Sometimes we meet people on our way who leave a huge mark on our hearts. They become part of us, and when they leave, we remember them forever. Before Meryl Streep married Don Gummer in September 1978, she was in love with another man, whose death she barely survived.
First Love – John Cazale
Young Meryl had just entered the glamorous world of Broadway when she met her first love. In 1976, she met John Cazale at rehearsals for Shakespeare’s playMeasure for measure“. Both of them at that time shone in the world of New York theaters.
John Casale appeared in films at the same time as his friend Al Pacino, playing Fredo in The Godfather and waking up world famous. After this role, he became snapped up by directors.
Michael Schulman, book author “Meryl Streep: She Again”, described Casale as a perfectionist in the profession:
“He was meticulous at work, sometimes crazy.” And Al Pacino claimed that he received acting lessons by watching Casale.
Meryl Streep was fascinated by an actor who did not seem to fit the character of the 70s movie with his lean build, high forehead, large nose and sad dark eyes.
“He was not like everyone else. He had humanity, curiosity and responsiveness, ”the actress recalled.
Development of the novel
The novel developed rapidly. The 29-year-old actress was madly in love with 42-year-old Casale and immediately moved in with him, in his loft in New York’s Tribeca district. They felt like they were on top of the world, they were stars and a very unusual couple.
“They were nice to look at because they both looked pretty funny,” described playwright Israel Horowitz. “They were nice in their own way, this pair of two ugly men.”
Death of Casale
In 1977, Casale fell ill and, to everyone’s horror, was diagnosed with lung cancer with multiple metastases.
In his memoirs, Michael Schulman wrote:
“John and Merrill are speechless. The diagnosis struck her the most. But she never gave up, and she certainly did not despair. She raised her head and asked, “So where are we going to have dinner?”
Casale’s desire to act in films for the last time made Streep take part in the film in order to constantly be with him. It was the Deer Hunter who won five Oscars. Director Michael Cimino recalled filming:
“I was forced to refuse the role of the dying Casale and they threatened to close the picture. It was terrible. I spent hours talking on the phone, shouting, cursing and fighting. “
Then De Niro intervened, and Casale was approved.
Although Meryl Streep wanted to quit her job and take care of her beloved, growing medical bills did not allow her to leave the cinema. The cancer hit Casale’s bones, and he practically could not move. Streep later said:
“I was always there that I didn’t even notice the deterioration.”
In March 1978, John Casale died. In the last minutes, Meryl was sobbing on his chest, and for a moment John opened his eyes.
“It’s okay, Meryl,” he said in a faint voice his last words to her. – Things are good”.
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