Meryl Streep once again proves that she can take on anything with her latest role in the Netflix movie musical The Prom, which was adapted from Broadway by director Ryan Murphy. The star-studded ensemble film sees the Oscar-winning actress rapping as well as singing and dancing. While speaking to ET, she explains why she wasn’t afraid of the challenge and reflects on a time when she received a poor review similar to her on-screen counterpart.
“Oh, I rap all the time,” Streep muses when ET’s Rachel Smith asks her about adding the title to her resume. “I freestyle when I’m just at home.”
In The Prom, Streep plays aging Broadway star Dee Dee Allen, who alongside fellow thespian Barry Glickman (James Corden), is the subject of bad reviews as their latest show turns out to be a major flop. To rehab their image the pair teams up with two other struggling theater actors, Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells), to travel to Indiana, where high school student Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) has been banned by the head of the PTA (Kerry Washington) from taking her girlfriend, Alyssa (Ariana DeBose), to the prom.
While Streep has several standout musical moments, from the opening number “Changing Lives” to her solo showcase “The Lady’s Improving,” her most-buzzed-about song comes at the end of the film. Written specifically for the adaptation, Streep can be heard rapping lines like, “Gotta wear your crown or your tiara / Now is the time to bust out the mascara,” in the celebratory closer, “Wear Your Crown.”
“I was so [excited] that they wrote this song. It was really a bonus because I thought we had sung all the songs in the show and then this one came along,” Streep says of the number written by Adam Anders and Peer Astrom, who previously worked on Glee, and the show’s original writers Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar. “And I was just so, so excited to do it. It was so fun.”
Later, in keeping with the film’s themes about bad reviews, Streep opened up about the one that stuck with her the most.
“I remember Pauline Kael was a very famous critic [for The New Yorker] who wrote a very bad review of a film I did called Sophie's Choice,” the actress says of the 1982 Holocaust film. “And she said that I should giggle more and cry less. And I’ve taken that criticism to heart. And I sort of agree with her [but] it was inappropriate for that film it seems to me that criticism.”
In the end, however, Streep walked away with the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of Polish immigrant Zofia "Sophie" Zawistowski. In total, the actress has won three Oscars and has been nominated 21 times, the most for any performer. And if Streep earns enough acclaim for playing Dee Dee, she could extend her record to 22 next year.