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Last Updated: Monday, 26 June 2006, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
Busy Streep is always in fashion
By Manoush Zomorodi
BBC News

With three films out this summer and seven more in production, Meryl Streep may be the hardest working star in Hollywood.

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
Streep plays a ruthless magazine editor in The Devil Wears Prada
Recently she appeared in Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion, and later this year she can be heard in animated feature The Ant Bully.

At the moment, however, her mind is on satirical comedy The Devil Wears Prada, in which she plays a high-powered fashion magazine editor who terrorises her personal assistant.

The film is based on the book by Lauren Weisberger, who based it in turn on her time assisting Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Wintour is known in fashion circles for her shrewdness and sleek appearance. Streep, though, says she had no intention of mimicking her.

"I wasn't interested in doing a documentary," she says. "I didn't want to copy anybody."

Instead, she rigorously researched the world of high-fashion publishing and worked to create her character's signature look with a white wig.

I'm really surprised people aren't completely sick of me after 150 years in this business
Meryl Streep
Streep also admits incorporating elements of her own personality into her character, Miranda Priestly.

"I'm quite sure the imperious parts of me were there and waiting to come out," she laughs.

"Part of it was just looking at people who are very disciplined - disciplined and focused and very successful."

Although her career continues to thrive, the 57-year-old actress says women over 40 are constantly underemployed.

"Yet it's the moment in their lives when they're the smartest, most productive, least encumbered and most forgiving," she says.

Anna Wintour
Streep denies basing her character on Vogue editor Anna Wintour
"If you've made it to that point you know a lot. So it's society's loss that older women aren't more utilised."

That's not something one could say of Streep, winner of two Academy Awards and still the critics' darling.

That said, some of her recent films have not fared well at the US box office.

Last year's Prime, a romantic comedy in which she co-starred with Uma Thurman, quickly disappeared from cinemas.

And reviewers labelled A Prairie Home Companion - an adaptation of Garrison Keillor's long-running radio show - a disappointment given Altman's involvement and its high-calibre cast.

Streep says she has trouble understanding why audiences do not always like her films. "It's a mystery to me because I like them all.

"But then I don't know what the vast population of America wants to see. Most of what they want to see, I don't want to.

"I'm just thrilled that I'm still employed, and I'm really surprised people aren't completely sick of me after 150 years in this business."

First love

Regardless of whether a movie succeeds, Streep's involvement automatically gives it credibility.

After all, she is the most nominated actor in the history of the Academy Awards, having been shortlisted 13 times between 1979 and 2003.

Meryl Streep in A Prairie Home Companion
A Prairie Home Companion sees Streep play a country singer
But the mother of four may soon be opting out of movies for a while to spend more time with her first love, theatre.

Later this summer, she will appear on stage in Mother Courage and Her Children at the open-air Delacorte Theatre in New York's Central Park.

And the actress says she may do more of the same once her youngest two children finish school and leave home.

"It's hard during the school year to be gone every night and all weekend," she explains. "But maybe when everybody's out of the house I'll do more theatre."

And it seems she has passed on her desire to tread the boards to the next generation of Streeps.

Her eldest daughter, Mamie Gummer, recently received positive reviews for her performance in The Water's Edge at Manhattan's Second Stage Theatre.

  • The Devil Wears Prada opens in the US on 30 June and the UK on 27 October.

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