Meryl Streep recounted how she was changed by her own harrowing experiences with physical violence during a speech to journalists Wednesday night.
The actress spoke at the Committee To Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Awards, where she thanked the assembled crowd for their work. Streep praised reporters for their bravery in what she called the most “dangerous time to be an investigative reporter.”
Streep emphasized how journalists, especially female journalists, have been her heroes, as she she does not feel like a naturally brave person herself.
The actress spoke about her two experiences with physical violence.
“I learned something about life that I wouldn’t have known otherwise and I was lucky because my instincts served me well,” Streep said in her speech. “In one instance, I played dead and waited until the blows stopped — watching like people say you do from about 50 feet above from where I was beaten.”
The second incident, Streep recounted, was when she witnessed violence and decided to step into the situation. Streep said she was with Cher when she saw a thug attacking a woman. The actress said she “went completely nuts” and chased the man off.
Cher, who was in the 1983 film “Silkwood” with Streep, once said that the pair saved a girl from a mugger in New York City.
“But I was changed by these events on a cellular level because women do know something particular about coming to the danger place,” Streep continued.
Streep ended her speech by referencing her upcoming movie “The Post,” where she plays former Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham, and discussing women’s limited role in the industry in the past.
The actresses saluted the “special bravery” of the female reporters who dug into difficult stories.
Watch Streep’s full speech in the video above at the hour-and-38-minute mark.