The Day I Worked As Meryl Streep’s Acting Coach

It’s Friday morning and my cell phone rings. Only today, it’s not my usual retro ring tone, but Johan Bach’s Prelude #1. I think to myself, “I don’t have even this ring tone. Who is this person with magical powers?” I answer in a state of confusion. “Hello?” The voice on the phone was pure symphony, “Hello Du, this is Meryl Streep, I’m calling to see if you were available today to be my acting coach?” I didn’t know how Meryl Streep found my number. The truth is, I needed the extra cash and why not spend a day with perhaps the most graceful and stunning woman ever.

An hour later, I arrived at her mansion where her puppies greeted me with the same enthusiasm of an Elvis impersonator at a Thai restaurant. I was swept inside by the mansion’s beauty and then I saw her. Meryl Streep was standing there wearing a white bathroom robe, but the way this woman wears a bathroom robe is how a regular woman wear a wedding dress. It was too much grace for me to handle and I fell down immediately from my standing position. Meryl hid her adorable face in her own hand and laughed like the girl next door. I fell again. “You’re too charming Meryl Streep.” Stop it. The Oscar winning actress sympathized with my troubles with gravity and ruffled her hair to take her beauty down a notch. Then finally, I could stand upright.

“Thank you for coming over.” she graciously announced. I shook her hand and instantly felt Meryl’s magic running through my arteries. How was this woman so quiet and powerful at the same time? And how am I supposed to coach her in acting when I can’t even stand in her vicinity? Meryl began to explain, “You see Du, from time to time, I work with a non-actor to act with, without acting which helps me be an un-actor.” This was her secret to and some serious Bruce Lee wisdom shit. Meryl continued, “What we’re going to do is play Hide and Seek.” “Hide and Seek?” I replied. “What’s that gotta do with un-acting?” Meryl Streep, although inches shorter than me, somehow looked down at me. Her eyes could speak volumes and right now they were saying, “Why are you questioning my methods, you little man?” The greatest actors have this talent of speaking in full sentences with their eyes, but Meryl Streep took this skill to another level. Her eyes at this moment, were speaking to me in a German accent. That’s an accent you never want to mess with. Then again they say Mandarin is the new German. Anyhow, fearing for my life I closed my eyes and started to count backwards from a hundred so Meryl could start hiding.

99-98-97… In my self-created darkness, I heard Meryl’s delicate girl-like run. Her bare feet made a pitter patter sound and it was clear that Meryl Streep loved the sound of the rain. Her feet’s patter continued, strangely circling around me. 35-34-33… Why was Meryl Streep paying me to play hide and seek with her, when all she was doing was running in circles around me? 7-6-5…. What was she doing? 3-2-.1… From the north-west corner I heard Meryl’s giggle. “Ready or not, here I come.” I opened my eyes ever slow slowly and crept around the living room. The silence was deafening. The one sound I did hear was the shine from three Oscars on the mantle. For some reason, Meryl dressed the golden men up in Barbie’s clothes. I guess after your second Oscar, you start to treat them like action figures. I continued my search.

I first checked behind a piano. It couldn’t hurt. It actually sort of did, I found her collection of Golden Globes. These really didn’t matter. I peeked behind the drapes, where I discovered her Baftas. This was getting redundant. “Meryl Streep, I give up. Come out, come out wherever you are.” Nothing. I figured she was just playing a mean trick on me. Perhaps it was time for me to step up my game. Would she come out from her hiding place if I started to cry? I realize this was battling Meryl Streep one-on-one in acting, but I had nothing to lose. So I sat down on the couch and made the best crying face I could. I stole this one particular crying face from Kirsten Stewart’s ‘I’m-in-love-with-you-and-it-hurts-so-much’ face. I couldn’t get a tear to form. Then it hit me, I’m going to act from the inside-out. This is what professionals in the industry do. To make it clear for you non-Hollywood types out there; inside-out acting is when an actor imagines that his or her clothes are inside-out and as the camera rolls, he or she feels bad because they’re not as attractive as they could be. This leads to crying faces or angry faces. So I quickly took off all my clothes and then turned them inside-out. I felt silly, but warm at the same time just like a movie star. Yes, I began to cry and from right beside me I heard, “Oh god, I can see through your acting.” Classic Meryl. Always a step ahead of the people in the room.

I turned and raised my hands in defeat, but the Actress wasn’t there. “Meryl, where d’you go?” I heard her loud and clear. Then I heard her again. “You silly man, I’m right here.” I couldn’t see anyone, anywhere. “You’re sitting on me.” As I lowered my head towards the leather couch, it hit me. Meryl Streep had shape shifted into furniture.

“Why are you a couch?” I enquired. The couch giggled at me and then magically transformed back into a Meryl Streep. KATHUNK. I fell right on top of her. Her laughter was contagious, only mine was polluted with questions “Why are you doing this to me?” “How is this not taking a toll on your body?” and “How are you holding my 165 pound body with your abs?” The actress’s eyes spoke to me once again, “Because I can, Mon.” That time Meryl responded with a Jamaican accent. She was just showing off. Meryl then sat cross-legged on the ground and gently pulled me towards her. I didn’t know what to do so I went in for a kiss. WHACK! She slapped me. “Sorry, I thought you wanted to kiss me?” “And you’ll just kiss any woman, even without having a moment?” She replied. I didn’t want to be rude. This was Meryl Streep. “Never mind that.” We sat across from each other, but perhaps because of the awkward moment, a chord of vulnerability was struck. Meryl Streep then confessed to me. “Du, I’ve been shape shifting into inanimate objects only for a week now and I feel very insecure about the next movie.”

But why would Meryl Streep need to shape shift into inanimate objects? I wanted to know. Meryl then let a tear drop form in her eye. It slowly rolled down her cheek and Meryl took that tear drop with her index finger and pushed it on my cheek. “Do you understand now?”  I really had no clue what this woman was getting at. Meryl Streep had no choice, but to break it down for me. It’s long, so I’ll break what she said down for you.

Meryl Streep was preparing for the role of a lifetime, not her lifetime. This was for the lifetime of cinema as we once knew it. Ms. Streep explained that cinema with rich stories were now polluted by posters and franchises with special effects. We might have gained from the digital revolution, but we have lost out in telling a human being’s emotional journey. There was depth with film, like painting with an oil canvas. The process today isn’t the same and for that reason above all, Meryl Streep had taken it upon herself to shape shift into objects so that she could start playing CGI characters. That’s right, Meryl Streep was going to be one of the Transformers in Transformers 4.

This woman was a genius. Stepping into the enemy’s skin was a method that has worked time and time again when conquering the enemy. Luke and Han Solo snuck inside the Death Star dressed as Storm Troopers. It was also the same method Dorothy and her friends used to enter Emerald City when they dressed up as flying monkeys. Or in Television, how Khloe Kardashian dresses up in drag on his sister’s show. The only difference now is; Meryl Streep was going to put on the enemies symbolic skin and take down the digital CGI industry from the inside. I told Ms. Streep how awesome she was to throw a role like that, by acting badly as a Transformer and making the movie fail for the sake of cinema. She quietly replied, “Well, I still want the movie to make money, so I’ll only tell everyone it was me after I win my next Oscar.” Fair enough, who was I to question a woman who could run for President.

As I sat on the ground across from Meryl Streep, I was unsure if the best actress in the world could pull off Gridlock as a character. Meryl must have sensed my fear because she then calmly announced her two most difficult movies, Kramer VS Kramer and Tootsie. “Tootsie, I asked?” I could have sworn that was Jessica Lange. Meryl laughed to herself and said, “No silly, I played Dustin Hoffman who played Michael Dorsey who played Dorothy Michaels.” I paused. Was this woman in front of me trying to tell me that she played an actor, playing a man on screen, that played a woman on screen that was also playing another woman on-screen within the screen. Meryl and Dustin have been friends since Kramer VS Kramer and they agreed to swap movies one day in the distant future. Apparently Mr. Hoffman played Meryl Streep playing Francesca Johnson in ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ and Hoffman’s only complaint was making out with Clint Eastwood. Not surprisingly, Dirty Harry uses too much tongue. Meryl further explained they made this swap-a-movie-deal on the set of Kramer VS Kramer happened right after they shot the playground scene together where the kid gets injured. “Playground scene?” I thought to myself. I was sure that scene was just Dustin Hoffman’s character and his son Billy Kramer. And then it hit me, Meryl Streep played not just Joanna Kramer, but the son, Billy Kramer too. Now that’s some serious talent. Playing Gridlock, the dinosaur slash Transformer would be chocolate cake.

So I read the script, which took seven minutes. It was basically the word KABOOM in Courier New, font size 72 on every second page. The scene Meryl and I chose was simple. I was playing an extra running away from the evil Transformer. I ran, screaming like a wuss. I looked behind and Meryl had vanished. What was chasing me was a giant Transformer Dinosaur. It breathed fire, destroying the entire living room. Man, this woman could act. I then, as the script suggested, fell on the ground. After a momentary stare down, KABOOM! Gridlock, I mean Meryl Streep was blasted off her feet. It was a massive fall and I ran to check on Meryl who had magically re-appeared. “Meryl, are you alright?” She looked up at me and giggled once again, like the girl next door. Then quietly and under her breath she said, “I think I got this.” I could feel her heart swell up right next to mine. Streep nailed the scene. She then thanked me for being her acting coach for the day. I could tell she genuinely appreciated my help because she paid me $100 an hour and also handed me one of her seventeen Oscars as a souvenir. Apparently Meryl had won these seventeen Oscars as five different actors. Incredible.

As we said our goodbyes, Meryl Streep told me one last little secret. I can’t tell you what it is, because it’s a secret. However, I will say this. It had something to do with no matter what role you play in life and what mask you wear, always remember one must feel from the inside-out. And with those words and a tear in my eye, I walked out with my clothes inside-out. 


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