Meryl Streep in Rare Company with 3rd Oscar

Only three other actors have won three Oscars, and only one has ever won four

Meryl Streep joined a very exclusive club on Sunday, winning her third acting Oscar for her role as a strident Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."

Streep, 62, won best actress for her 17th Oscar nomination, the most times any performer has been nominated by the Academy.

Her third win put her in a category with other three-time Oscar winners Jack Nicholson, Walter Brennan and Ingrid Bergman. Only Katharine Hepburn with four wins had more.

She joked about how many times she's been up for acting's highest honors.

"When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, 'Oh no... her again,'" Streep said.

Streep played the British prime minister as a senile retiree, as well as a hectoring, dominant figure who instilled fear and respect in her own cabinet. At the film's pinnacle, Streep as Thatcher is the backbone of a nation that goes to war over the distant Falkland Islands after Argentina invades in 1982.

She thanked her fans "for this inexplicable wonderful career" and paid special tribute to her husband, sculptor Don Gummer.

Streep also called out for special mention her "other partner," J. Roy Helland, who has done her makeup since 1982 in "Sophie's Choice," the movie that won Streep her first best actress award. Streep also won for best supporting actress for the 1979 movie, "Kramer vs. Kramer."

Makeup artist Helland won earlier in the night, sharing the award for best makeup with Mark Coulier.

Streep said backstage that when she first saw herself in old-age makeup, "I saw my dad."

"Maybe my dad looked like Margaret Thatcher."

But she and the makeup crew gradually reduced the amount of rubber prosthetics until she looked more like herself.

"I had become acclimated to not looking at Margaret Thatcher in the mirror. It was me. That was important to me," she said. "At that point in the process of creating a character, I had morphed in my head and my heart with her."

Streep continued to joke backstage that she was surprised that Academy voters looked past "Streep-fatigue" to vote for her again, and quoted from a poem she had read recently to describe how it felt.

"It's as strange to be here once as it is to return," she said. "That is true."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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