On Tuesday night, Jake Gyllenhaal took the stage at the Berinale Palast for one of the main events of the Berlin International Film Festival: The feting of Meryl Streep.
"When I was asked to present the Honorary Golden Bear to Meryl Streep -- one of the greatest actresses to ever grace the silver screen," Jake Gyllenhaal said onstage at the event -- which took place before the German premiere of "The Iron Lady" -- "I was surprised and flattered."
Gyllenhaal joked that after days of pondering he ultimately decided to do it because it was an opportunity to resolve "some personal issues" between himself and Streep. Gyllenhaal explained that before he knew of Meryl Streep the actress, he knew her simply as "Hank's mom." It seems Jake and Streep's eldest son Henry "Hank" Gummer were teenage pals.
"To be frank," he said. "Meryl Streep was not too fond of the 13-year-old version of me. Back in the early 1990s, Hank and I were going around in our baggy pants and listening to the rap artists of the day -- like Warren G and Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg -- pretending to be gangsters. In truth, and it may come as a great surprise to many of you, we were actually just wussies. But for some reason Meryl didn't take a liking to me and didn't really trust me with her son. As we all know from her work, Meryl Streep has a real capacity to be terrifying. We've all seen 'The Devil Wears Prada.'"
Streep joined Gyllenhaal on stage -- after a seemingly endless standing ovation from the crowd -- and called a truce.
"He was a bad influence on my son," she began. "I remember the first time I met him and he and my son were pretending to be bartenders at his big sister Maggie's birthday party -- which was a cabaret in the basement of their house. They were serving cokes and lemonade, they said. They had little red suits on and fake mustaches, and I'm so glad to see that Jake can grow his own now.
"But Jake Gyllenhaal is the son of the splendid screenwriter Naomi Fomer and director Stephen Gyllenhaal so he comes by his show business pedigree honestly.
But he's also inherited his parents' grace and I thank him so much doing this for me."
Streep then started into one her characteristically classy and clever acceptance speeches.
"The only reason I'm here tonight, truthfully," she said, "is because of the inspired artistry of people that I've worked with. Many of whom are no longer here to receive my thanks. I think of Joseph Papp, Karel Reisz, Harold Pinter, Fred Zinneman, Alan Pakula, Sydney Pollack, Robert Altman... Some of the great writers and directors on whose shoulders I've been placed here tonight. I never forget how grateful I am for that."
Streep then thanked her "Iron Lady" director Phyllida Lloyd (who was in attendance) and "all the other writers and directors who are still living after working with me."
"We all know how unfair it is that you do all the work, and I get all get the glory," she said to a huge laugh from the audience. "But I'm grateful for every moment of inspiration you've given to me."
Streep paid tribute to the festival and "the great mecca of art that is the city of Berlin" before affectionately dedicating the honor to one man in the audience -- Roy Helland, who has been Streep's makeup and hair artist for decades.
"Roy has worked with me since my first play in New York more than 35 years ago," she said. "The first film we did together was 'Sophie's Choice.' And he has designed every woman -- and one man, in 'Angels in America' -- that I've played every since then. And two nights ago, Roy won his first award -- the BAFTA -- for makeup and hair. Pretty soon you'll see why he won."
"The Iron Lady" is screening out of competition at the festival, and Streep -- who also just won a BAFTA -- is aiming for Oscar no. 3 with the film in just over a week.