Tracey Ullman, Robert De Niro, Mike Nichols, Kevin Kline, Anne Hathaway Paid Tribute to Meryl Streep at Kennedy Center

By Andrew Gans
06 Dec 2011

Oscar and Tony winner Mike Nichols spoke next: "Meryl becomes a different person in each movie, body, soul and all. She stands alone as an actress. She could handle any part thrown at her except maybe Gidget. She's the definition of versatility which makes her a nightmare as a dinner partner… the fact is I have no idea how she does it, I only know that watching it is one of the great experiences of my life. Frankly, I'm not sure she knows how she does it. If she does, we'll never get it out of her. She simplified it for me when she told the only thing I ever heard her say about it: 'Well, you know. You never know what you're going to do 'til you do it.' Best description of movie acting I ever heard."

Nichols then introduced a tribute to Streep, beginning with Academy Award and Tony Award-winning actor Kevin Kline, who co-starred with Streep in "Sophie's Choice." "Meryl doesn't take shortcuts. In her work, she insists on going the extra mile. Sometimes literally. We were doing our first dress rehearsal of Mother Courage at the Delacourt Theater in Central Park. After 12 grueling hours of rehearsal in the sweltering heat in our winter-weight costumes – Meryl giving 110 percent, perfecting what would become a bravura performance, it's now midnight, I'm exhausted, we all are. I'm hailing a cab to take me three blocks to my house. And I see Meryl climbing on a bicycle. Now Meryl lives at the other end of Manhattan, about six miles away from Central Park. I tell her she's crazy as she peddles off into the dark New York streets and she yells over her shoulder, 'I have to build up my stamina!'"

Golden Globe Award-winning actress Emily Blunt, who starred in "The Devil Wears Prada" with Streep, then took the stage, along with Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor Stanley Tucci, who further extrapolated upon Streep's many virtues.

Emmy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway, who also starred in "Prada" with Streep, concluded the tribute by singing "She's Me Pal," joined by her fellow actors.

Recipients honored at the 34th annual national celebration of the arts also included Tony winner Barbara Cook, singer and songwriter Neil Diamond, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins. To read about the tribute to Barbara Cook, click here.

The Honors Gala was recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 34th consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on Dec. 27 at 9 PM ET.

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