Saturday, June 22, 2024

Streep turns 75

Happy birthday, Meryl! Quite a milestone, as today she turns 75. I'm not going to do some major retrospective on her career, but suffice it to say that if she never worked another day in her life, hers would still go down as the most illustrious career a screen actor can achieve. I measure that by the quality and breadth of her performances. The spectrum of characters she has inhabited over the past fifty or so years is truly staggering, and the performances will live on regardless of any new project she chooses to pursue. 

To this last point, I'm not alone among Streepers in having bemoaned the paucity of new projects in the past two to three years. She's in the longest Oscar nomination drought of her career (last was for 2017's The Post), and we have no new film roles announced. Nothing at all announced, in fact. It's interesting to consider, however, that in that time, she had early buzz for supporting roles in both 2019's The Laundromat and 2021's Don't Look Up, both of which I consider great performances worthy of, if not more worthy than some of her other performances, of nomination consideration. It just didn't come together in those respective years and for those respective movies. But imagine if she had gotten in for either of those, our perspective of her sort this recent "quiet" period would likely be much different, with potentially only five or three years since her last nomination. Food for thought. 

I continue to remind myself that Meryl historically takes breaks. There are fewer options out there for roles (although not none), and she likely has a very filled and fulfilling private life. We're less than a year out from the news that she's been essentially single for the past six years. All that said, the time seems ripe for something exciting to be announced soon. Maybe a bit meaty film role with an auteur director. Maybe a lead role in a limited series (my personal favorite possibility). Let's also not forget that we get to see her in the new season of Only Murders in the Building in August. It sounds like she'll be featured less than in last season, but we also get to look forward to the fact that it's overwhelmingly likely that Meryl will be nominated for an Emmy next month for her supporting work in season 3. She's going to challenge for the win as well. 

There seems to be plenty of good will out there for her, evidenced by her recent honorary recognition at last month's Cannes Film Festival. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I really think Meryl wants (maybe even needs?) to continue acting or performing to feel like herself, to feel most alive, to feel vital. She's a young 75, at least by appearance. I say that from the perspective of a physical therapist. In my profession, one can't help but get a very clear and close up sense of what decades of life can do to the human body. Gravity takes its toll, and yet Meryl, at 75, maintains excellent posture, seemingly great spine mobility, good balance, a fluid cadence in her speech (which suggests to me a fleeting and nimble mind), and a vibrancy that suggests she'll continue to involve herself in new things. The physical presentation that I've observed makes her more easily cast in roles that might be up to ten to fifteen years younger than her chronological age. So there's a bounty of opportunity. If she wants it. 

I'll end this with a fun anecdote from the great Carol Burnett, who, at 91, was quoted this week as saying that she's interested in continuing to work as long as it's "fun." When then asked if she had specific actors with whom she'd like to collaborate, she shared, "Oh, there's quite a few. I would say Meryl Streep because she's funny and boy, can she sing."

How lovely it would be to see that happen.