I know this won’t be a popular opinion. There are die-hard Meryl fans and she’s received numerous awards, evidently people love her acting. I must preface that this opinion is based on her acting only, not her personality since I haven’t met her. She donates to multiple charities and could very well be a good person. My problem with Meryl is her acting.

In good acting it should appear naturally. Much like good ballet features ballerinas that appear to float effortlessly without showing that they actually doing physically demanding aerobics; likewise, a good actor makes it look easy and without effort. With Meryl, she is always ‘on,’ and always ‘acting.’ In all of her performances it’s as if she is screaming for attention saying, “look at me I’m- acting.” I’m not claiming to be expert on either, but I do have a bachelor’s degree in theatre and studied ballet as a child.

Along with the dislike of her acting, is also her phony public persona which is not her best acting. Meryl’s waspy faux humility is so insincere it makes her incredibly hard to watch in interviews. For an example of this disingenuous act one can reference her 2012 Oscar acceptance speech where she feigned disbelief saying how much the Oscar’s hated her… They clearly do, why else would they nominate her so many times?


Meryl, being one of the few white actresses to get roles over the age of sixty, has reached a saturation point to this audience member. Meaning, she has started in too many films over the years to be seen as anything other than Meryl Streep. While, I credit her for choosing different kinds of roles, she has over exposed herself and is no longer interesting to watch as an actor.

That’s not to say all of her performances are wretched. She was great in The Deer Hunter, Julie and Julia and The Devil Wears Prada, to name a couple. Sure she can master accents, but when paid $10 million a picture, there’s an assumption the actor can handle whatever accent is needed. An inability to handle an accent reflects poorly on an actor, more than a good mastery of accents reflects on an actor.

In truth, I love Into the Woods, I have favorite songs from the musical and can sing them.  I’m such a big fan of the film that I was willing to put my views on Meryl on hold because I so wanted the film to be good, and her part in it. While it’s not entirely Meryl’s fault, the film was terrible and she in it. I know this comes on the heels of a certain Oscar nomination, which just goes to show how poor a year in film it has been and many stronger performances were overlooked. In the musical Into the Woods, a witch casts a spell on a baker and his wife leaving them infertile, but offers them the chance to reverse the spell. This offer is not a charitable one; the witch needs a third party to collect ingredients for a potion to restore her youth. The fairytale combines most of the classics including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstock, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and several more. The play tells a farcical Grimm account, the film has taken the jokes and the teeth out of the dark tales in exchange for a Disney stamp of approval. This is a film I wanted to love, but they took a story written for adults and made a film for kids. Think Phantom Menace. That’s the level of remorseful hate I felt leaving the film.


Meryl, was grossly miscast as the witch, which should have been played by a much younger actress. A central plot of the story is the witches’ miraculous transformation of ‘youth and beauty.’ The trouble was Meryl’s old witch looked not unlike a 65-year-old woman with bed head in need of a manicure, and Meryl’s young witch looked like 65-year-old Meryl Streep in a 1980s beauty queen gown. We all know what a young pretty Meryl looked like, where were the Benjamin Button make up artists when Disney needed them? Streep can carry a tone, but wasn’t scary enough or mean enough as the witch to really guilt, frighten, or motivate the characters she manipulates. She fell short of what the role was, for those familiar with the play and the character.

I don’t blame Meryl for her nomination, but I do find it baffling. Perhaps the Academy sent out a different version of the film, than the one I saw, because the only good thing worthwhile about Into The Woods, was Chris Pine’s son Agony. It’s on YouTube, girls! Meryl Streep at 65 is showing no signs of stopping with three films out this year. I only suggest for her audiences sake that she take a break, and share the roles with the likes of Sissy Spacek, Julie Hagerty, Angela Bassett or countless other talented actresses not given nearly as much time on air. I also beseech directors to try more creative casting, much all older women be played by Meryl Streep, Judy Dench, or Jane Fonda? Must they all be white? I’m sure Meryl does it for the love of acting, or so she claims, after all one would assume at $10 million a picture, she doesn’t need more money….

By Riley Arthur

Riley Arthur is an American photographer and journalist living in Preston.