Depth Becomes Her

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE 1990
Streep teamed with Roseanne in 1989's unsuccessful She-Devil (''That [had been] an incredible BBC series — but I think they were afraid they would scare men off with a Jacobean-feminist revenge drama. Men didn't go anyway, so why pander?''). She then won her ninth nomination as the frazzled heroine of Carrie Fisher's comic showbiz novel; the role gave her a chance to belt out a country song at the end.

That was cool! Isn't that your fantasy? To be up in front of a couple of electric guitars in a rock & roll band? That was mine! I was Bonnie Raitt for a day. It was the last day of shooting, and they were having a party, and there was real food and real beer out there, and I knew if I did it, I could go to the party.

It was the first movie I made in Hollywood. The only time I'd ever been out there was for awards ceremonies. I'd get nauseous every time we'd come over the mountains and see Los Angeles — I'd think, ''Ohhhh, my God, I've gotta get the dress on...''


DEATH BECOMES HER 1992
After costarring with Albert Brooks in his Defending Your Life (1991), Streep was cast opposite Goldie Hawn as a vain, viperish actress who finds the fountain of youth in Robert Zemeckis' biting comedy. It was her first experience with high-tech F/X.

My first, my last, my only. I think it's tedious. Whatever concentration you can apply to that kind of comedy is just shredded. You stand there like a piece of machinery — they should get machinery to do it. I loved how it turned out. But it's not fun to act to a lampstand. ''Pretend this is Goldie, right here! Uh, no, I'm sorry, Bob, she went off the mark by five centimeters, and now her head won't match her neck!'' It was like being at the dentist.

I thought that movie was a documentary about the Los Angeles fixation with aging.... Women treat themselves that way because we're given power based on how we look — never mind Margaret Mead.


THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY 1995
After appearing with Glenn Close and Winona Ryder in an adaptation of Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits (1994) and Curtis Hanson's action film The River Wild (1994), Streep won the decade's most sought-after female role — and her 10th Oscar nomination — in Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the Robert James Waller best-seller.

I had a picture of who this was — I knew it was an Italian war bride, and I had grown up down the street from one. Her husband was this tall blond man, and she barely spoke any English. Over the years she learned — she was a very bright, interesting woman — but there was always something exotic about her. Anyway, the book had this woman in jeans and braless. It was just hard for me to understand her. I had a pretty vivid picture of her, and I didn't want to complicate it [laughs] with the author's actual intent. I honestly didn't finish the book. I started it and then thought, I'll wait for the screenplay. The screenplay had a woman in it.