New article with kind of rare parts of interviews with Meryl Streep about acting on the Goldenglobes blog:
I spent a long time thinking acting wasn’t worthwhile, that it was frivolous and not worth anything to the world at large. When I went to drama school I thought it was silly — speaking someone else’s words, imitating behavior, feeling other’s emotions. I’m an intelligent parrot, that’s what I am. It was very easy to dismiss this great art form.
I don’t feel this way anymore. We are defined and remembered, as a civilization, by the arts. I was once invited to a dinner on the arts in Washington D.C., and Nixon’s chief of staff, Alexander Haig–an unlikely choice for a speaker–got up and said, “Nobody remembers the armies that anybody had raised or the bridges or railways they built. Times are remembered for their artists.” I believe that, too.
I have been accused of being a technical actress. I won’t denigrate my training but, truthfully, I am not ever aware of any method. I do a lot of research if the part calls for it. If the part doesn’t, I don’t do a thing, just show up.
So much of acting has to do with listening. I am a reactive actress. I don’t know what I’m going to do until I see who’s coming in the door.
When I was a young actress, I worked with Irene Worth, and I asked her, “How do you get that emotion to come out so freely?” And she answered, “How do you stop it?” It was a complete revelation. What she did was lay herself open to the complete events of her imagination.
It’s just a matter of thinking, of really believing you are that character. And in a way, you can’t stop that thing from happening.