From The Telegraph:
'Consolation? I'm not sure I have it. I have a belief, I guess, in the power of the aggregate human attempt – the best of ourselves. In love and hope and optimism – you know, the magic things that seem inexplicable. Why we are the way we are. I do have a sense of trying to make things better. Where does that come from?' She laughs. 'And why do some people just seem to want to make other people miserable?'
Streep's father was a pharmaceutical executive, her mother a commercial artist. She is the eldest of three children, and the only daughter. After studying drama at Vassar and Yale, and acting on stage and in television, she made an acclaimed film debut in 1977, at the relatively late age of 28, in a supporting role in Julia, Fred Zinnemann's film about the novelist Lillian Hellman. In 1979 she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards for her role in The Deerhunter, and a year later she won the first of her two Best Actress Oscars for Kramer vs Kramer. (She won the second in 1983, for Sophie's Choice.)
Streep has a way of dividing opinion. It has become a favourite critical saw to describe her as a technically immaculate actress who lacks feeling; but audiences – and her fellow actors – tend to disagree. Diane Keaton once described her as 'my generation's genius', while among younger actresses she inspires an admiration bordering on the awe-struck. Vera Farmiga, who worked with her on The Manchurian Candidate, describes Streep as 'untouchable. I try to take all my cues from her as a role model for women, as an actress, as a human being.' (Dustin Hoffman, famously, was less complimentary. After starring with Streep in Kramer vs Kramer he described her as 'selfish' and 'obsessed', stating, 'I hate her guts – although I respect her as an actress.' Streep, for her part, has equably described Hoffman as an 'old buddy'.)