Meryl Streep Learned 2 Languages For 1 Role

Meryl Streep is an absolute gem among acting elites, and she has the accolades to prove it. At this point, Oscar nominations have stacked up so high for the multi-talented celebrity that the assurance of a nod from the Academy is a kind of running joke. She has managed to make silly parts in comedies a huge part of her repertoire without giving up the kind of gravity and seriousness it takes to pull off truly dramatic roles with heavy themes. 

While it’s easy to sing the praises of such an accomplished star, even her biggest fans have to be taken aback to find out that Streep once learned not one but two languages for a single role. 

Meryl Streep smiling in front of a blue background
Meryl Streep | Marilla Sicilia/Getty Images

Meryl Streep is one of the most celebrated actors 

If someone needs evidence of Streep’s impressive talents, they need look no further than her record for most Oscar nominations. She has been nominated an astonishing 21 times (the most by far) and has taken home the prize on three separate occasions, according to IMDb. Her nominations date all the way back to 1979 (when she earned a nod for her role in The Deer Hunter). Since then, she’s been nominated practically every other year, including a three-year stretch from 1982 to 1984 where she got a nomination each year! Her longest dry spell was from 1991 (when she was nominated for Postcards from the Edge) to 1996 (when she was nominated for The Bridges of Madison County). 

Her full filmography is even more impressive. The actor is simply profound in her output, taking on major roles year after year with barely any breaks. Her credits include taking on biographical roles like portraying Julia Child in Julie & Julia as well as playing fan favorites in whimsical films like Mamma Mia! Her range is just as astounding as the sheer number of films she’s been in, and even on the rare occasion when the film itself isn’t received well, most agree that Streep’s performance was still phenomenal. 

Meryl Streep is a method actor

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Part of what makes Streep’s on-screen transformation into wildly different characters possible is her dedication to the craft of acting. As a dedicated method actor, Streep gets deep into the psychology behind her characters. Often, this has meant getting to know the details of real biographies as Streep has repeatedly helped tell real-life tales of some of history’s most dramatic moments. 

In Silkwood, for example, Streep portrayed Karen Silkwood, a nuclear plant worker who turned whistleblower about the industry’s misdeeds before dying mysteriously in a car accident. In Out of Africa, she stepped into the shoes of Danish baroness Karen Blixen. Even when she takes on fictional roles, she often does so in a way that tells meaningful stories about actual events. In Sophie’s Choice, Streep portrayed an Auschwitz survivor with such passion and conviction that many filmgoers were moved to tears and hold this performance up as her finest to date. 

‘Sophie’s Choice’ required Meryl Streep’s extreme dedication

Sophie’s Choice asked Streep to take on a deeply emotional role that she knew would be incredibly sensitive to many viewers. Streep was determined to do justice to the part, and that included making sure that she got the accent right. Her character was supposed to speak with a Polish accent, to Streep dedicated herself to learning the language to make sure she did it well. 

As Collider reports, though, she didn’t stop there. Her character did speak with a Polish accent, but she also spoke German. Streep studied the second language to make sure that she was able to convincingly pull off not only the Polish accent but the delivery of the German lines as well. Talk about dedication to her art!