Never miss an interview with our app
Download the free app
Continue to the website

Meryl Streep: “I'm not always happy”

TimekeeperRolex values your time and
knows how precious it is.
Read LaterSave this interview to read laterRead LaterSave this interview to read later
 Listen to Audio Excerpt Listen to Audio Excerpt
Meryl Streep
Photo by Lichfield/Getty Images
Short Profile

Name: Mary Louise Streep
DOB: 22 June 1949
Place of Birth: Summit, New Jersey, USA
Occupation: Actress

Mrs. Streep, do you like to cook at home?

Some nights I like it, some nights I don’t. I’ve started meals and then just said, “Oh God!” and thrown it in the sink. I have done that and said, “We’re getting pizza, that’s it.” And then I’ll go lie down in my room in a funk. When my children were very young and I was working I had someone cooking for me. I don’t have a cook now, I haven’t had one for a number of years and I do it myself. But when they were all little it was hard to pay attention to everyone’s homework at the end of the day and make dinner.

So what is your specialty today?

Lately I’ve been making a lot of pasta. It’s easy. There are unusual tastes that you can combine. I cook because my kids like a certain kind of thing and then they want it over and over. My daughter now likes pasta with cauliflower, fresh parsley, tarragon, and ricotta salata. So you boil the cauliflower and then you put the pasta in the cauliflower water, so you cook it until the flavor goes through. Then you just toss all the other things fresh.

How do you combine a very consuming career and motherhood?

Well, the first thing is a great husband. That I found many years ago and I am lucky in that way. And then you have to have a lot of stamina. And you have to have very good organizational skills. I feel like I run a business although I haven't one. It’s planning, planning, and planning.

How do you feel about your children going into acting as well?

I am proud that my daughters want to do this. But I am also frightened for them, too. Because when criticism comes your way as an actor they are not criticizing your writing or your painting or your piece, they are criticizing you! It is hard to put that away in a place where you are not hurt by it and that is my fear for them. But I would never say don't do it, because I think it is a glorious profession and I am so thankful for everything it has let me express.

“I would like Martin Scorsese to be interested in a female character once in a while, but I don't know if I’ll live that long.”

My impression is that you always seem to be quite happy. Is that really the case or is that your public persona?

I am not always happy. I am happy in front of the press. I can be extremely grumpy, ask my husband. (Laughs)

What makes you happy?

Everything that truly makes us happy is quite simple: love, sex, and food! Everything else - power, influence, strength - all those things can overpower what's important in life. But as long as you have food and shelter over your head, if the necessities are taken care of, what makes us happy on top of that is very simple.

That point of view is often connected to the way people were brought up. Are you much like your own mother?

My mother was someone that walked into a room and lit it up. She made friends easily and she communicated her enthusiasms with great joy. I always wanted to be more like my mother than I am. I loved and admired her very deeply. She chose to see the best parts of life and didn’t choose to look at what's wrong and what's holding her back or anything negative.

Have you ever envied anybody in your life?

Oh, yeah. I mean, yeah! I envied Jessica Lange when she got Sweet Dreams. That was such a great movie; she was beyond wonderful in it. I wished for things that I haven't had, but I have to say my blessings are pretty great, so I have no complaints.

Sophia Loren once said she hates you because you stole her part in The Bridges of Madison County with your acting skills.

Well, I don't think Sophia hates me because I just met her for the first time in my life at the last Academy Awards and she gave me the most wonderful embrace and she made me very happy. I am such a fan of hers and a great admirer of hers and always have been and so is my husband. He has never recovered from that moment where she came out of the sea. (Laughs)

“You can't do your job and be afraid.”

Do you like your image as the “go-to” actress for serious dramas?

I’ve always done all sorts of things all along the way. Whatever film you first appear in, however people first perceive you, it’s like the first impression coming in the door and that’s the thing you are associated with. The first few things that I was in were dramas, but in drama school I was never in a serious or realistic play. No, there was just one. I was in The Father and I played the young daughter. Everything else were comedies for three years. But that was the time.

You have worked with Hollywood's elite. Who was your favorite director?

I don't have a favorite director just like I don't have a favorite color or I don't have a favorite food. I like everything. There have been directors that I did not enjoy working with, but for the most part I realize that I have been unbelievably spoiled in my career because I have worked with some of the greatest, greatest directors ever.

Is there anybody you never had the chance to work with but still would love to?

Yes, I would like Martin Scorsese to be interested in a female character once in a while, but I don't know if I’ll live that long. There are also a lot of wonderful directors that I would love to work with again. I love Spike Jonze. I loved working with Wes Anderson, but I was a fox, so I would like to work with him as a human some time.

Are you, the great Meryl Streep, ever afraid of roles?

You can't do your job and be afraid. You can be afraid in a press conference, nervous, sweaty, but you can't be afraid when you do your work because it doesn't work that way.

So you never get nervous anymore?

I get nervous the more time I have to think about something so I deliberately don't give myself too much time between jobs. I take a big break and then I start working again usually.