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How Meryl Streep Has Remained So Relevant for So Long

Since the 1970s, American actress Meryl Streep has been able to call herself one of the most popular residents of the Hollywood block. She’s widely considered among the finest thespians that cinema has ever seen, is constantly sought after by filmmakers and production studios alike, and that’s been the case for the past several decades. She’s never once fallen off the public or professional radar, and that’s thanks to the various habits, practices, mindsets, and inherent abilities found within the famous actress.

Her individual films may not be the most commercially successful or overall most well-known films ever made, but her name value almost carried each individual project to new heights, nonetheless. If it weren’t for her inclusion in most of the titles throughout her critically acclaimed career, those individual films would hardly be heard of or discussed today.


Of course, one way to remain a mainstay in Hollywood is by building connections with fellow industry members. Streep of course did just that, but first, she was tasked with making a name for herself in one of the most competitive markets in the world. And again, she did just that thanks to a careful, nuanced approach to her respective craft.

Her Raw Talent and Many Accomplishments

Universal Pictures

If you weren’t already privy to this fun piece of trivia, it’s worth noting off the bat here that Meryl holds an Academy Award record for having more nominations than any other performer in the history of the ceremony. She’s received seventeen nominations throughout her career for Best Actress, along with four of the Supporting variety. And of course, several of those roles weren’t just the most notable of Streep’s career, but among the most important performances ever put to screen.

Her efforts in Robert Benton’s legal drama Kramer vs Kramer (1979) were one thing, but she reached a higher level of acting in general when she starred as the titular character in Sophie’s Choice (1982). Both roles won her an Academy Award — the former for Best Supporting Actress, the latter for Best Actress. But again, her work in Sophie’s Choice by Alan J. Pakula should go down as the greatest testament to her acting prowess.

She’s still receiving nominations to this day, making her one of eight performers to ever receive nominations at the Oscars throughout five different decades. So, her ability to transform her every move to match the demeanors of respective characters has undoubtedly rendered her a Hollywood mainstay. But another thing keeping her career so strongly afloat is her relationship with big-name directors and co-stars alike.

Her Friends in the Industry

Falling in Love
Paramount Pictures

Throughout her time as an A-list name in Hollywood, Streep has developed her fair share of interpersonal relationships with fellow performers and creatives alike. She’s worked a few times with Robert De Niro, for instance: first in The Deer Hunter (1978), next in Falling in Love (1984), and lastly with Marvin’s Room (1996). They have a strong relationship outside of their work, too, which undoubtedly led to stronger performances on screen and thereby more inherent recognition.

And as for directors that frequently cast Streep in their films, there’s perhaps no one more prominent than Mike Nichols. After directing her in Silkwood (1983) — to an Academy Award-nominated degree, no less — the American filmmaker led her once again in Heartburn (1986), albeit to a less notable degree. But their work in Postcards From the Edge (1990) goes down among their most famous films, respectively. Plus, he directed her in a miniseries for HBO called Angels in America (2003), which was highly revered in its own right.

And really, her roles on television are the only ones she’s ever reprised. That’s arguably the strongest case for why Streep has remained so relevant all these years down the line: because she completely avoids being featured in franchises. Several actors throughout Hollywood history have been known to steer clear of sequels, but Streep’s practice thereof is perhaps the most well-known.

Her Avoidance of Franchises

Wes Anderson's film Fantastic Mr. Fox
20th Century Fox

She’s one of the most popular instances of an actor or actress entirely avoiding Hollywood franchises. Whether it’s within the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Pixar’s long line of animated films, most big-name performers working today have at least one franchise in their resume. Not Streep, though.

Superhero movies don’t exist to her as a genre, and among the only animated films she’s appeared in was one directed by Wes Anderson. Of course, that was Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), in which she performed just brilliantly as the titular character’s anthropomorphic wife. And with Star Wars, Transformers, Toy Story, and more franchises constantly releasing sequels, prequels, reboots, and spinoffs, there has undoubtedly been an influx of the term “franchise fatigue” for general film fans as of late.

But that will never be the case for Meryl Streep. She’s remained among the most relevant actresses that Hollywood has to offer, and she’s nearly fifty years into her career. That kind of prevalence and timelessness might not ever be matched again. Audiences will never have to experience Streep fatigue.

Related: 11 Major Film Roles Meryl Streep Turned Down or Didn’t Get

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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