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Metro Canada: The Meryl Streep I know: Overrated? I think not

By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Overrated is the last word I would use to describe Meryl Streep as an actress or interview subject. Like everybody else I’ve admired her work from the early fresh-faced roles in films like Manhattan to the emotional catharsis of Kramer vs. Kramer, through her accent phase and beyond.

I’ve also interviewed her several times. In our conversations, as in her controversial speech at the Golden Globes, she’s always been forthright, fearless and nothing less than gracious.

Our first chat was eleven years ago at the A Prairie Home Companion television junket in Minnesota. I’ve done dozens, probably hundreds of these things and the only thing they have in common is the amount of time wasted sitting in hotel hallways, cooling heels until the stars are ready to speak. Experience taught me to always bring a book, the thicker the better, to pass the time.

I read until it was time to talk with Streep. With a list of questions and my book I sat opposite her under hot TV lights and the unblinking gaze of the cameras, familiar but formal territory. Then she did remarkable. Before my first question she asked me one.

“What book are you reading?” No actor had ever asked me about my ever-present book. She then asked me what I liked about it. As we chatted amiably I realized I was being seduced by the Streep charm.

She was working her magic, doing what she does in her work; taking our time beyond the professional and into the personal. She took a moment to make a connection with me before we got down to the task at hand. That bond to her audience and her characters is what makes her great, not just as an actress or speechmaker but also as a person.

Overrated? I think not.

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