Widely referred to as “the greatest film actress of all time,” a mantle Meryl Streep carries with a healthy dose of scepticism (which is partly why we love her), this three-time Academy award winner has revelled in living an authentic life away from Hollywood.
Raising four children with her husband of 43 years, sculptor Don Gummer, at age 73, she has retained a common sense approach to career and motherhood.
Ever self-deprecating, she may profess that ageing hasn’t necessarily come with pearls of wisdom, though there’s no denying that Streep has certainly gleaned some life lessons.
She candidly offers up some invaluable insights on a few universally confounding subjects.
1. On beauty
“Sometimes women get mixed up and think that if they’re more beautiful they’ll be more loved; if they look better on the outside, that’s what will make them important or loveable.
“The idea that their beauty will give them meaning in the world is wrong.”
2. On regrets
“The only thing I have remorse about is that I wasted a lot of time dieting. I’ve wasted a lot of time on that and I regret it.
“I was stupid thinking so much about it, obsessing over it, but actresses do that. But nowadays, oh, I’m over it. I was over it maybe 20 years ago, probably more like 25 years ago.”
3. On ageing
“I don’t feel any different than I did when I was seven years old, but I know when I get up out of a chair quickly, I feel it.
“But I don’t think my attitude about love has changed when it comes to getting older. I still know I need it and want to give it.”
4. On motherhood
“I tend to be supervisory in everything I do. I was more the bad cop and more worried about the kids while my husband was more laissez-faire.
“I always think when you hear from your kids, ‘Everybody else is allowed to, why can’t I?’ as a mother, you say to them, ‘I don’t care that everybody else is doing it.’ I also remember saying those words to my mother when I was a kid and her saying the same thing back to me.
“These things carry on – the mothers are the task masters. At times, I have to admit, I did think about locking up my daughters.”
5. On sexism
“I’ve been surfing a wave of good fortune that came about at a certain time in our business. When I began, there were very few women in the executive offices of any studio, there were no women on the crews and a lot of the press corps were men.
“I’ve been on the crest of that change and I think I’ve benefited from it. I’m certainly aware that my experience has shifted it for others and other young women, younger than I, who would have been finished at 50 and who are still big, big, big stars.
“All these wonderful, wonderful actresses like Sandra Bullock still have their careers. Whereas I remember Bette Davis said when she was 41 years old, ‘Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride’ – it was because her life was in that story of All About Eve and (being a woman in her 40s) is what finished her career for all intents and purposes.”