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PopEntertainment.com > Feature Interviews - Actresses > Feature Interviews A to E > Glenn Close

GLENN CLOSE

REACHING THE HEIGHTS

By Brad Balfour

Copyright ©2005   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: June 29, 2005.

Having reached the heights of the acting pantheon, Glenn Close found making Heights almost a walk in the park compared to some of her earlier groundbreaking roles in such films as Fatal Attraction and The Big Chill. But having established herself as a hard working actress, Close continues to take on challenges whether they be big budget blockbusters or small personal tales like this one where she plays a diva-esque star grappling with her daughter’s impending marriage.

Was it weird playing an actress, Diana, who's playing an actress that's doing Shakespeare in this film?

I was very self-conscious about the Shakespeare bit. I wanted to make sure the audience knew it was a technical rehearsal and not a performance level thing. We improved a lot in that.

Was your character based on anyone?

I really didn't base my character on anyone. I think there are certain actresses that have that kind of energy about them. Zoe Caldwell comes to mind, but she's not like Diana. She has that kind of life force.

Did you enjoy the opportunity of playing your character in a somewhat over-the-top fashion?

No, not really. Truthfully, I think that diva is a cliché. You think of an opera star as someone spoiled in a fur coat. You could say that [stage actress] Audra McDonald's a diva but she's not. It has a negative connotation. She is a diva if that means a larger-than-life performer. I would label a diva as someone whose talent doesn't match what they're trying to play, so all this temperament comes out. Temperament becomes the substitute for talent. For the hugely talented women that I've worked with or observed, it's not a question of temperament or ego. It's a question about just getting it right. If they have a reputation for being difficult, it's usually because the don't [take any bull]. When I hear that somebody's difficult, I say, "Oh, I can't wait to work with them."

How did you feel about your hair color in Heights?

I think it makes the part. The dark wig had very heavy, straight hair. I have light, frizzy hair. I have a brilliant wig maker that I've been working with for 13 years. He can do anything, and we thought to do something different.

What is the relationship between your character Diana and her daughter Isabel played by Elizabeth Banks (Spider Man, The Baxter)?

It was very well written. Because of Diana's past, Isabel was put in the parent position, and I was more of the child. When you see us in this movie, it's just getting to a different (place) where I'm becoming the parent. You have a feeling, as they progress, that they will have a new kind of understanding.

You worked with the late producer Ismail Merchant [of Merchant/Ivory, producers of such Oscar-nominated films as Remains of the Day and Howard’s End] on Le Divorce as well. Could you share with us any memories you have of him?

He was just the most seductive, passionate, outrageous, driven, genius of a man. You think of the incredible legacy that he and [director] Jim Ivory created together with [screenwriter] Ruth [Prawer Jhabvala]. He just made it happen. He could squeeze money out of a telephone poll, and I loved him for that. The last time I talked to him was a month and a half ago. I didn't know that he had those ulcers and went to the hospital during Le Divorce. I think it was a shock to everyone. The genius about Heights is that he [Merchant] recognized [director] Chris Terrio's talent. I first met Chris on the set of Le Divorce. He was interviewing everyone and doing our EPK and there was something delightful about him. He was certainly intelligent. It was Ishmail who picked up on his talent. He let Chris do his own movie. I'm sure they had big fights, but it's not a Merchant/Ivory film. It's a Chris Terrio vision.

Do you feel passionate about doing films in New York?

Absolutely. As wonderful as television show The Shield was, it made me realize that I have been, basically, sacrificing my life for my work. At this point in my career, I want it the other way around. I want to find work that fits into my life that will be based here. That [2004] was a great year for me, because I did The Stepford Wives, the thing with Sidney Lumet [Strip Search], and Heights, and it was all here. It was heaven.

How was your experience working on the LA cop show The Shield?

I had a great time on The Shield [she played Captain Monica Rawling]. First of all, I have a totally different view of law enforcement. My total inspiration for that part was deputy inspector Theresa Shortell down at the 6th precinct of Manhattan. I heard that they've added another [female] commanding officer since The Shield, but I don't know if that's true. Before I started, Theresa was the only female commanding officer [in New York City]. She's phenomenal. Here is a woman who is making a mark on law enforcement in Manhattan. Literally, she let me look into her closet, and there was Jones New York. I wear Jones New York on The Shield.

Did you play a part in defining your character?

I had discussions with the writers about whether she [Rawling] was married or not. I said, "How could she be married?" If she's married, she has to have a problematic marriage because I've heard that it's very hard for people in her position to do both. So we knocked that off. She didn't have a husband. She never had a relationship. This makes what Vic [played by Michael Chiklis] and I have together much stronger. 

Would you want cops like Vic out there?

He gets the job done. Everybody I've talked to in law enforcement says it happens. It's a very grey area. Vic is a brilliant cop, but he's very complicated. I don't think I would call him a bad man compared to some of the other guys. It's all grey.

Are you coming back next season?

I am not. My daughter's a senior in high school and I live here (New York), and there's no way I could be away like that. It was very hard. 

How do you feel when people (actors and directors alike) appear intimidated by you as a star?

I'm really very aware of that, because it puts you in a strange situation when you think that everyone is looking at every little thing you do. And you know that you're not that good. It's not good to be in a situation where people don't want to direct you or don't want to question something.

Do you think the better roles are reserved for the younger actresses?

Good roles are hard to find no matter what age.

Did you think your career would last this long? Did you ever have that expectation?

I never got into this business thinking I would be a movie star. I grew up running around the Connecticut countryside, pretending I was Hopalong Cassidy. I was always somebody else so that was an indication. Acting was always something I wanted to do. To me, it's about the incredible adventure of examining the landscape of human heart and soul. That's basically what we do.

When you made Fatal Attraction, did you know that Alex Forrest would become such an iconic character? And what did you feel about the changed ending of the film?

There came a point where we got really excited, because it was pretty special. Everyone was right on their game. It broke my heart to reshoot that ending. She was not a psychopath. She was a self-destructive, wounded creature. All the research I did showed that it was textbook behavior from someone who was molested at a very early age. She was very much a victim. When they tested the movie, people were so upset by her behavior. Americans like everything neatly wrapped up. They want to believe that family will survive. They were so upset that they, literally, demanded her blood. And they gave it to them. I fought against reshooting it. I didn't want to trash my character like that. It was very painful, but I learned that there's something about a catharsis that is very important. In some ways, I think the movie wouldn't have been as effective without this new ending, even though I didn't think it was true to the character. The audience was put to a point that, if you didn't give them some kind of catharsis, I don't know what they would have done. It would have been okay in Europe maybe, but not this country.  The [initial] script I read was seamless film noir. We [Alex and Dan Gallagher (played by Michael Douglas)] had the fight, his fingerprints are on the knife, she kills herself, she cuts her own throat with that knife, and Dan's taken off to prison. That was it. Then they introduced the tape with the wife [played by Anne Archer] and I'm saying, "I want to kill you." They tried to stack the cards against me, which wasn't totally fair to that character. But I think that movie has become a part of our culture. The term "Bunny Boilers" is now a part of our language. People still come up to me and say, "You scared the shit out of me!"

What's next?

Another little independent feature with a first time director that’s coming out in August, The Chumscrubber. It was a great piece of writing, a very dark comedy. I thought it was an original social satire. It made me laugh and scared me at the same time. Arie Posin, who directed and co-wrote it, like Chris Terrio, is an emerging talent. And I did a movie with Rodrigo Garcia called Nine Lives. I don't know when it's coming out but it premiered at Sundance. There are nine stories and each story is done in one continuous take. It made me proud to be an actor. Some of the work in that movie blew my mind.

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