Q&A: Glenn Close

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Glenn Close has been one of Hollywood's most respected actresses since bursting onto the scene in 1982's "The World According to Garp" and chilling audiences opposite Michael Douglas in 1987's "Fatal Attraction." In recent years, the five-time Oscar nominee and three-time Tony winner has been making an impression as attorney Patty Hewes on FX's "Damages," a role which garnered Close her first Emmy last year. And in December, Close was honored by The Hollywood Reporter with its Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at the annual Women in Entertainment breakfast. In advance of her receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Close invited The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni to her New York apartment to talk.

The Hollywood Reporter:: You were offered a role as a producer on "Damages" but you turned it down. Why?

Glenn Close: I've produced before. In some ways, I am the producer in that they wouldn't hire one of my major co-stars without me being happy about it. Because I'm very team oriented, it's important to me who everybody is and what kind of work they're doing. But I don't want that pressure (of producing).

THR: How much research did you do to play Patty Hewes?

Close: I met some key women who are at the top of their fields here in New York. They have the kind of intellect that I want (my character) to have. (But) I trust my writers. They're very assiduous about their legal stuff. When I'm working with them, what I love is really getting the precision of the (legal terminology) and then understanding it in a way that I can translate to the audience -- because If I don't understand it, they're not going to understand it.

THR: You've played strong women as diverse as the Marquise de Merteuil (1988's "Dangerous Liaisons) and Cruella de Vil (1996's "101 Dalmatians" and its 2000 sequel). Is there a through-line that connects them all?

Close: There's a certain kind of writing that I love. I know on the third page of a script whether it's writing I like. The only way I can describe it is that it's elegant. Nothing is overwritten. Not everything is on the nose. The actor is given room to have thoughts and secrets and complexities. That, to me, is interesting and just instinct on my part. I've taken jobs from just reading the script once.

THR: And sometimes they're not necessarily huge movies or starring roles.

Close: One of the best things I've done in my career is Eleanor of Aquitaine in (2003's) "The Lion in Winter" on Showtime, and not many people saw it.

THR: Do you feel like you have to pass on certain types of scripts if they're not going to bring in an audience?

Close: Predicting how something is going to do is risky in this business. You have to go for it. You have to be subjective. You pick something not because you think its going to bring you an award or make you a lot of money. You have to pick it because it has some sort of resonance with you as an artist. You have to have some sort of authentic connection with something.

THR: Someone of your stature doesn't need to work 13-hour days on a TV show. What is it that draws you to do it?

Close: I feel that I'm doing what I'm here to do. I'm lucky to be able to do what I love and what I'm good at. Giving it up entirely is a big deal. I don't know if I'll ever be ready for it but it gets harder and harder because you know what it will demand of you and there is a cost in your private life. You can't always be with the people you want to be with. I find it very costly, having been in this profession for 34 years. You can't have everything. You have to find some kind of balance and hopefully you can find the balance with somebody who understands and who supports you.
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