Meryl Streep is starring in summer blockbuster hits and banking big money at age 59—and isn't a bit surprised. ''I've worked hard, so this is what I expect,'' she tells Entertainment Weekly. Hollywood wisdom says female stars fall off the map at 40, to compete for the few eccentric mom roles. But with Devil Wears Prada and Mamma Mia!, Streep has shattered an old belief: that men won't pay to watch a film about a woman.
''She's the hottest actress in America,'' says Nora Ephron, who directed Streep's film, Julie and Julia, slated for release next year. Streep endured bad press for starring in mainstream flicks like She-Devil in the late 1980s, and admits that criticism "still hurts my feelings.'' But the unrepentant feminist is now bigger than ever. "And in so many ways," she laughs, leaning to one side to slap her backside.