Meryl Streep is at once angelic and down to earth. She's perhaps the smartest actor I have worked with. She needed not one thing from me, and in any case, no guidance, direction or suggestion I could have given would have matched her flawless instincts. That made me feel blissfully inadequate. On A Prairie Home Companion she glided onto the set, her personal warmth transfixing us all and setting the tone for the day.
I have long admired the choices Meryl has made in her career. She's fearless. She navigates comedy and tragedy with equal ease and can move from one to the other in the blink of an eye. Working with her, you come to realize that her humanity off the set is no less remarkable. Meryl may be the most celebrated actor in the world, but she has never succumbed to the notion of celebrity. Her dedication to her privacy and family is fierce and rare.
Although Meryl, 56, chose to be an actor (a decision for which gratitude is the only response imaginable), I came to understand on the Prairie set why that might have been a terrible mistake. Because Meryl can sing. And I can't tell you how happy it will make you to hear her do it. When Meryl and Lily Tomlin sang "Goodbye to My Mama", everyone on set was in tears. Moments like those make you suppose you might be doing something right. If only in choosing your actors. Meryl's one in a million.
Altman's A Prairie Home Companion will be out in June