The actress jokingly branded her Hope Springs co-star with the term, before adding that he is "one of our greatest actors", according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Streep and Jones play a couple struggling to reignite the spark in their 31-year marriage in David Frankel's (The Devil Wears Prada) upcoming comedy.
"I heard somebody describe him in this movie as 'Fifty Shades of Grumpy'!" Streep said, "and I loved it. I said, 'I'm stealing that!'
"Tommy Lee is one of our greatest actors. He's a national treasure. He's an icon of manhood. And he's someone that will make men unafraid to enter this territory."
The film sees Streep and Jones's characters sleeping in separate bedrooms, until Streep's frustrated Kay insists they visit a marriage counsellor played by Steve Carell.
"[Meryl] and I really wanted Tommy to do [the film], and he's been in love with her from afar for his whole life," Frankel revealed. "Since he first saw her in New York 40 years ago.
"For him, (it was) an incredible opportunity just to sit on a couch with her and play these scenes and she felt the same way instantly. And she was in awe of his acting, honestly. Every day she was amazed at the depth of his performance.
"She's crazy about him and she kind of wanted him to steal the movie, which he almost does and that's pretty hard to do is try and steal the movie from Meryl Streep."
Streep has also praised Carell recently for his performance on The Office.
> Meryl Streep slams Hollywood's 'big tentpole failures'
Hope Springs is released today (August 8) in the US, and will reach UK cinemas on September 14.