Meryl Streep Acknowledges Hollywood's Beauty Standards, Then Crushes Them
She may have been nominated for an Oscar for playing fashion queen Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, but in real life, Meryl Streep is hardly a clotheshorse. In fact, Streep seems generally baffled by the mass industry that surrounds the modern celebrity. She talked about her experience with Hollywood beauty standards in a recently-unearthed 2008 interview with former Entertainment Weekly reporter Christine Spine. It's an interview that paints an interesting picture of what we make our movie stars be in order to be considered successful — even if they don't necessarily fit the mold.
The interview, which was animated for PBS' Blank On Blank, flows like the kind of off-the-cuff conversation many of us have daydreamed of having with Streep. She talks about being on the "Worst Dressed" blacklists every year, and about the bumpy road from her formal acting education to the real world of working in Hollywood.
The career I chose was a drama major in college. At Yale, when I, you know, played a 90 year old woman — one of my more celebrated roles. Then I played a really fat person, you know, I played a lot of different things, and I loved to wrangle my talent, my need to express myself. I liked to do it that way. I never thought I was somebody who would be on the cover of magazine in fashion wearing fashions! It's not me. That is what movie stardom entails.
She also talks about the early days, relating one anecdote in which she went out for what would become Jessica Lange's part in King Kong. She'd dressed up and tried to look nice, but when she got in the room, Dino De Laurentiis turned to his son and said in Italian, "Why do you send me these pigs? They're so ugly. Brutta!" Streep, who speaks Italian (of course she does!), responded in his own language with a "Sorry to disappoint you" and a departure from the meeting.
Being an actress in Hollywood has to be a pretty relentlessly ego-crushing job, so let us all be grateful for Meryl Streep in her matching relentlessness. There's something refreshing every time Streep doesn't give a shit. She demands to live in a world where her performance is more important than "who" she's wearing on the red carpet, and that's pretty damn cool.