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The Major Impact Robert De Niro Had On Meryl Streep's Acting Career

Robert De Niro is one the most celebrated actors of our time, and we can count the equally lauded Meryl Streep as one of his many fans. De Niro first burst onto the scene in the early 70s with early acclaimed performances in John D. Hancock's "Bang the Drum Slowly" and Martin Scorsese's breakout film, "Mean Streets." The eight-time Academy Award nominee has left quite the legacy in his career, which also includes bizarre transformations into characters and helping other A-listers land iconic roles.

Meryl Streep carries an equally impressive resume. The record 21-time Academy Award nominee has done it all, from appearing in heartbreaking classics like "Kramer Vs. Kramer" and cult classics like "Death Becomes Her," to inspiring a character on "Stranger Things" and disappearing in a voice role on "The Simpsons."

During the start of her career, Robert De Niro had a major impact on Streep. So, Streep introduced De Niro at a 2022 gala that took place in the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, highlighting the 65th anniversary of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum, has held De Niro's personal archive since 2006. In 2022, in honor of the actor, the center inspired a new endowment, the De Niro Curator of Film.

Meryl Streep was wowed by Robert De Niro's early performances

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Meryl Streep captivated an Austin audience with her introduction, sharing with them how Robert De Niro inspired her during her career. She began by telling a story which took place before she began working as an actress. Streep went with her friends to check out the film "Bang the Drum Slowly" because a mutual friend from college, Michael Moriarty, was starring in it. She recalls the group was quite taken by someone else in the cast. She said, "We all agreed that the kid they found in the South, non-actor, [was] clearly [a] non-actor, [gave an] incredible performance. We thought they must have scoured Appalachia to find this guy."

Shortly after that, the same group of friends went to check out the film "Mean Streets," and found that the same actor they were focused on during the last movie they saw was in this film too — and he was nothing like the character he played in "Bang the Drum Slowly." Streep said, "He's a New York punk ... and we were blown away. We scoured the credits and saw his name." She continued, "He's Robert De Niro. He's an actor. And it really blew me away."

Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep share a mutual respect

Meryl Streep recounted that over her long career she has been asked which actresses she emulates and admires. After listing all the great actresses who inspired her, she added, "The second time I saw Robert De Niro, I said to myself, that's the kind of actor I wanna be. That's what I wanna do. And I wanna do it with the commitment and the passion and the skill and the beauty with which he applies to it. And he's been my beacon for 50 years."

According to Entertainment Tonight, De Niro shared similar sentiments about Streep (who he shared the screen with in 1978's "The Deer Hunter and in 1984's "Falling in Love") during a different 2018 gala presentation. When introducing her at the event, he said, "Thank you for being an actress who plays the most interesting characters with full commitment and without judgment." He continued, "Meryl doesn't seem to have any imperfections." The actors seem to share so much mutual respect for each other, and appear to have had a major impact on each other.