Fact Check

Is This Meryl Streep Riding the Subway After Failing an Audition?

The Academy Award-winning actress was supposedly deemed too "ugly" for what would have been her debut film role.

Published Sept. 18, 2019

 (Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com)
Image courtesy of Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com
A photograph shows actress Meryl Streep riding the subway after failing an audition for "King Kong."

In late 2015, a "Meryl L. Streep" Facebook page posted the following item and photograph about the actress' supposed experience auditioning for the 1976 film "King Kong" and being told that she was too "ugly" for the role:

This post was based on an underlying truth: During a January 2015 appearance on "The Graham Norton Show," Streep described how at the beginning of her film career she was up for role of the female lead in a mid-1970's remake of "King Kong," produced by Italian filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis. De Laurentiis' son, having spotted Streep in a play, brought her to meet his father for consideration for the role. At that meeting, according to Streep, the elder De Laurentiis asked his son in Italian, "Why do you bring me this ugly thing?" to which Streep replied, also in Italian, "I'm sorry I’m not beautiful enough to be in 'King Kong'":

However, the Facebook post reproduced above departed from literal accuracy in several aspects:

  • It did not originate with Meryl Streep herself, but with a (since deactivated) fan page.
  • The wording of this post does not reflect what Streep herself said about the incident (i.e., she didn't maintain that she responded to De Laurentiis' insult by proclaiming, "I'm sorry you think I'm too ugly for your film, but you're just one opinion in a sea of thousands, and I'm off to find a kinder tide").
  • The photograph of Streep did not capture her riding the subway on her way home from the failed "King Kong" audition. The picture of her used in the Facebook post was taken several years later, in 1981.
  • Meryl Streep does not have "18 Academy Awards." She had received 18 nominations at the time this Facebook post appeared, but she won the award in only three of those instances.

The role that Streep missed out on went to another relatively unknown actress of similar age making her big screen debut, Jessica Lange.


Alexander, Harriet.   "Meryl Streep Told She Was 'Too Ugly' to Act in King Kong."     The Telegraph.   11 November 2015.

Petersen, Anne Helen.   "How a Fake Quote and Old Image of Meryl Streep Went Viral." BuzzFeed News.   15 November 2015.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.