Meryl streep robert redford wedding

Oddly enough, one of the most common queries we’ve received from readers throughout 2016 is “Are Robert Redford and Meryl Streep married?” or “Are Merely Street and Robert Redford engaged?” (We’re hoping the latter is an artifact of auto-correct.) Such inquiries were puzzling because those two Academy Award-winning film icons are not in fact married to each other, they’re not planning to get married, nor are they even dating — and as far as we know, there’s never been any hint of romance between them outside of the characters they portrayed in the 1985 film Out of Africa.

Moreover, both actors have long been wed to someone else — Robert Redford with Sibylle Szaggars since 2009, and Meryl Streep with Don Gummer since 1978 — making a planned or present marriage between them somewhat awkward, if not criminal.

As far as we can tell, this rumor originated with one of those sleazy advertisements that masquerade as entertainment-related magazine articles, using headlines and opening paragraphs sure to draw in readers eager for celebrity gossip before pivoting into pitches for skin care products (one of which left many readers wondering if Ellen DeGeneres was really leaving her daytime talk show to promote a new skincare line):

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Meryl Streep doesn’t plead the fifth. When the award-winning actress sat down with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live she had to face a few difficult questions.

Streep could have plead the fifth (Cohen gives his guests one free pass during the question round) but the actress decided to answer all of his ridiculous questions, including, who she would shag, marry, or kill when given the choices Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, and Dustin Hoffman.

Streep has acted alongside all three of the leading men and presumably knows them all well. Streep starred with Redford in Out of Africa, Nicholson in Heartburn, and Hoffman in Kramer Vs. Kramer.

Hoffman and Streep played a married couple in the movie which landed both of them an Oscar Award for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Still, Streep decided that if she had to kill, marry, or shag, Redford, Nicholson, or Hoffman, the rainman would be getting the axe.

Steep’s less interesting answers were: I was never surprised when I didn’t win an Oscar. And Still Of The Night was a bad movie.

Here’s the video of Meryl Streep playing “Plead The Fifth” on Watch What Happens Live.

Are you a fan of Meryl Streep? The actress is currently out promoting her new film, Hope Springs.

Here’s the trailer for the new Streep flick.

So, who would you marry, shag, and kill? Hoffman, Redford, or Nicholson?

Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Robert Redford, Golden Boy

by Anne Helen Petersen

Robert Redford still does it for me. He did it for me when I first saw him in Butch Cassidy, he did it for me when he was washing Meryl Streep’s hair in Out of Africa. He did it for me in uniform in The Way We Were and with full hippie beard in Jeremiah Johnson. He’s classically handsome — the type of handsome on which you, your mom, your grandmother, and your best gay friend can all agree — with a flatness of expression that morphs sardonic when you least expect it. He has a storytime voice, the perfect level of tan, and haphazardly spaced highlights that betray a life lived en plein air. I love him for his palpable Westernness, his ease with open spaces, the scent of high altitude that seems to waft from him. He looks as good in jean cut-offs as he does in a well-tailored suit. And for nearly 40 years, he’s been Hollywood’s golden boy: likable and bankable, if a bit self-serious.

Redford belongs to the class of actors I think of in my head as the silver foxes: indigenous to the ’60s and ’70s, they’ve ripened before our eyes. Most of them have semi- or totally retired, some have passed away; all live in my memory both as their original, gorgeous selves and their well-lined, refined later-in-life iterations. Newman and Beatty, of course, but also De Niro and Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Jack Nicholson, Jane Fonda and Julie Christie.

They’re not classic Hollywood, per se. They never had to deal with studio contracts. They got to use their real names and marry whom they pleased. They shunned publicity, or at least pretended to shun publicity as they posed for the cover of Life. They were a different type of star, in terms of interaction with the industry at large, but stars nonetheless — embodiments of what mattered to Americans at various cultural moments. And Redford, I realize now, was proof positive that beautiful American men could still exist amidst the turmoil of the age. Turns out he was a bit of a true liberal, but at the time, he had the looks of a jock, the demeanor of a respectable man, and just enough zest to titillate. I can’t quite decide whether he’s a good actor or a perfect star — which, if you think about it, is true of the most memorable of our idols.

Throughout his career, Redford’s split critics: maybe he could act, but could he act other than himself? And isn’t that the very hallmark of a star? David Thomson called him a waste, while Pauline Kael understood that his golden diffidence was part of his allure, what drew us back to watch him over and over again. He never gave himself over fully the way that his co-stars did — not because he wasn’t acting, but because that was the point. He was, and remains, too cool. Which is part of why his enduring popularity is so surprising — is it his looks that bring us back, again and again? Or is the semi-masochistic desire to watch him maintain that aloofness?

Redford was born in Santa Monica, because of course he was. His father was a milkman but, in a page straight from the American Dream handbook, eventually became an accountant, moving his family to Van Nuys. There, Redford played on the high school baseball team and, if looks are to be believed, slayed the entire female population. A baseball scholarship to the University of Colorado followed, and I can just imagine him skamping all around Boulder, drinking beer and breaking hearts.

I mean, please. But he had better things to do than play beer pong, so he traveled Europe, took painting at Pratt, and eventually got caught up in acting, making his way into the live television scene in New York, which was thriving in the ’50s. At some point between flipflopping his way through Europe and going to Pratt, he married Lola Van Wagenen, whose native Utah he would gradually make his own.

The sidepart, the beautiful sidepart!

Despite his boho attempts, the baseball/jock thing would structure his image moving forward. He guested in everything from Alfred Hitchcock Presents to The Untouchables while also working Broadway, hitting it big with the lead in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park (1963), which ran for an approximate eon.

In his first publicity shot, circa 1962, you can already see the crinkle in his eyes that made him seem more sophisticated, less fratty.

There were bits and pieces in Hollywood — with Sydney Pollack, who’d prove his long-term collaborator, in Warhunt, and playing a bisexual, his only truly risky film role, in Inside Daisy Clover. He won “Best New Star” at the Golden Globes, but at the time, that was (almost) like winning the same award from The People’s Choice Awards — publicity but totally silly. This Property is Condemned was his breakthrough, complete with a serious soon-to-be-all-star line-up. Syndey Pollack directing, Tennesse Williams’ on the source material, a very young Coppola on the screenplay, Natalie Wood as his co-star.

Just sitting around being beautiful people.

Wood is just so good at playing gorgeous poor people — there’s always been a wantonness to her eyes, it’s something to do with the way they do her eyeliner and the way she looks up at people.

You see what I mean?

The film, which focuses on a guy sent down South to administer lay-offs during the Depression, is a mix of Up in the Air and vintage Tennessee Williams, which explains why a weird incestual air imbues the entire production. But Redford establishes the distance and (initial) resistance to feminine wiles that would characterize the rest of his career. He’s lovely to look at, if not always lovely to his romantic interest. But I hope you see that that’s the charm: he’s a dick for the first half, and then he falls for you during the second half. Sure, he’s still a little aloof, but he just said he loved you, even if he was all straight-faced about it. Trust me; just run with it. Think of how beautiful your children will be.

He played second fiddle to Brando in The Chase, a film that strikes me as alternately hysterical and nearly perfect depending on the day. Jane Fonda was in the mix, too, and came back with him for the film adaptation of Barefoot in the Park. This was Fonda at the height of her va-va-voom era, when she was married to French director Roger Vadim and about to do Barbarella and take the world by storm. In Barefoot, she’s all high-waisted pants and long legs, the ’60s version of the manic pixie dream girl flinging herself around New York and upon the very supplicating Redford.

It’s a nice play on Redford’s fledgling image: he plays a reticent yet beautiful young lawyer; Fonda plays his very new wife, who loves to say inappropriate things, drag him to Staten Island for Albanian food, and have a lot of sex. When she realizes he’s kind of a bore, she decides to divorce him, at which point he gets drunk, becomes ridiculous, and proves to her that he can be awesome, too. There’s some weird, regressive rhetoric that runs through the script — Fonda’s mother tells her that a successful marriage is based on “making the husband feel important,” and it’s not a matter for satire. In hindsight, it sticks out as a film that wants to have it both ways: sexually liberated yet ultimately ideologically conservative.

Redford also looks somewhat tired throughout — maybe because, as the script implies but never shows, he’s having sex with Fonda six times a day. He’s stunning but bland, which, of course, is part of the point. But the last 10 minutes, the drunken fool minutes, are so delicious; it’s the dessert that makes him a star, as opposed to a handsome model for JC Penney. But Redford also understood that he had to get away from tightly-laced man-in-the-gray-flannel-suit characters lest the type consume him. He passed on The Graduate and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, opting instead for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

A moustache and cowboy hat covered the good looks and baby face, while a deep tan and some good wrinkles made him look about 10 years older. Now, I’ll say the same thing about this film that I did when I wrote about Newman: Butch Cassidy was counter-culture lite. It was released in 1969, but every time you think of the hippies and San Francisco and lots of sex, remember that the vast majority of America still just wanted to watch a Western with two palatable guys. Kael called it a “glorified vacuum” — a “facetious Western.” She’s totally right, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not still one of the most watchable filmic artifacts of the era. It’s also a prime example of two actors acting out their public images — Newman, as Kael points out, was the “aging good guy,” while Redford was still his removed, sardonic, handsome self, no matter how thick the moustache. It’s another reason the comparison between Cassidy and Ocean’s 11 is apt: both are glossy takes on the caper; both enlist stars to essentially play themselves.

Newman was already a star, oozing with prestige. Yet for Redford, the film’s mind-blowing success not only launched him into bonafide stardom, but marked the beginning of an associative pairing of the two. (Speaking of which — seriously, ladies — WHO is starting the FuckYeahCraggyDudes tumblr?)

Suddenly, Redford could do anything he pleased, free to spend the Hollywood capital that comes with a monster hit. He produced and starred in Downhill Racer (essentially an exercise in looking hot on the ski slopes), first aired his political leanings in the very Kennedy-esque The Candidate, and did some serious beard acting as Bon Iver’s spiritual grandfather in Jeremiah Johnson.

Shearling Coats: Bring Them Back.

My backwoods boyfriend.

No huge hits there, but it didn’t really matter, because suddenly there was The Way We Were — and it was all anyone could talk about. It was like everyone finally recovered after Love Story just in time to ruin themselves again when Barbra sings the theme song. I feel like I was born with this song in my head and I didn’t even see the movie until my late 20s. And Barbra! I didn’t even get Barbra until I saw this film — well, this and Funny Girl. And everyone who’s trying to sell Lea Michele as the new Barbra needs to chill, because obviously it’s not about the singing so much as the persona.

Redford comes into the shop where homely Streisand works, and she’s all, “Look who’s here, America the Beautiful,” and you’re all, YES, TRUER WORDS HAVE NEVER BEEN SAID. But then you get suckerpunched by how effectively this movie convinces you that Redford would fall for Streisand, with all her spunk and unruliness and radicalism. The essential message of this movie is that Hot Guys Like Brains and Sass. The secondary message is that Your Romance Will Then Be Plundered By Asshole Red Mongerers.

Point is, Redford wasn’t just hot. He was a man who recognizes integrity — in Streisand and, by extension, in you. He was, at least in this role, the ’70s version of Feminist Ryan Gosling. And with moustache and mountainman beard gone, it was time for the No. 2 Most Handsome Man to rejoin the No. 1 Most Handsome Man and make another historical movie, this time with more suits.

The Sting is like Butch Cassidy but with more Joplin and nattier outfits. George Roy Hill directs again and Redford and Newman look ridiculously beautiful again (only this time Newman has stolen Redford’s moustache). Predictably, everyone and their grandma went to go see it, but what I love is that it was before the time of sequels — so instead of just rehashing the plot and adding a new villain, they actually had to find a new script, idea, and historical setting. The blockbuster sequel before the blockbuster sequel, and all the better for it.

Plus you got to spend a bunch of time thinking about what the stars were doing behind the scenes: just normal bro-stuff like playing shirt-less pingpong in your cut-offs:

Oooo Robert, you and your aviators, run that game. Run it all the way to Cannes, where you can hang out with Sydney Pollack, presumably wearing one of my collared tees from 1996, and wear your own white velour half-zip:

But then there was the vast disappointment of The Great Gatsby — a film I wanted so badly to be perfect, and I’m sure so many others did as well, even when they weren’t just jonesing for some sort of film adaptation after reading Gatsby in 11th grade and still wondering what the green light REALLY MEANT I mean SERIOUSLY.

But this film offers no answers. It’s a classic case of They Did It All Right: the costumes are right, the casting is seemingly right, the set design is right. Redford, the most golden and All-American of boys, should’ve been right — a product of the American dream itself, a man who left behind his past for a brighter one. And Mia! Sweet, innocent-faced Mia.

Yet there’s a chasmic absence of soul. I realize that the plot is, at least in part, about a chasmic absence of soul, but you need the structure around that chasm to reverberate with life and tension and desire, the way (at least in my unpopular opinion) it does in Luhrmann’s adaptation. Because say what you will about Luhrmann, but his movies wear their hearts on their sleeves.

This Gatsby adaptation was empty, but that doesn’t mean that people didn’t still go see it. There was a compulsion there, in the same way there was with Les Miserables this past Christmas. Meanwhile, Redford’s image only continued to refine itself: after the success of Cassidy, the magazines couldn’t get enough of him. He was on the cover of Life and in a full-page spread, reveling in his Utah-ness:

Snowmobiles, moon boots, vaulted-ceiling wood cabins: give me all of them.

Whether in Seventeen, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Life, or People — you name the popular publication — the message was the same: Redford wasn’t your typical star. He publicly hated publicity. He was “not an actor who acts how he looks,” which is just another way of saying he wasn’t an asshole. He “wasn’t in love with the sound of his own voice,” according to McCall’s, and regularly “ cast members rides in his car.” He didn’t have a suit or a mansion, and he loved his wife and their four kids, whom he called his “best friends.” Robert Redford: He’s Just Like Us! Only with a better highlights and chest hair!

He was all CIA-conspiracy theory in Three Days of the Condor and very serious in All the President’s Men, arguably one of the most important and influential political films of all time. It didn’t hurt that he was just getting more handsome…

…and probably inspired the declaration of at least 100,000 journalism majors. It’s such a snappy, important picture — eminently watchable and built on the charisma of its two leads. Once again, the comparison with Clooney and his ilk is apt: they manage to make the political thriller sexy and electric while still maintaining its integrity. Redford spearheaded the production, adaptation, and editing process — an arduous process that would prepare him for his next natural role: director.

A few forgettable films in the late ’70s may or may not have prompted Redford to finally take matters into his own hands. He read Ordinary People, decided the project was his, bought the rights, shopped the project to Paramount, and promised a shoestring budget. Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, and a veritable watershed of tears followed. Redford won the Oscar for Best Director, the first in a long line of testimonies to the Academy’s love of actors-turned-directors. I really have no comment for this film. It’s fine. It’s the sort of thing the Academy loves one year and forgets about the next, and it’s no Notebook, at least in terms of wringing me dry for tears. Like if you’re going to do the birds flying at sunset over the river, you’ve got to turn that knob to 11.

Directing Mary Tyler Moore on how best to make you cry.

If there’s anything that adds prestige to an actor’s image, it’s directing. (Just ask Ben Affleck.) But it’s even better if you can direct AND be a philanthropist. (Just ask Angelina.) So Redford founded the Sundance Institute in 1981 — it joined the Sundance Film Festival, founded in 1978 — consolidated operations in Park City, and used the hype over Ordinary People to draw attention to his various projects: cultivating fledgling filmmakers, funding underfunded documentaries, and turning Park City into a destination. There were many ins and outs that transformed a relatively tiny foundation into the indie behemoth that was Sundance in the late ’90s, and you can read all about them in Peter Biskind’s salacious and highly readable Down and Dirty Pictures.

Point is, Redford was becoming more than the sum of his cinematic past: more than a movie star, more than a beautiful face. Over the course of the next 20 years, he’d become something just shy of a mogul, at least in terms of perceived power and industrial cache. He wasn’t running a studio, but the most important American film festival — a festival that could make or break an aspiring director’s career — had his name on it. Or, at least, the name of his most famous character.

In the early ’80s, however, Sundance was still somewhat of a clusterfuck — lots of vision, little action. But that’s okay, because all anyone was actually thinking about was how much they wanted to move to Kenya and live in his tent:

I don’t want want to displace Meryl Streep in this movie so much as I want to hang out with both of them — or just watch them be wonderful together.

I guess I’m describing the act of watching any movie, but bygones. I want to watch this movie at all times. I fully realize it’s a commercial for Banana Republic. I fully realize the problematic post-colonial nature. I fully realize that it’s sentimental, but I am so OK with sentiment when it’s this tan and washing hair:

I first saw this film when I was in early high school and totally obsessed with a love that gives and takes — you know, the anguish of liking a guy, he kinda shows that he likes you, he retreats, rinse and repeat. I was also in a deep love affair with the book and movie version of The English Patient (“The heart is an organ of fire” asdf;kjasd;flkjasd;lkfja;sdjlf), so Out of Africa only doubled my obsession with texts centered on strong women and iconoclastic men. Set approximately 80 years ago. In Africa. The love in both of these texts is a very adult sort of love, but the way it makes me feel is pure 16-year-old. Those are the movies you return to again and again, to better remember the curves of rapture.

Out of Africa swept the Oscars, winning nearly everything and getting nominated for everything else. The only person left out was Redford himself. He was, in truth, the foil to Streep’s masterful Karen Blixen, the force that makes her real and alive. Plus he’s essentially playing the safari version of his existing image, and the Academy always prefers an accent or a Method turn to a masterful turn as yourself. The reticence, the side-part, the flat voice, the heartbreak — it’s all there, withdrawn and quietly aching, just like my heart at the end of the movie.

And then, the ’80s and ’90s: more films, more directing. Sundance expanded; Sneakers showed teenage me what a fun caper could do. And A River Runs Through It, holy shit, let’s talk about a movie making you fall in love with landscape: it was shot just over Lolo Pass from my hometown, and no film has done more to make me appreciate where I grew up. The fact that Maclean’s family was Presbyterian like mine only made it resonate more — I almost begged my mother to pull the “write it, now cut it in half” trick that Tom Skerritt pulls on his son. When Tom Skerritt showed up at my office door earlier this semester it wasn’t Top Gun that sprang to mind, but Reverend Maclean.

Brad Pitt playing Paul Maclean is clearly, deliciously, Redford’s aesthetic doppelganger. But it’s the other, more sensible brother — Norman, the author of the book and the voice of the film — who most aligns with Redford’s image. Where Paul is brash and wild, Norman is thoughtful, determined, and responsible. He lacks Paul’s gravitas, but he also lives to tell the elegiac tale of his brother’s self-destruction. He stood in the towering shadow of rebellion, much like Redford had lived through the counter-culture and kept his own centered sense of self.

Sweet dad jeans on the set of River.

Like so much of Redford’s work, A River Runs Through It relies heavily on the magic hour and lens flare, on golden morning light and the way it reacts with the skin and hair of beautiful men and their women. I can’t say it’s high art, but again, like so many of Redford’s films, it’s so watchable I can’t dismiss it. And so the rest of his films seem to go: Indecent Proposal, Up Close and Personal, The Horse Whisperer, Spy Game … genre fare, fairly forgettable. With Redford, it’s not the individual films so much as the overarching impact of his presence. And that’s the mark of an old-fashioned movie star — you don’t remember the plot as much as you remember the feel. The aura of greatness around Redford only continues to grow, and as the star becomes legend, it becomes clear that his death, whenever it comes, will likely beatify him once and for all.

Redford was a bonafide star when they were increasingly hard to find. Not all of his movies are masterpieces; indeed, most are just this side of pablum. But they’re also very good fun — the type of movie you’ll always stop and watch on cable, the type you can rewatch again and again. Don’t mistake me: I love these movies. They’re film at its most broadly entertaining, which is, really, Hollywood’s backbone. Redford unified the country in its affection for him when it couldn’t agree on anything else, all the more surprising given the gradual revelation of his leftist leanings. He’s the last of a fading breed of star, a reminder that even amidst the aesthetic and narrative revolution of the so-called “silver age,” the electric dynamism of Coppola and Scorsese and Penn and Malick, American golden boys were still making middlebrow films. Easy Rider made a lot of money in 1969, but Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid made far more.

In the ’70s, Ladies Home Journal called Redford a “nice, normal married sex symbol” — a striking contrast to the likes of Warren Beatty, who was busy getting in the pants of thousands of women. Redford was safe sex: always decent, never dangerous. You might say the same of Newman, but he always had a slight edge to his roles. He’s played the villain, the asshole, the drunk, and the memory of those performances inflects his face and our understanding of him with something Redford will always lack.

Redford still does it for me. But sometimes I wonder if he does it for the easiest part of myself.

Previously: The Many Faces of Barbara Stanwyck

Anne Helen Petersen is a Doctor of Celebrity Gossip. No, really. You can find evidence (and other writings) here.

Meryl Streep at 68: The love that changed her life

From Sophie’s Choice to The Iron Lady, Meryl Streep has enthralled us for 40 years in many roles. For nearly all that time Meryl has been happily married to just one man – a rarity for the film world.

Meryl Streep’s husband Don Gummer

Her husband, Don, is a successful sculptor who isn’t part of the showbiz world, but he is ‘the linchpin’ of her life and she says: “Our marriage and our children and their wellbeing inform all the decisions we make.”

How did Meryl Streep meet Don Gummer?

Yet the only reason they met was because he lent her his apartment in 1978 when her life had fallen apart…

Meryl Streep and John Cazale’s relationship

In 1976, just as Meryl was beginning to be successful, she met John Cazale when they both appeared in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. He had played Fredo Corleone in the first two Godfather films and was already recognised for the intensity of his acting. Meryl and John fell head over heels in love and moved in together. John told her that when he got his first big break they would marry.

To their delight, they were both cast in major roles in the film, The Deer Hunter but, shockingly, by the time it came to be made, John was found to have terminal bone cancer. His condition was so serious that he was uninsurable and it was only the insistence of the director and a threat by Meryl to leave the film that stopped the producers firing him. Instead, filming was rearranged so all John’s scenes were shot first, while he was still well enough.

Throughout, Meryl was by his side. “I’ve hardly ever seen a person so devoted to someone who is falling away like John was,” said co-star Robert de Niro, “To see her in that act of love for this man was overwhelming.”

When the film ended she moved into the hospital with him. He didn’t survive long enough to attend the premiere of the film and died in March 1978, aged 42.

Meryl couldn’t bear to stay in the apartment they had shared. That is when a friend of her brother’s, Don Gummer, offered her his place as a refuge while he was away travelling. He has since said: “Meryl was shattered by John Cazale’s death and I did what I could to help and pretty quickly I realised I was falling in love with her.”

Meryl Streep’s marriage

To the surprise of some, in September of that same year, Don and Meryl married. She admitted: “I haven’t got over John’s death, but I’ve got to go on living and Don has showed me how to do that.” Their long and happy marriage, they celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary, this year, proves how right those instincts were.

But perhaps she still carries her first love with her in the commitment she has brought to every role she plays? John Cazale was admired for his ability to inhabit a role. And that is what she does, too. By her devotion to her acting she honours his memory and that of a remarkable career cut tragically short.

Did you know, In 1965, aged 16, Meryl Streep saw The Beatles at New York’s Shea Stadium and had a banner with ‘I love Paul’ on it

When she played Lindy Chamberlain in A Cry in the Dark (about the dingo baby case) she visited Lindy in prison to understand her character better.

While filming Out of Africa, there was a long take where she had to be calm and dignified as she met a line of servants in the intense heat. She filmed it perfectly, but as soon as it was over tore off her dress to reveal an enormous insect that had been crawling around inside.

Cher, with whom Meryl co-starred in Silkwood, said: “She is an acting machine in the same sense that a shark is a killing machine. That’s what she was born to be.” But what Cher also discovered, to her surprise, was the less well-known Meryl who is a mum and loves to cook, and look after her house.

“We’d knit, crochet and talk about our kids so much I thought something was wrong with us, that we didn’t have an existence outside of them. Then I realised we were just two proud mothers.”

Meryl Streep’s family life

And that’s the side Meryl shares with Don. They live ‘as far away from Hollywood as possible’ in Connecticut. While they live in some style (their property has a 47-acre lake!) they share a down-to-earth attitude to their home and family.

Meryl has said the secret of a happy marriage is ‘goodwill and a willingness to bend – and to shut up every once in a while’.

The actress who endeared herself to us over-50s when she went up to get her 2012 Golden Globe award and exclaimed: “Oh I’m going to have to remember my speech, I forgot my glasses!” isn’t afraid to be herself.

And life, sometimes cruelly, has taught her what really matters. She said after John Cazale’s death: “I learned what really is important. I found what is true and what’s not worth pursuing.”

Meryl Streep and Don Gummer at the Oscars

There’s no doubting that Don is a supportive husband – he’s been Meryl’s faithful plus one to the Oscars throughout their 40 year relationship. To mark the four decades of red carpet appearances – often patiently waiting while reporters talk to his famous spouse – the couple’s daughter Louisa Gummer tweeted during the 90th Oscars ceremony that she and her siblings gave him his very own Oscar for accompanying their mother so faithfully!

She said: ‘Fun fact: we once made my dad a fake Oscar for acting comfortable at these things for 40 years straight’.

Things you might not know about Meryl…

How old is Meryl Streep?

Meryl was born on June 22 1949 and is currently 68.

Meryl Streep’s children

She and Don Gummer have four children: Henry, Mamie, Grace and Louisa. Her two eldest daughters, Mamie and Grace followed in her footsteps as actresses, while Louisa is a model. Her son, Henry, is a musician.

Meryl Streep’s first movie

Her first movie was a cameo opposite Jane Fonda in Julia. She later said of the experience: “I had a bad wig and they took the words from the scene I shot with Jane and put them in my mouth in a different scene. I thought, I’ve made a terrible mistake, no more movies. I hate this business.”

Meryl Streep’s early movies

But despite that difficult start, she went on to make The Deer Hunter, Holocaust and The Seduction of Joe Tynan, before hitting the big time with her role in Kramer V Kramer.

What films has Meryl Streep been in?

Meryl’s back catalogue is a whopper, but she’s best known for Sophie’s Choice, Kramer V Kramer, The Iron Lady, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Ironweed, Postcards from the Edge, The Bridges of Madison County, One True Thing, The Devil Wears Prada, Julie and Julia, Into the Woods and Florence Foster Jenkins.

Meryl Streep’s Oscars

She left her first Oscar, for Best Supporting Actress in Kramer v Kramer in 1979, on top of the toilet!. She has been nominated 18 times for an Oscar which prompted her to say in her 2012 acceptance speech for The Iron Lady, people were saying, ‘Oh no, come on, why her again?’

Meryl and Bette Davis

Hollywood legend Bette Davis said that Meryl was her true acting successor.

Meryl Streep and Robert Redford

For a time, an unfounded rumour that Meryl and Robert Redford were a couple circulated – even suggesting they might get married! But there doesn’t seem to be any truth behind this whatsoever.

Sesame Street and Meryl Streep

Sesame Streep – sorry, Street – created ‘Meryl Sheep’ in her honour. A truly baa-lmy idea!

Katherine Hepburn and Meryl Streep’s rivalry

Katharine Hepburn wasn’t a fan, though, and suggested she had a mechanical acting style: “You can see the wheels go click, click, click in her head.” In 1981, Katharine beat Meryl to win the Oscar for Best Actress.

Watch the trailer for Florence Foster Jenkins

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The deliciously candid Meryl Streep

“IT’S FINE” to be put on a pedestal, she says. ruben nepales

LOS ANGELES—Meryl Streep’s cell phone rang in the middle of our recent interview at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. Yes, the greatest living film actress is a human being rather like the rest of us, with a cell phone that rings at the most inopportune moments.

“Sorry, that’s one of my kids,” Meryl said with a laugh as she searched for the ringing phone in her purse. “I just know the ring. I’m going to turn it off. Sorry.”

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The moment reminded us of an interview in New York several years ago, when the candid actress admitted that even while she was answering a question, she was thinking about what to cook for the family dinner that evening. We also recalled a time when Meryl kept pouting playfully because it was her wedding anniversary and her husband, sculptor Donald Gummer, wasn’t around.

Hearty laughter

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These displays of vulnerability and artistic bravado make each conversation with the three-time Academy winner memorable. This time around, Meryl—wearing glasses, a long-sleeved white blouse, pants and a necklace accented with pearls—laughed heartily when told about our recent interview with her son-in-law, Benjamin Walker (married to Mamie Gummer, her eldest daughter). Benjamin said, “The only thing more intimidating than an international film star like Meryl Streep is your mother-in-law.”

“That’s a very good line,” she remarked with an infectious smile. We asked if Benjamin, a stage and film actor (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) who does stand-up comedy on the side, tries his comic shtick around her and the family. “He does stand up in front of me all the time,” she replied. “He’s very funny and extremely charming. He’s really a good man and that’s all I really wanted for Mamie.”

When the son-in-law invites Meryl to the premiere of, say, “…Vampire Hunter,” does she get to go? “Oh, I am not able to do anything,” she replied, with emphasis on the “Oh.” One of the pleasures of talking to the acting goddess is hearing these vocal inflections and seeing the hand gestures and other body movements, usually magnified on the big screen, in person.

“It’s really hard,” she declared. “Everybody went to Benjamin Walker’s movie opening and I missed it because I was on stage being Juliet on ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that night. It was the 50th anniversary of the Delacorte Theater, which offers free Shakespeare productions in Central Park. I did a reading with Kevin Kline.” She mused, “In a crowded life, there’s a lot of different directions to be pulled.”

But do Meryl’s two daughters, who are actresses too—Mamie and Grace Jane Gummer—still expect her to attend their premieres and opening nights? “They do expect you to be at their opening!” she exclaimed with mock exaggeration. “Yes, they do! And the Public Theater sells $50,000 tables to their opening. And they expect you to be there. It is not easy.”

Passage of time

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Asked what was it like to be Meryl Streep and put on a pedestal, she quipped, “It’s fine.”

At 63, Meryl has been acting professionally for over 40 years, having made her New York stage debut in 1971. She acknowledged the transitions in a career that has spanned four decades. “As I lose friends, you can’t help but mark the passage of time and understand that things are changing,” she said, hands on her chest. “You have a deeper appreciation of the finite number of years you have. You want to say something important in that time. You want to make it count. You want to help. You want to make people happy. You want to be there for all of it so I’m very grateful.”

She continued, “Somebody said to me that the secret to life is enjoying the passage of time.” Here, Meryl broke into a chuckle. “It’s actually a song there, right? That’s where I am—being aware of how lucky we all are to be living right now, to be here, to be doing what we do, to be engaged in something we love doing, which is making movies. I really love doing it. The opportunities that they’ve kept coming is a miracle to me. It’s different now than it’s been in the history of movies. Women my age used to have one foot in the old-age home, so that change is remarkable.”

Meryl, who made her feature film debut in Fred Zinnemann’s “Julia,” also noted strides in filmmaking. “Oh, what a different time it was when I began. Film was shot on film,” she said with a touch of irony in her voice. “There was no video monitor. The director had to watch a take and use his own judgment as to whether it was good or not.”

She rued that, nowadays, everyone has a camera phone at the ready. “We can’t have an encounter if we don’t record every second of it in photographs,” she said with a sigh. “We don’t believe it’s happening. I go to plays and movies, and people are holding up their iPhones. It’s amazing. It’s a different time.”

Meryl is grateful for her stage training. She explained: “I’m glad I had that experience because it made me have an imagination about myself and the possibilities of who I could become and embody, that was broader than if I was a young actress who came up just through television and film. Now, reality TV is sort of the benchmark of everything so it’s a very different time. I’m glad that I had emotional and imaginative conservatory early on.”

Meryl, of course, believes in the transformative power of films, “even the ones you resist and say, ‘I didn’t really like that movie.’” Laughing again, she pointed out, “Sometimes, they reside with you and they have the power to change you. It’s really weird. The movies you like, you forget. The ones that irritate you or hit a nerve, they stay with you.”

‘Hope Springs’

She volunteered that her new movie with Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell, “Hope Springs,” a comedy written by Vanessa Taylor and directed by David Frankel, was made to entertain moviegoers. “This movie is not, as Tommy says, trying to engineer social change,” she said. “This is to entertain. Maybe you attach more to a film if you relate to it.”

Meryl and Tommy play a couple, Kay and Arnold, whose marriage has lost its spark after more than 30 years. Kay persuades Arnold to attend a retreat led by a renowned marriage

“HOPE Springs” is just out to entertain, says the greatest living film actress.

therapist, Dr. Bernard Feld (played by Steve Carell).

Asked to comment on something that Tommy told us earlier—that he had accepted the film because of one name, Meryl Streep—the owner of the name said with delicious emphasis, “He’s lying!” Then, with a winning grin, she related: “He read the script and knew that this was a great part for him. He’s so graceful in this part. In a way, it’s Arnold’s film because he’s the one who makes a big change. She instigates it and she animates it with her love for him. But he’s the one who takes the trip, the journey.”

She conceded, “Tommy was a delight. I’ve wanted to work with him for 30 years since we worked at the Public Theater. He was in a Sam Shepard play. God, that was 35 years ago! He’s an incredible actor. I really mean it.”

We asked why she thought passion and sexuality, which “Hope Springs” explores in the context of its presence or absence in a long-term marriage, continue to be subjects that are not so openly discussed. Meryl commented, “That has something to do with our vulnerability in talking about sex. We’re talking about our most vulnerable self, our needs, insecurities and nakedness, literally. But we’re also talking about our emotional needs, what we yearn for and what we never stop hoping for. That’s what motivates Kay, a very quiet, reserved person who breaks out of that in order to take a big, brave step in her marriage. It’s something that people can relate to.”

Of her husband’s reaction to the film, Meryl said, “He thought it was funny. He’s a man of few words but he laughed.”

In “Hope Springs,” Meryl speaks in a light tone, the opposite of her much deeper voice in “The Iron Lady.” She explained, “Margaret Thatcher has a very distinctive voice. I had to make mine more like hers. That was a big leap. I’m always shocked when I hear my voice because it sounds like a 10-year-old boy. I’m always surprised that it doesn’t have more resonance.”

Meryl cleared her throat and, in a display of her chameleon-like ability to transform herself, began speaking in a voice that clearly had, well, powerful resonance: “It should have resonance.” Then she switched back to her real speaking voice, not really akin to a pre-pubescent boy’s but a mellifluous one that’s calming to hear. “I like to speak like that (deeper) but I normally talk more like Kay,” she added, laughing.”

Proud mom

Asked if she was surprised at how good Mamie had been in the pilot episode of “Emily Owens, M.D.,” the proud mom quickly answered, “Oh, I was not surprised at all. I’m really proud of her. I hope does well. I hope audiences like it. I love that it’s for CW and that it’s an antidote to some of the dicier things for young girls that are out there. It has real value in terms of expressing a seemingly accomplished young woman’s insecurities and voicing all the things that we’re not sure of, even when we’re grownups and well on our way to being important.”

Of the reviews that praised Mamie in a 2009 off-Broadway revival of “Uncle Vanya,” Meryl said, “She was really the best Sonya I had ever seen. She was fantastic. She was with Austin Pendleton, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, so that was something that asked more of an actor than most television shows do. I am not kidding and I’m very harsh in my assessments, even of my own children.”

Health-wise, the world’s most acclaimed sexagenarian claimed, “It’s pretty good except for the knees. So far, so good.” She knocked under the table. “It’s great.”

With virtually all acting awards under her belt, what does Meryl look forward to? “Grandchildren,” came the swift reply. “Yes, I’m waiting. Nothing’s happening.”

Anything else? “I look forward to getting home tomorrow and swimming,” the actress said simply, but with the smile that we hope will continue to light up cinema for many more years to come.

(Email the columnist at Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.)

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Out of Africa

Out of Africa, American-British film, released in 1985, that was based on events in the life of Karen Blixen-Finecke, who wrote under the name Isak Dinesen. It starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and was known for its beautiful cinematography. The movie won seven Academy Awards, including that for best picture.

Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in Out of AfricaRobert Redford and Meryl Streep in Out of Africa (1985).Universal Pictures Company, Inc.

The events of the movie take place between 1913 and 1931. It begins in Denmark, where Karen (played by Streep) proposes a marriage of convenience to her friend (and cousin) Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke (Klaus Maria Brandauer). Planning to run a dairy farm in Africa, they travel to British East Africa and subsequently marry. The couple later goes to the farm, which is near Nairobi, and Bror informs her that he has decided to operate a coffee farm. More interested in hunting, he largely leaves Karen to manage the venture on her own. As she explores the area, she comes face-to-face with a lioness, but the big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton (Redford) and his friend Berkeley (Michael Kitchen) arrive in time to save her. Later, on the farm, she attends to the medical needs of the Kikuyu people who live in the area.

World War I breaks out, and Bror is sent to the front. When an army messenger tells Karen that she is to send supplies to the front, she decides to bring the items herself. She encounters Denys and Berkeley on her journey, and Denys gives her a compass. She braves many hazards but succeeds in getting the supply train to the front, where she reunites with Bror. Upon her return to the farm, however, Karen discovers that she has contracted syphilis from the philandering Bror. After receiving treatment in Denmark, Karen returns to the farm and ends her relationship with Bror. During this time she also builds a school for the Kikuyu. One day Denys takes her on a safari, during which they begin a romance, and he eventually moves into Karen’s home. All is not idyllic, however, as Berkeley dies from a form of malaria, and Karen struggles to keep the coffee farm financially afloat. Denys’s inability to fully commit to Karen leads her to break off the relationship. Shortly thereafter, her barn burns down, and Karen decides to return to Denmark. She sells off her possessions and begs the colonial authority to allow the Kikuyu workers to continue to live on the farm. She and Denys have a final dinner together, but Denys later crashes his biplane and is killed. Before leaving for home, Karen gives Denys’s compass to her foreman, Farah (Malick Bowens).

Most of Out of Africa was shot on location in Kenya, near the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi. Orson Welles, David Lean, and Nicolas Roeg considered turning Dinesen’s book Out of Africa (1937) into a film before director Sydney Pollack succeeded, using a screenplay by Karl Luedtke that drew on more recent biographies of both Dinesen and Finch Hatton as well as on Dinesen’s writings.

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