Meryl Streep takes on Donald Trump at Golden Globes
Meryl Streep accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday. NBCUniversal
BY ADAM HOWARD, NBC News
(NBC News) - Meryl Streep took dead aim at the controversial rhetoric and behavior of President-elect Donald Trump in her Cecil B. DeMille Award speech at the 74th annual Golden Globes — without ever mentioning him by name.
It wasn't long before she drew a rebuke from the incoming Commander-in-Chief.
Streep, who was a passionate supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, used her platform (where she was being honored for her lifetime achievement as a film actress) both to defend Hollywood against charges of elitism and to call for people in the performing arts to remain resilient and proactive in the face of intolerance.
"Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners," Streep said after describing the diverse backgrounds of some of her acting contemporaries ("Where are their birth certificates?" she asked pointedly).
"So if you kick them all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts. And that is not the arts," she said.
Although the president-elect told the New York Times early on Monday that he did not watch the telecast, he called Streep a "Hillary lover" and said that he was "not surprised" he'd been the subject of anger and butt of jokes by "liberal movie people."
The "Florence Foster Jenkins" star also called out Trump's infamous mimicking of a disabled New York Times reporter earlier last year, which many have argued was a deliberate attempt to mock members of that community. Trump has denied mocking the reporter.
"It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I can't get it out of my head, because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life," Streep said. "And this instinct, to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.
"Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose," she added. "We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage."
She called on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (which organizes the awards) and the audience to support the Committee to Project Journalists and ended her emotional speech with a tribute to Hollywood performers' ability to convey empathy through their work.
"As my friend the dear, departed Princess Leia said to me once, take your broken heart and make it into art," Streep concluded, in reference to the late Carrie Fisher.
Early on Monday, Trump directly responded to Streep's speech on Twitter, calling the 67-year-old three-time Oscar winner and eight-time Golden Globe winner "over-rated," an insult several people on social media had predicted.
Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a.....
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas appeared to come to Streep's defense early on Monday, tweeting: "Entertainment figures have the right to use their fame to express political opinions; we have the right not to patronize them."
And while Streep's address was the most prolonged political statement of the night, it wasn't the only one. Although perpetually peppy host Jimmy Fallon called for Sunday's awards to be a "celebration" of the arts, there was a bit of a political elephant in the room — and it was Trump.
Fallon, who has been dinged in the past for being too soft on the future president, took a few swipes at Trump during his opening monologue, comparing him to the villainous King Joffrey from "Game of Thrones" while saying the Globes ceremony was "one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote."
Still, the more pointed political commentary came during the acceptance speeches.
Tracee Ellis Ross, a winner for best actress in a TV comedy for "Blackish," dedicated her victory to "all the women of color and colorful people whose stories ideas thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important."
"I want you to know we see you — I see you," she added.
Trump attacked "Blackish" when it made its debut back in 2014, tweeting: "How is ABC Television allowed to have a show entitled 'Blackish? Can you imagine the furor of a show, 'Whiteish'! Racism at highest level?"
Earlier Sunday, a promo for a coming episode of "Blackish" rolled out, portraying the characters' negative reaction to Trump's victory.
Meanwhile, Hugh Laurie, a winner for his performance on the TV mini-series "The Night Manager," took direct aim at Trump and his supporters, without mentioning him by name.
"I'll be able to say I won this at the last ever Golden Globes," he said in reference to concern over Trump's controversial rhetoric on nuclear proliferation.
"I don't mean to be gloomy, but it has the words 'Hollywood,' 'Foreign' and 'Press' in the title. I also think to some Republicans even the word association is slightly sketchy," Laurie added.
"I accept this award on behalf of psychopathic billionaires everywhere," he joked later.
Bryon Howard, one of the directors of the blockbuster animated film "Zootopia," also appeared to make a veiled reference to Trump, when he said: "We wanted 'Zootopia' to be a film that not only entertained kids but also spoke to adults about embracing diversity, even when there are people in the world who want to divide us by using fear."
And surprise winner for best actress in a drama, Isabelle Huppert ("Elle"), echoed Streep's sentiment that Hollywood's — and by extension the world's — strength was its diversity.
"There are people from all over the world here in this room," the French actress said in her acceptance speech. "From China to the Arabic world to Europe, do not expect cinema to set up borders."