ABSTRACT

During a fundraising visit to Belfast’s Old Museum Arts Centre, Meryl Streep entertained a question from a soft-spoken young Irishman who asked about her legendary ability to master a host of accents and dialects. How does she do it? he wanted to know. After a moment, she responded with a one-line answer delivered in a perfect, lilting imitation of his Irish brogue: “I less-ten.”1 Her response echoes something fairly often emphasized in discussions of acting, which is that there is an aspect of mimicry about it. An actor listens to others and channels what she or he hears into a performance that is realistic, is organic, and resonates with viewers as a result.