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Stars & the City: Glenn Close

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |

“I came to New York when I arrived from college in 1974. I came here to seek my fortune and become an actress. So this is where I began.”

Glenn Close stars in the new film The Wife with Jonathan Pryce and Christian Slater. In the film, based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel of the same name, Close plays Joan, wife to her famous novelist husband Joe (Pryce). Married for nearly forty years, Joan sacrifices her career, watching from the sidelines as Joe’s star continues to rise.  However, everything is about to change as Joe is awarded the Nobel Prize for his brilliant body of work. The Wife has serious Oscar buzz for Close, who is a six-time Academy Award nominee. (She also has three Tony and three Emmy awards.) The film also stars Annie Starke, Close’s real-life daughter, who plays young Joan. Next month, Close returns to the stage as Joan of Arc’s mother in Mother of the Maid at the Public Theater. Close plays a hard working peasant woman whose faith is turned upside down as she deals with her extraordinary daughter’s journey.

Glenn Close at the premier of her new film 'The Wife' (Photo: Marion Curtis/Starpix)

Glenn Close at the premier of her new film 'The Wife' (Photo: Marion Curtis/Starpix)

What do you love about your character in The Wife, Joan? 
Glenn Close
: I love her secrecy. I love playing characters who have a chance of not always articulating what they are feeling. When my daughter was auditioning for young Joan, and putting scenes on tape for our director (Björn Runge), she later told me what Björn had told her. He said “Feel everything and show nothing.” So, in many ways, that is what Joan has learned to how to do, until she can't anymore.  

What was it like having your daughter in the film, playing a younger version of your character? 
Glenn Close
: It was wonderful having her part of the production and with all of us in the hotel in Glasgow, and also being around the table when we were spending that week to dig deep. When she was actually working, they shot the early part of the film first. I got bodily out of town. I thought, “She does not need her mom.” I didn't even want her to bump into me in the hallway. I thought, “That is her thing. Her experience.”

Did you always think Annie was destined to perform?
Glenn Close
: Yes. She has been incredibly imaginative. Annie has an amazing sense of humor, and I observed little things in her when she was little.

You are about to appear in Mother Of The Maid at the Public Theater. Can you talk about making your Broadway debut when you were right out of college? 
Glenn Close
: The play was Love for Love, directed by Hal Prince, with the New Phoenix Repertory. I was the understudy, and Mary Beth Hurt was also in the cast. Since then, she has been my best friend.  Hal put me in the lead before we finished previews. So it was trial by fire. And yet, with the Phoenix Rep, it was a three-play season. When that particular show was over, I went back up to my little 4th floor dressing room. It was a profound lesson to learn (in) the first job of my career.

You have played so many eclectic characters, and inhabit them so fully and deeply. When the curtain comes down or you wrap the film, how do you get back to Glenn? 
Glenn Close
: The joy of acting in that exploration is using my imagination. So it depends. The two hardest characters to get away from were Norma Desmond – well, the first time I played her – and also (Alex in) Fatal Attraction. I really felt empathy for that character. It took me a while to physically and emotionally get over that.

What do you love to do when you are not working? 
Glenn Close
: I love being with my family. I love to be in nature and with my little dog. And I love to read.

What do you adore about New York City? 
Glenn Close
: I never take enough advantage of what we have in the city. I should go to everything more. But I try to see friends and have good walks. I'm not a terribly social person.  

I came to New York when I arrived from college in 1974. I came here to seek my fortune and become an actress. So this is where I began. New York is a very special place for me. I have always lived on the East Coast, and I’ve always liked the energy of New York. It’s a challenging place to live, but it’s also a creative place. New York has an incredible vibe and creative buzz. 
For more of the best of New York, check out our list of Top Shows in August 2018.

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