Meryl Streep can do anything. Foreign accents. The ABBA catalog. French cuisine. And in person, her giggly, maternal warmth can even put a sweaty-palmed journalist at ease. (''Ooh, you've got nice earrings!'') But ask Streep, 60, to name her proudest professional moment of the past 10 years and she is adorably inept. ''All right, so this decade is '89 no!'' she says, cackling at her blunder. ''Okay, let's locate ourselves. The 2000s. Okay. Let me think.'' How about when she became the most nominated actor in Oscar history? Or when she emerged as a hugely bankable star? Streep nods politely. It's clear that our greatest living actress simply doesn't do self-aggrandizement. ''I don't know,'' she says, finally. ''When I was 45, I should have been washed up. But I did The Bridges of Madison County. The studio wanted someone 35, but Clint Eastwood said, 'No, no, I want her.' That was a big deal.'' She smiles. ''I look back on my entire career and realize I've been dependent on the kindness of strangers and friends and mentors. That was my luck.'' And ours.
THE ROLES WE LOVED
Her sexy, feisty turn as a journalist earned her a record-breaking Oscar nod No. 13.
As a New Yorker with a dying friend, Streep simmered with heartache.
Angels in America(2003)
She played a rabbi, Ethel Rosenberg, a Mormon, and an angel!
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
As icy Ms. Priestly, she even made Cruella De Vil hair chic.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
Streep romped around Greece in a giddy, sun-kissed musical.
Julie & Julia (2009)
She nailed the legendary chef's mannerisms and made her touchingly real.