A portrait of a woman, an era, and a profession: the first thoroughly researched biography of Meryl Streep that explores her beginnings as a young woman of the 1970s grappling with love, feminism, and her astonishing talent
“When they called my name,” Meryl Streep said in her 2012 Oscar speech, “I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Ohhh, no. Oh, come on—why? Her. Again.’” By now, it’s hard to remember a time when her name wasn’t synonymous with the title Greatest Living Actress. But who was she before she was the “Iron Lady” of acting? How did she learn to do what she does? What happens when we look at her again, not as a celebrated diva but as a limpid twentysomething burning with talent and ambition?
In 1975, Meryl Streep was a promising young graduate of the Yale School of Drama, just finding her place in the New York theater scene. She rode her bicycle everywhere, kept a diary, napped before performances, and stayed out late “talking about acting with actors in actors’ bars.” Yet Meryl stood apart from her peers. In her first season in New York, she appeared in back-to-back Broadway plays, headlined Shakespeare in the Park, and earned a Tony Award nomination. One thing she knew she would never be: a movie star.
Her Again is an intimate look at the artistic coming-of-age of the greatest actress of her generation, from the homecoming float at her suburban New Jersey high school through her discovery of the stage at Vassar College and the Yale School of Drama to her star-making roles in The Deer Hunter, Manhattan, and Kramer vs. Kramer. New Yorker contributor Michael Schulman charts her heady rise to stardom on the New York stage, her passionate, tragically short-lived love affair with fellow actor John Cazale, and her evolution as a young woman of the 1970s wrestling with changing ideas of feminism, marriage, love, and sacrifice.
Featuring eight pages of arresting black-and-white photos, some never before seen, this captivating story reveals a gifted young woman coming into her extraordinary talents at a time of immense transformation, offering a rare glimpse into the life of the actress long before she became an icon.
Michael Schulman is a contributor and arts editor at the New Yorker. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Believer, and other publications. He lives in New York City.