind her back.  Her producers and directors and costars  LIKE her, they really really like her.

So what’s the matter?

I can accept the long stable marriage, the normal children, the lack of controversy or  conflict.   I could even accept her being that kind of rare beautiful woman who sincerely seems unaware that she’s beautiful.

I could accept the brilliance.  That back in the day, before Jodie Foster went to Yale and Natalie Portman went to Harvard, when hopeful actresses went straight to Hollywood,   Meryl went to Vassar and then to Yale Drama school where I first saw her onstage–even then and there she was a star.

In all the years since, she hasn’t made a major professional or personal misstep.

She always stood for quality and sensibility and sense.  And now the woman who recently morphed from the fashion-forward editor of Vogue to the fashion-less Julia Child has morphed again —she stands as  what’s possible not only for actresses but for all women.

At an age when actresses are retired— or surgically altered and unrecognizable; when women her age are either ignored or invisible, Meryl Streep emerges as a bankable and popular movie star.

So now she’s not only playing the part but she’s also writing the script— and not just in Hollywood.   In the home and heart of every woman of a certain age.

She gets to fulfill all of our fantasies—both on and offscreen.    And unless she’s even better an actress than we thought, she’s enjoying every minute.  And who wouldn’t want to spend your working hours with every attractive and appealing man anywhere near our age group.

It’s all part of the magic of Meryl.    The mystery is how women like me like a woman like her.

She spends an entire movie in bed with Alec Baldwin and I can’t even hate her.   I wish I could– but I’d rather just be her friend and have a cup of coffee in her kitchen.

Which is where I’m drawing the line.

After her last two films making it look easy and effortless playing women who were accomplished cooks,   I need to believe she was acting.    Seriously.  I’m hoping this is something Meryl can’t do—-I’m hoping she can’t cook.

Or I really might have to hate her.

Also posted on the Huffington Post


  1. Love this, and love her too, but you are so right :) I think her cheekbones must contain some magic. Wait, didn’t she have an affair with her ex? Oh wait, that was a movie :) I loved her in Mama Mia, could watch that over and over and have yet to see Julie and Julia, can’t wait.

  2. The same goes for Tom Hanks, in my opinion. I’ve sometimes debated which famous person I might like to spend an afternoon with, but they’re all so weird, eccentric and unpleasant (even the dead ones), that I’ve only been able to come up with Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Audrey Hepburn.

  3. Oh, my dear sweet friend…You said EVERYTHING I am thinking about this brilliant, talented actress.

    Thank-you for a fantastic column!!

  4. She made me cry during her speech last night. What a rare thing: a true role model.

  5. Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky says:

    And she was born the same year we were!

  6. All of the above…all true.

    Still hard to believe that somehow she remains unsoiled—and unspoiled.

    A truly remarkable woman.

  7. Lindsay M says:

    Have you read the Vanity Fair interview? My favorite quote: “I can’t remember the last time I really worried about being appealing.”


  8. Thank you–I loved that interview and the pictures–and I love that line you mentioned. If only everyone could feel that way—and look like Meryl.

  9. Marla Wentner says:

    It does make you wonder how big a part genes play in Mery’s sense of goodness and calm. Her mother sounds like she was an amazingly centered woman, and Meryl Streep’s daughter, Mamie Gummer, who is on her way to a pretty good film career, also seems to have the calm core, as does Meryl’s husband…so, if that’s the case, I think I am definitely in trouble!

  10. Well, maybe in Meryl’s family, there’s a gene for the calm core. If you find out how to get one, please let me know! LOL.

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