Will Glenn Close's Big Screen Transformation In 'Albert Nobbs' Equal Oscar?

2:59 PM PST 09/08/2011 by Lauren Schutte, Patrick Kevin Day

The Victorian-era film could give its star major awards buzz. Here's the inside look at the physical transformation that's making it possible.

Could Albert Nobbs nab its main star a Best Actor Oscar at next year’s Academy Awards? Not possible, but close! Glenn Close, that is.

The actress is getting lots of awards-season buzz after her gender-swapping role as the titular Albert Nobbs in Rodrigo Garcia’s new movie which premieres at the Toronto Film Festival September 11.

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Close has been nominated five times at the Oscars, but has never won. Historically, stepping this far outside of the box has worked for others (see: Charlize Theron in Monster or Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose), so why not Close?

The film, set in 19th century Ireland, is about a woman who passes herself off as a man in order to work at an elegant hotel in Dublin. To pull it off, Close changed her voice, posture (Charlie Chaplin was an inspiration), and kept her eyes open wide. Even her fashion choices were affected. Close said her shoes were too big for her, her pants were too long and her suit was too roomy, to emphasize the character's discomfort in her own skin.

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The film has been a pet-project for Close since she first played the character on the stage in New York in 1982.

She also worked with a makeup artist to transform her features from feminine to masculine. Close said the 20 year gap between playing the character on stage and the start of filming added a "lived-in" aspect to her visage.

Some are saying this transformative performance, for which even her voice changed, is the actress’ best shot at the golden statue in years. The actress is so passionate about the project, she even co-wrote the adaptation. She told the Hollywood Reporter it was a very rare and tricky character to play because of her purity.  "I loved Nobbs because in her ignorance, she tries to create a life for herself," Close said.

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This isn't the first time Close has cross-dressed on film. She had a brief cameo in Steven Spielberg's Hook back in 1991. She was almost unrecognizable as pirate (she even wore a beard) who gets sentenced to punishment in Captain Hook's "Boo" box.

But Close hasn't given the only performance garnering awards buzz at this year’s festival.

Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender are getting good reviews for David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method. George Clooney is packing a double punch with The Descendents and The Ides of March and his buddy Brad Pitt stars alongside Oscar-winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Bennett Miller's Moneyball.

The festival, traditionally seen as an informal kick-off to the falls awards season, begins Thursday and runs through September 18.

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