It’s been 70 years for the Hollywood staple.
In 1949 in the city of Summit, New Jersey, a legend was born. Originally named Mary Louise Streep (and eventually going by Meryl), she’s gone on to star in numerous movie hits and become a household name. Her birthday was just a few weeks ago — Meryl Streep turned 70 years old.
Beginning with voice lessons at age 12, Streep went on through high school and college with the intent of being on stage. At first she leaned more toward opera, but near the end of her collegiate tenure at Vassar College she took more of an interest in acting. After graduating, Streep enrolled in the Yale School of Drama.
After all that schooling, Streep debuted on Broadway when she was 26 in a play called Trelawny of the ‘Wells.’ Two years later she found herself in film in the movie Julia (1977). But it wasn’t until one year after that that Streep began to become recognized, earning an Oscar nomination for her role in the film The Deer Hunter (1978).
With her new-found success, Streep went on to star in many signature films, including Sophie’s Choice (1985; for which she won an Academy Award), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and Mamma Mia! (2008).
Most recently, Streep has been in movies such as The Iron Lady (2011), The Post (2018) and she reprised her role in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018). Currently, Streep has joined the cast of the HBO series Big Little Lies, which is in its second season.
Throughout her acting career, Streep has built up a tremendous list of starring roles, awards and nominations, including a record 23 Academy Award nominations. Along with those she was also given a Golden Globe (specifically the Cecil B. DeMille) for lifetime achievement.
Aside from her acting career, Streep has been married to sculptor Don Gummer for nearly 41 years. She also has four children, each of which has gone on to make a name for themselves in the entertainment industry.
Over the years Streep has accomplished quite a lot and has had one of the greatest acting careers ever. With those achievements also comes speeches, interviews and a bunch of other public appearances, so Streep has had plenty of quotable moments. Here are some of them.
1. You gotta start somewhere.
“Let’s face it, we were all once 3-year-olds who stood in the middle of the living room and everybody thought we were so adorable. Only some of us grow up and get paid for it.” — Meryl Streep
2. Believe in yourself.
“[Accepting an Emmy Award for Angels in America (2003)] You know, there are some days when I myself think I’m overrated, but not today.” — Meryl Streep
3. How to be the queen.
“It’s a lesson I learned in drama school: the teacher asks, how do you be the queen? And everybody says, ‘Oh it’s about posture and authority.’ And they said, no, it’s about how the air in the room shifts when you walk in. And that’s everyone else’s work.” — Meryl Streep
4. Even Streep can joke about herself.
“[On winning a Golden Globe Award for Adaptation (2002)]. I’ve been nominated 789 times and I was getting settled over there for a long winter’s nap… I didn’t have anything prepared because it’s been since the Pleistocene Era that I won anything.” — Meryl Streep
5. Don’t get spoiled.
“I try to lead as ordinary a life as I can. You can’t get spoiled if you do your own ironing.” — Meryl Streep
6. Always be listening.
“Listening is everything. Listening is the whole deal. That’s what I think. And I mean that in terms of before you work, after you work, in between work, with your children, with your husband, with your friends, with your mother, with your father. It’s everything. And it’s where you learn everything.” — Meryl Streep
7. On long marriage:
“If you’ve been married for a long time, you love without looking.” — Meryl Streep
8. On portraying Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady:
“The prospect of exploring the swathe cut through history by this remarkable woman is a daunting and exciting challenge. I am trying to approach the role with as much zeal, fervor and attention to detail as the real Lady Thatcher possesses – I can only hope my stamina will begin to approach her own.” — Meryl Streep
9. On career choices:
What affects your career choices are the three interesting scripts you get in a year, two of which you’re wrong for, one you think you might want to do if you’re real lucky. You can’t possibly plot what’s going to be available, what’s going to be written, who’s going to think of it, and if it will come to you or not.” — Meryl Streep
10. The keys to acting.
“One of the most important keys to acting is curiosity.” — Meryl Streep
11. How to be happy.
“The formula of happiness and success is just being actually yourself, in the most vivid possible way you can.” — Meryl Streep
12. Never give up.
“Don’t give up or give in in the face of patronizing ridicule, amused disdain, or being ignored.” — Meryl Streep
13. Succeeding as a female.
“What does it take to be the first female anything? It takes grit, and it takes grace.” — Meryl Streep
14. You can never succeed if you don’t start.
“You just have to keep on doing what you do. It’s the lesson I get from my husband; he just says, Keep going. Start by starting.” — Meryl Streep
15. Feel alive.
“I want to feel my life while I’m in it.” — Meryl Streep
16. Always try something you think you can’t do.
“It’s a good thing to imagine yourself doing something you think you can’t. I do that every day because, basically, if I had it my way, I’d just stay home and think about what I’m having for supper.” — Meryl Streep
17. Life has been good for Streep.
“I have a very good life – I’m lucky enough not to be deprived.” — Meryl Streep
18. Work with belief and passion.
“Integrate what you believe in every single area of your life. Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else, too.” — Meryl Streep
19. Embrace your humanity.
“You can’t suppress the things that make us human. It’s pointless to try.” — Meryl Streep
20. Life is a circle.
“We are who we’re going to be when we’re very old, and when we’re very old we are who we were when we were 8.” — Meryl Streep
21. What we say and do matters.
“Everything we say signifies; everything counts that we put out into the world. It impacts on kids, it impacts on the zeitgeist of the time.” — Meryl Streep
22. The shower is the stage for everyone.
“I think we all think we sound really good in the shower, where there’s that nice reverb, and the water’s drowning you out, and there is some liberation in the freedom of being totally alone and really going for it.” — Meryl Streep
23. On work and love:
“I have a holistic need to work and to have huge ties of love in my life. I can’t imagine eschewing one for the other.” — Meryl Streep
24. Ever the perfectionist.
“If I am not confident that I can portray the character perfectly on screen, I won’t even try.” — Meryl Streep
25. It’s for her kids.
“Every single decision I make about what material I do, what I’m putting out in the world, is because of my children.” — Meryl Streep
26. Keeping things simple.
“I am a humanist. I am for nice, easy balance.” — Meryl Streep
27. It all depends on your point of view.
“Some people are filled by compassion and a desire to do good, and some simply don’t think anything’s going to make a difference.” — Meryl Streep
28. She’s just like us.
“I’m all over the place.” — Meryl Streep
29. Time can show us who we are.
“I think your self emerges more clearly over time.” — Meryl Streep
30. Keep your fears to yourself.
“My feeling about fears is, if you voice your fears, they may come true. I’m superstitious enough to believe that.” — Meryl Streep
31. People get influenced in a bad way.
“It’s amazing how easily people are led to fury and chaos.” — Meryl Streep
32. On not doing certain things:
“I can’t do a lot of things, like golf. I don’t like golf. I mean, I really don’t, because I tend to like things that I can do right away. If I can’t do it right away, I don’t like it.” — Meryl Streep
33. Actions speak louder than words.
“I let the actions of my life stand for what I am as a human being. Contend with that, not the words.” — Meryl Streep
34. An actor’s roles tells the story.
“The progression of roles you take strings together a portrait of an actor, but it’s a completely random process.” — Meryl Streep
35. Meryl Streep.
“The work will stand, no matter what.” — Meryl Streep