EXCLUSIVE: How Meryl Streep stood up to Dustin Hoffman for grabbing her breast, threw Jack Nicholson out of her hotel room for his sexual advances and had a serious crush on Robert Redford revealed in new book
- Meryl Streep is arguably the most celebrated American actress of the past four decades, with 60 feature films and 21 Academy Award nominations
- Author Erin Carlson writes of Streep's rise to stardom in Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep out September 24
- She writes that Meryl's mother Mary instilled a 'preternatural confidence' in her by telling her 'you can do anything you want' at a young age
- The author tells of the starlet's interactions with a crude Dustin Hoffman who introduced himself with a burp and by grabbing her breast
- It's also revealed that Meryl was the object of many actors' affections including Jack Nicholson, whom she rejected
- Streep, 70, describes herself growing up in New Jersey as 'an ugly little kid with a big mouth, an obnoxious showoff'
- But it was her sharp personality that carried her through the politics of acting at Vassar College, then Yale and through Hollywood
Dustin Hoffman first introduced himself to Meryl Streep by burping and grabbing her breast when she auditioned for a play he was directing on Broadway and she was a student at Yale School of Drama in the mid 1970s.
She was already learning the fortitude and the politics of acting first at Vassar College and then at Yale - both would serve as pressure cooker atmospheres that worked her to bone and sent her to a therapist and a doctor for an ulcer.
It was unsettling to the drama student but a young and confident Meryl had the voice of her mother in her head telling her, 'you can do anything you want'.
Acting was a higher calling for Streep - something that was strongly reinforced by her mother Mary who instilled a 'preternatural confidence that would help her navigate treacherous waters – through ups, downs, and more than sixty feature films – to become one of the most celebrated actresses of the past four decades', writes Erin Carlson in Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep published by Hachette Books on September 24.
Meryl Streep is one of the most celebrated actresses of the past four decades, with 21 Academy Award nominations and has starred in over 60 feature films. She won her third Oscar in 2012 (pictured)
Erin Carlson writes of Streep's rise to stardom in Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep out September 24 (pictured during her Oscar wins in 1983 (left) and 1980
It was Dustin Hoffman's crude behavior in Meryl's college years that prepared her for when when they later starred in Kramer vs. Kramer in 1979 - and what would bring her her first Oscar win.
For his own unscripted vision of dramatic effect in the film, he slammed her in the face and whispered the name of her recently deceased sweetheart in her ear.
Hoffman never pushed her around again, according to the author, and his legendary ugly behavior caught up with him years later in the #MeToo movement. He lamely attributed it to being a flirt and just a way to loosen up.
'What Dustin really wants to do is give birth. But he's still glad he's got a penis', Meryl stated.
That sharp personality hadn't changed much from when Meryl was growing up in Bernardsville, New Jersey, remembering herself as 'an ugly little kid with a big mouth, an obnoxious showoff'.
She alienated classmates with her outspoken personality that motivated them to chase her up a tree and strike her legs with sticks until they bled.
Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep is out September 24
But it was her mother's loop of positivity and mantra that she could 'do anything' that stuck with her.
'Mary (her mother) said it from the time I was little and that made me arrogant,' Meryl said.
Meryl discovered she had a talent for acting when she stepped into her first big role at age six — the Virgin Mary in the Streep family living room. She wrapped her mother's half-slip around her head and held her Betsy Westsy doll, a stand-in for the baby Jesus, and fell into a trance of holiness that spread to her siblings.
She had cast her younger brother Harry as Joseph and her sister Dana as a barnyard animal. The young girl, with brown permed hair and glasses, now had to learn how to be appealing. 'So I studied the character I imagined I wanted to be, that of the generically pretty high school girl', Meryl is quoted.
She was already honing her acting craft in high school that won her the coveted title of homecoming queen. First she had to escape her ghastly adolescence and her mother's love affair with Bobby Home Perms.
Meryl started traveling in to New York to take voice lessons at age twelve but after four years, she realized she lacked the passion to sing opera professionally so she dropped the lessons and moved on to boys, cheerleading, Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
Now she staged her first major role of her life — teen beauty queen.
'I wanted to learn how to be appealing. This was all about appealing to boys and the same time being accepted by the girls — a very tricky negotiation', she confessed.
The author writes that Dustin Hoffman first introduced himself to Meryl Streep burping and grabbing her breast when she auditioned for a play he was directing on Broadway and she was a student at Yale School of Drama in the mid 1970s (pictured together at the 1980 Oscars)
The pair went on to the film the 1979 film Kramer vs Kramer, for which Meryl won an Academy Award (pictured being kissed on the neck by Hoffman at the awards)
Jack Nicholson started falling in love with Meryl while filming Heartburn in 1976 and she threw him out of her hotel room for his overt sexual advances
Studying Vogue and Mademoiselle magazines provided the imagery to peroxide and straighten her hair.
A diet of an apple a day, name brand clothing, lipstick, eyelashes and contacts, helped her mimic the '60s dream girl next door.
She had to lose her natural bossy, opinionated and loud temperament and her usual routine of making jokes, animal noises and terrorizing the teachers.
'I willfully cultivated softness, agreeableness, a breezy, natural sort of sweetness, even shyness— which was very very very effective on the boys', she said.
But the girls sniffed out the deception and didn't buy into the act. Meryl laughed at every stupid thing every boy said and lowered her eyes. 'This was real, real acting', Streep confessed.
She practiced singing to her father's Barbra Streisand albums and won the lead in the high school production of The Music Man.
The limelight and roles now came her way along with jealousy from her fellow students.
She only had two friends in high school and one was her cousin.
'Envy would dog Meryl her entire career, resentment flowing from drama school professors who tried to break her, from film critics who wanted to see her go down and from conventional beauties losing Oscar-worthy parts to an unlike movie star', writes Carlson.
Meryl's mother Mary instilled a 'preternatural confidence' in her by telling her 'you can do anything you want' at a young age, pictured together at the 1999 Golden Globes Award
Streep graduated with her homecoming queen crown and enrolled at Vassar College in upstate New York and then on to Yale School of Drama.
In three years, she played in forty different rolls including one class that required students to improvise their death. Her improvised role was to give herself an abortion.
She also liked using a wheelchair and playing an elderly eccentric.
But she was still struggling with letting her true emotions out and was dubbed by one professor as the Ice Princess.
On to New York where she took odd temp jobs to pay the rent – bartender, bike messenger, hand model -- while being a struggling actor and aspiring movie star.
Meryl became a Broadway starlet when Joseph Papp, renowned theatrical producer and director, tapped her to play a 'lusty, busty hot mess' wearing prosthetic breasts in a Tennessee Williams play, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton that won her a Tony nomination.
The role introduced her to John Cazale, an actor's actor, who played Fredo in the Godfather movies and alongside Pacino In Dog Day Afternoon, and Deer Hunter.
They fell deeply in love and Meryl moved into his Tribeca apartment.
All was bliss until he was diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to his bones.
Meryl called Robert Redford the 'best kisser' while they were filming Out of Africa and said she had the 'biggest crush' on the Hollywood heartthrob
'For the day we shot our love scene, Meryl and I had an affair. And when the cameras stopped, our affair stopped,' Jeremy Irons said of Streep during filming, pictured together in New York City in 1981
Meryl fell in love with The Godfather actor John Cazale and was heartbroken when he died by her side of lung cancer
De Niro paid the insurance to keep him in the film and Meryl paid his medical bills and moved into the hospital with him.
When the doctor told her he was gone, she pounded on his chest weeping. He opened his eyes briefly to tell her, 'It's all right, Meryl', and then he died in March '78.
It broke her heart.
'To see her in that act of love for this man was overwhelming', Robert de Niro said.
What she learned from Cazale was to ask the director twenty question. 'There are a lot of other possibilities', he taught her.
Meryl had to leave the loft that she and Cazale had shared and Don Gummer, an artist and close friend of her brother's offered the two siblings his Soho loft while he was traveling.
Meryl scored a small role in Woody Allen's Manhattan and found it unsettling that the Woodman had written a love triangle with his alter ego that ensnared Diane Keaton and sixteen year old Mariel Hemingway.
She viewed Woody as 'a womanizer, very self-involved', at the expense of his art.
The camera was already falling in love with her and won her a role in Kramer vs. Kramer.
While Gummer was in Europe, Meryl initiated a correspondence with Gummer and she stayed on when he returned to New York.
He built her a little room in the loft but they fell in love that she described as having 'fallen into heaven'.
Marriage and babies became the order of the day – along with more acting roles and an Academy award for her role in Kramer vs. Kramer.
She longed to be out of New York and segued into a role shot in the UK in the French Lieutenant's Woman with Jeremy Irons who confessed that their passionate love scenes were authentic.
'For the day we shot our love scene, Meryl and I had an affair. And when the cameras stopped, our affair stopped.'
Meryl longed to play 'complicated, attractive, prickly women'.
'I like difficult people in life', she said.
Actress Carrie Fisher and Meryl Streep became the best of friends and the author writes Carrie had to teach Meryl 'to be a truant, like a bad girl'
Meryl and Carrie remained friends to the end and Meryl gave the eulogy at the double memorial for Carrie and her mother, Debbie Reynolds who died the very next day (all three woman are pictured together in 1990)
Film, and theatre director, producer and actor Mike Nichols, who worked closely with Meryl until his untimely death in 2014, noted, 'As she becomes the person she is portraying, the other performers begin to react to her as if she were that person. She changes the chemistry of all the relationships. I've never seen anybody else do that'.
Meryl described Kevin Kline as 'a dream. He's Heaven' and confessed that Robert Redford was 'the best kisser I ever met in the movies'.
In fact 'I had a big crush on him. He's a heartthrob'.
The two got along so well while on the set of Out of Africa, it was too well and caused ripples.
'We'd be off camera between takes, taking it easy'. How easy she doesn't say but rumors started circulating that they were going to get married.
Jack Nicholson started falling in love with Meryl while filming Heartburn in 1976 and suggested they go over their lines together.
He wasn't the only one falling for the actress.
According to the author, Mike Nichols had his own 'severe crush' on the actress although Jack was much more demonstrative.
Meryl knew how to blow Jack off but it was reported that she threw him out of her hotel room and vowed never to make another movie with him after his sexual overtures became relentless.
Streep was determined to be an actress rather than follow the route of the old fashioned movie star.
After becoming close friends with Carrie Fisher, she and Don bought a house in Brentwood and moved to the West Coast.
It was a big move for someone who stated they didn't like to be out and dressed up and seen.
Carrie had to teach Meryl 'to be a truant, like a bad girl'.
'Bad behavior – and anyone who wants that kind of training that's my specialty', Carrie said.
She and Carried remained friends to the end and Meryl gave the eulogy at the double memorial for Carrie and her mother, Debbie Reynolds who died the very next day.
Meryl sang Happy Days are Here Again, a favorite of Carrie's.
In LA, Meryl appeared in too much dumb stuff, according to Mike Nichols, listening to her new agent, Bryan Lourd, at CAA who was dating Carrie as well as being her agent.
Streep confessed she never had a game plan for any of it.
'An actor is always dependent on what comes around...I never aimed for the big hit. I don't have the machine to do that. I'm pretty aware of what I look like. I don't look like Sharon Stone'.
And the roles kept coming even in middle age because sex appeal was not her hole card.
Streep married artist Don Gummer, her only husband, in 1978 and they have four children together
Meryl described falling in love with Don as having 'fallen into heaven', pictured at the Oscars in 2018
The couple have four children, some of whom are actors including Mamie Gummer, Grace Gummer, model Louise Gummer, and Harry Gummer
She never wanted to go the glamour route and deliberately chose to be frumpy looking – even when accepting an Academy Award, she claimed she dressed down not wanting to make people jealous.
While she was described as resembling a soccer mom with a minivan filled with kids and a load of laundry at home waiting to be done, she scored big with Clint Eastwood in Bridges of Madison County.
The filming left both actors in tears, the love affair seemed so real.
After filming, they relaxed with a pint or two of Guinness.
The one thing she says she stole from Eastwood was to speak in a whisper. He never raised his voice that made everyone lean in to hear him. But he wasn't funny. Funny she learned from Mike Nichols.
She was set to play Maria Callas in an HBO movie when Nichols died of cardiac arrest in November 2014.
She described her close friend as 'an indelible, irreplaceable man'.
Had she not been an actress, Streep says she'd probably work with the environmental movement.
She became alarmed by the thinning ozone layer while filming in Australia where residents were suffering high levels of melanoma that carved away sections of their faces.
She became spokesperson for a group recommended by Robert Redford, the national Resources Defense Council and became the public face of the anti-pesticide campaign.
Her support helped to get a bill passed that required chemical and pesticide companies to register all pesticides on the market – as well as create awareness of eco-friendly consumer products.
She has been raising her voice since 1990 and funded an annuaI four day script development lab for women screenwriters over the age of forty working with NY Women in Film and Television.
'I'm a humanist and I believe in women's rights,' she stated and went after Walt Disney studios in 2014 for supporting an anti-Semitic industry lobby as well as being a gender bigot.
Streep has made more than 60 feature films, played dozens of accents, had one husband and raised four children.
'No matter what you see me or hear me saying when I'm on your TV, hold a statuette and spewing – that's acting.
'Being a celebrity has taught me to hide. But being an actor has opened my soul'.