Watch Meryl Streep Have Fun with Accents: Bronx, Polish, Irish, Australian, Yiddish & More

Meryl Streep, fre­quent­ly hailed as one of our Great­est Liv­ing Actress­es — she claims there’s no such thing — com­mands a near-ency­clo­pe­dic mas­tery of accents.

Oth­ers may pre­pare for their roles by work­ing with a dialect coach or lis­ten­ing to tapes of native speak­ers, but Streep push­es to the lim­it, as indi­cat­ed in the con­ver­sa­tion with author Andre Dubus III, below.

She not only learned Pol­ish in order to play a trou­bled Holo­caust sur­vivor in Sophie’s Choice, she thought deeply about the way gen­der roles and peri­od inform vocal pre­sen­ta­tion.

Clear­ly a lot of effort goes into the per­for­mances that leave British crit­ics cheer­ing Streep as she sails above play­ing fields lit­tered with Amer­i­can actors who dared attempt Eng­lish accents.

Her com­mit­ment to her craft is inad­ver­tent­ly to blame for pop­u­lar­iz­ing the phrase “dingo’s got my baby.”

How refresh­ing that this ver­sa­tile and accom­plished actor is not pre­cious about her skills. She game­ly trot­ted them out for the come­di­an Ellen DeGeneres’ par­lor game, above. Looks like fun, pro­vid­ed one’s not an intro­vert. Each play­er draws a card labelled with an accent, sticks it to the brim of a sil­ly hat, then tried to guess the accent, based on her partner’s impromp­tu per­for­mance.

“Brook­lyn?” Streep gig­gles when the Louisiana-born DeGeneres has a go at Boston.

Her stab at the Bronx shows off her improv chops far bet­ter than the most recent stunt DeGeneres roped her into.

(For what it’s worth, Ben Affleck also excelled at this game. The late Robin Williams was less con­vinc­ing, but char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly irre­press­ible, even when called upon to imper­son­ate speak­ers of oth­er races.)

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and low bud­get the­ater impre­sario. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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