Meryl Bites the Hand That Feeds Her and Recovers (Nails It)

Doree Shafrir dug up this old NYT profile of Meryl Streep from 1991, and it’s great fun. I was super struck by Streep’s ballsiness in this passage: “The loss of that role, which she says was a ‘bitter disappointment,’ resulted in her being without a job and deciding to do an American Express Card commercial with children from one of her daughters’ schools. ‘I don’t believe in the company,’ she says. ‘But I have a card, so I felt like I could kill two birds with one stone because my daughter’s school was in financial trouble. They got an enormous contribution from American Express, and I gave them one. So, it was good.’”

“I don’t believe in the company!” Yowza, Meryl! Yowza, Meryl, indeed. This letter appeared in the paper the next week:

To the Editor:

The interview I did for the Arts and Leisure section in conjunction with publicity for the release of the film “Defending Your Life” included a quote from me which completely misconstrues my feelings about my American Express commercial [“That Madcap Meryl. Really!” March 17 ].

I wouldn’t have done an American Express spot if I weren’t a satisfied customer. My family and I have very confidently used the services it provides for years and years. To convey that I have doubts about American Express or participated in the commercial in any way that undermines the integrity of the company (or my own!) was not the intent of my remarks in the context of our conversation. I mistakenly felt the writer understood this, and I regret it very much. You can call this “Defending Your Livelihood.” MERYL STREEP Los Angeles

The commercial, by the way, is footage of her reading stories to children. She doesn’t say American Express at all, and it’s really very compelling. I mean, if you’re Meryl Streep and you’re going to do a commercial, this is the one to do. Try to only watch it once! You might succeed for a minute, but then… what’s that line again? (“Everything went … DARK.”)