A flawlessly rendered accent is no longer enough.
by EJ Dickson
Known for her chameleon-like range and ability to master virtually any accent, Meryl Streep is a two-time Oscar winner and a sixteen-time nominee, a record for any actor or actress in history. Whether she’s playing a housewife grappling with the loss of her child, a menopausal pastry chef grappling with the loss of her husband, or a beleaguered lesbian ranch hand grappling with the loss of her prized Hereford, Streep is so renowned for her awesomeness that even SNL paid homage to it with a series of sketches starring Abby Elliot.
Streep is currently starring as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the The Iron Lady, which is already garnering critical accolades and early Oscar buzz. So before we start polishing Streep’s third Oscar, we thought it might be a good idea to suggest some other real-life figures for her to play. So Meryl, honey, break out the prostheses and brush up on your Stanislavsky, ‘cause you’re gonna need more than an accent and a cashmere sweater vest to pull off these roles.
1. Steve Jobs
Since Jobs’ death in October, Hollywood has been tittering over who will play Jobs in the inevitable biopic. Although names like George Clooney and Noah Wyle have been floating around, industry bigwigs have shockingly failed to name the talent who could blow those pretty boys out of the water. Streep’s fine bone structure is remarkably similar to Jobs’, and his signature turtleneck paired with her trademark spectacles/chunky turquoise necklace combo is sure to dominate the catwalks come fall 2013. Plus, this unconventional choice would be following in the footsteps of Blanchett’s turn as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There and Amanda Bynes’s equally compelling performance in She’s The Man, so it’s not as if the turn would be without precedent.
2. Mei Mei, the world’s oldest panda
Although Streep voiced the role of Mrs. Fox in Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, as well as the Queen in 2006’s forgettable animated film The Ant Bully, she has yet to dominate the kids’ movie market in the same way she’s dominated comedy, drama, musicals, and… um… well, pretty much absolutely every other film genre ever. By taking on the role of Mei Mei — the world’s oldest panda in captivity, who died in 2008 at the age of thirty-six, or the equivalent of 108 human years — Meryl could tap into the audience reserved for Shrek 147 and continue playing the role that she made famous in 2010’s It’s Complicated: the old broad who still loves to look hot and party.
3. Janis Joplin
For the past decade, plans for a biopic about the life of the legendary rock singer, who died at the age of 27 of a drug overdose, have languished in development hell. Although Amy Adams, Brittany Murphy, Scarlett Johansson, and Zooey Deschanel have been attached to a number of different Joplin-related projects, producers have struggled with obtaining the rights to Joplin’s life story — but these women ain’t got nothing on Mama Streep. She’s already proven she can sing with Mamma Mia!, and watching her screech her way through “Ball and Chain” in a recording studio while shooting up and receiving the oral sex from Jim Morrison would prove that… well, I’m not sure what it would prove, but it’d be pretty sweet. Also, I think it goes without saying that dirty sheep dog with laryngitis would be more convincing as Janis than Scarlett “Breathy Coo” Johansson.
4. Ayn Rand
Let’s be honest — even when she’s playing the villain, there’s something about Meryl that just makes us love her. Joanna in Kramer vs. Kramer is flawed, but ultimately sympathetic; Sister Aloysius in Doubt is relentlessly self-righteous, but well-intentioned; and even emotionally abusive Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada is downright cuddly by the end of the film. It’s time for Meryl to break her adoring public’s hearts by playing a character so steely, divisive, and viciously unlikable that not even a Swede-penned musical number can melt the audience’s resolve to hate the fuck out of her. Author/philosopher/Objectivism founder/possible textbook sociopath Ayn Rand was only a few years younger than Streep when she published her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, and she hasn’t been the subject of a biopic since the 1999 TV movie The Passion of Ayn Rand.
Although Meryl appeared as herself in a cameo role in the Farrelly Brothers’ 2003 movie Stuck On You, she’s such a chameleon that it’s sometimes difficult to see the person underneath the layers of prostheses and Indo-Danish-Portuguese accents. This is a testament to how great an actor she is, but imagine how thrilling it would be to get a peek inside the day-to-day life of the vaunted First Lady of the American Cinema with a documentary, a la Joan Rivers’ A Piece of Work, or maybe even a reality show. Watching Meryl Streep rehearse an acceptance speech, use a Golden Globe as a toilet paper holder, or hurl a glass of sauvignon blanc at Dame Judi Dench during a heated argument over the Meisner versus Method techniques, would make for some truly riveting drama.