Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep

Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep

by Michael Schulman


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A portrait of a woman, an era, and a profession: the first thoroughly researched biography of Meryl Streep—the “Iron Lady” of acting, nominated for nineteen Oscars and winner of three—that explores her beginnings as a young woman of the 1970s grappling with love, feminism, and her astonishing talent.

In 1975 Meryl Streep, a promising young graduate of the Yale School of Drama, was finding her place in the New York theater scene. Burning with talent and ambition, she was like dozens of aspiring actors of the time—a twenty-something beauty who rode her bike everywhere, kept a diary, napped before performances, and stayed out late “talking about acting with actors in actors’ bars.” Yet Meryl stood apart from her peers. In her first season in New York, she won attention-getting parts in back-to-back Broadway plays, a Tony Award nomination, and two roles in Shakespeare in the Park productions. Even then, people said, “Her. Again.”

Her Again is an intimate look at the artistic coming-of-age of the greatest actress of her generation, from the homecoming float at her suburban New Jersey high school, through her early days on the stage at Vassar College and the Yale School of Drama during its golden years, to her star-making roles in The Deer Hunter, Manhattan, and Kramer vs. Kramer. New Yorker contributor Michael Schulman brings into focus Meryl’s heady rise to stardom on the New York stage; her passionate, tragically short-lived love affair with fellow actor John Cazale; her marriage to sculptor Don Gummer; and her evolution as a young woman of the 1970s wrestling with changing ideas of feminism, marriage, love, and sacrifice.

Featuring eight pages of black-and-white photos, this captivating story of the making of one of the most revered artistic careers of our time reveals a gifted young woman coming into her extraordinary talents at a time of immense transformation, offering a rare glimpse into the life of the actress long before she became an icon.

Editorial Reviews

People (book of the week)

[A] rolllicking history of Streep’s early years...a love letter to a great actress and a behind-the-scenes study of iconic movies like Kramer vs. Kramer.

Tavi Gevinson

Her Again is not only a captivating biography but a look at the alchemy of great acting. Through comprehensive research and contagious enthusiasm, Michael Schulman celebrates Streep’s artistry while humanizing an icon.

Jane Alexander

A thoughtful and insightful chronicle of the early life and career of remarkable Meryl.

Peter Biskind

Talent attracts talent, and in Michael Schulman, Meryl Streep has gotten the biographer she deserves—canny, fluent, a pleasure to read, and perfectly suited to capturing America’s greatest screen actress on the cusp of her brilliant career.


Schulman’s balanced portrait of Streep’s unwavering dedication and demanding work ethic makes this a must-read for fans and aspiring actors.

Publishers Weekly

Schulman, a first-time author and frequent New Yorker contributor, draws heavily on interviews and archival materials to present an insightful portrait of the acclaimed actor at the dawn of her career. The book begins in 2012 with Streep winning her third Oscar, for The Iron Lady, and then backtracks to her early life, following Streep from her New Jersey upbringing to her time at the Yale School of Drama. Streep is lauded as one of her generation’s finest acting talents, and her development of her art dominates the narrative, but the author’s informal approach allows us to see a more down-to-earth and relatable side of the actor. We get to know Streep through her brief and impassioned relationship with character actor John Cazale, cut short by his death from lung cancer in 1978, and watch as she grapples with the shifting roles of women in the 1970s and develops her own identity as a feminist. Schulman concludes his book in 1980 with Streep accepting her first Oscar, for Kramer vs. Kramer, and appreciative readers will undoubtedly hope that a follow-up volume is in the works. Agent: Becky Sweren, Kuhn Projects. (May)


Schulman’s balanced portrait of Streep’s unwavering dedication and demanding work ethic makes this a must-read for fans and aspiring actors.

Christian Science Monitor

Schulman provides such vivid examples of the relentless sexism [Streep] faced…[He] also paints a vivid picture of Manhattan in the 70s when the streets were filled with garbage and the stars were DeNiro, Hoffman and Redford.

Paul Rudnick

Her Again is a beautifully observed, deeply affectionate portrait of an astonishing actress on the cusp of everything. It captures not merely Streep’s beginnings, but an era. A delightful, respectful, and essential book for anyone interested in Meryl, Hollywood, theater, or just being ridiculously, passionately young.

Financial Times (A Summer Pick of 2016)

[A]n admiring but frank Hollywood origin story. Following Streep in her long journey from New Jersey cheerleader to Oscar winner (her first for the 1979 film Kramer vs Kramer), this is above all a tribute to smart, steadfast professional judgment.

Associated Press

Michael Schulman shares delightfully entertaining stories surrounding Meryl Streep’s early rise to stardom in Her Again. . . . It’s an enchanting look into the intricate details of how a young girl from New Jersey became a force in the entertainment industry.’

Associated Press Staff

Michael Schulman shares delightfully entertaining stories surrounding Meryl Streep’s early rise to stardom in Her Again. . . . It’s an enchanting look into the intricate details of how a young girl from New Jersey became a force in the entertainment industry.’

Library Journal

★ 02/01/2016
Award-winning actress Meryl Streep earned the respect of both colleagues and audiences early on for the quality and variety of her performances. Schulman (arts editor, the New Yorker) focuses on her formative years throughout the 1970s, from youthful beginnings in New Jersey to Vassar and Yale School of Drama, to local and repertory theater, to acclaimed appearances in Joseph Papp's Shakespeare in the Park, on Broadway, and in such films as Manhattan and Kramer vs. Kramer. The author honestly and engagingly examines each component of Streep's professional development. Her personal life is woven into the narrative: a relationship with the late actor John Cazale; friendships in and out of the theater; struggles to define herself; marriage to talented sculptor Don Gummer. Schulman's research is thorough on all counts, including in-depth biographical material, vivid behind-the-scenes accounts of productions, and contextual background on the theatrical and social culture of the times. He describes people and events with a cinematic flair, providing deeper insights into Streep as a woman as well as a consummate professional. VERDICT This absorbing portrait of an iconic actress's early years is essential for Streep fans. It will also find a wide readership among those who enjoy theater and film.—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

Kirkus Reviews

An admiring portrait of a rising star. In his debut biography, journalist and New Yorker arts editor Schulman traces Meryl Streep's evolution as an actor from her childhood in suburban New Jersey to her breakthrough role in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). The first talent anyone recognized in Streep was her beautiful voice, acknowledged when she sang in a school concert at the age of 12. "It was the first time," writes the author, "she felt the intoxication of applause." Her parents sent her for singing lessons, but after seeing Beverly Sills in an opera, she realized that she was not good enough for the Met. Instead, she performed in high school musicals and, at Vassar, stunned a professor with her talent for drama. He cast her in a spate of plays, even choosing some because they offered Streep good roles. In 1972, when she auditioned for the competitive Yale School of Drama, she won easy admission. Classmates included Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Durang, and Wendy Wasserstein, who called the place "The Yale School of Trauma." The school's "special brand of crazy," writes Schulman, was created by its director, Robert Brustein. Despite the demoralizing atmosphere, Streep thrived. "Slowly but surely," writes the author, "the students began to realize that Meryl Streep could outdo them in almost everything." Drawing on theater memoirs, conversations with Streep's colleagues and friends, and heaps of interviews that Streep has given over the years, Schulman has fashioned a lively narrative of the actor's theater and movie work after she left Yale. The influential Joe Papp discovered her and cast her in productions in Shakespeare in the Park, Lincoln Center, and his own Public Theater. As her reputation grew, she was lured to movies, including The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer (for which she won an Oscar), and Woody Allen's Manhattan. Schulman's sensitive handling of Streep's personal life rounds out the portrait of a superbly talented woman. A brisk, gossipy, and entertaining biography.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062342850
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/25/2017
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 237,523
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

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