Oscar Profile #429: Glenn Close Revisited

Born March 19, 1947 in Greenwich, Connecticut to Bettine (née Moore) and William Taliaferro Close, a doctor who ran a clinic in the Belgian Congo and served as personal physician to the Congo’s president, Glenn Close has long been considered one of our greatest actresses. Her paternal grandfather was first married to cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Her maternal grandmother’s sister was actress Brooke Shields’ great-grandmother.

Raised from the age of 7 as part of the Moral Re-Armament sect, Close broke away at 22 to attend the College of William and Mary where she majored in drama and anthropology. She made her Broadway debut in 1974 and earned the first of four Tony nominations in 1980 for Barnum. Subsequent Tony nominations for The Real Thing; Death and the Maiden and Sunset Boulevard would all result in wins.

Close made her film debut as a feminist author in 1982’s The World According to Garp for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Her second and third films, 1983’s The Big Chill and 1984’s The Natural also brought her nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Starring roles in 1985’s Maxie and Jagged Edge kept her profile high, but it was 1987’s box office smash, Fatal Attraction that would make her a major film star. That and 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons brought her back-to-back Oscar nominations for Best Actress.

Although she kept busy on screen as well as stage over the next eight years, only her Sunny von Bulow in 1990’s Reversal of Fortune brought any awards talk. Then in 1996, she had another megahit as Cruella de Vil in Disney’s live-action version of the classic 101 Dalmatians and its 2000 sequel. She also scored a hit as the Vice President in 1997’s Air Force One and garnered excellent reviews for 1999’s Cookie’s Fortune. Her starring role in a 2001 TV production of South Pacific was also highly successful.

Since 2005, Close’s TV career has tended to overshadow her film work. She earned an Emmy nomination as the no nonsense police captain in The Shield. She subsequently received four Emmy nominations and two wins for Damages, the series she headlined from 2008-2012. She also received her sixth Oscar nomination for 2011’s Albert Nobbs, during the run of the show which tied her with Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter as the most nominated actresses never to win.

Close returned to Broadway in the 2014 revival of A Delicate Balance and reprised her 1995 Tony award winning performance in Sunset Boulevard in 2017. Her more recent films include 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, 2017’s Crooked House and 2018’s The Wife for which she received her seventh Oscar nomination. Having already won the Golden Globe, the Broadcast Critics Award and the SAG award, she is the prohibitive front-runner for the Oscar.

Married and divorced four times, Glenn Close has been single since 2015. She remains a vibrant star at 71.

ESSENTIAL FILMS

FATAL ATTRACTION (1987), directed by Adrian Lyne

Close’s Alex Forrest is a stalker who won’t leave Dan Gallagher, the married man she had a one- night stand with, alone. An enormous success in its day, the film’s title has ever since been a euphemism for similar incidents in real life. The film’s six Oscar nominations were a tribute to its enormous success rather than its quality, but the one nomination that was indisputable was Close for her fierce performance, one of the best of her extraordinary career. Her co-star Michael Douglas was nominated and won the year’s Best Actor prize for Wall Street.

DANGEROUS LIAISONS (1988), directed by Stephen Frears

Close’s tough-as-nails portrayal of Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil in the first English language film of Chodelos de Vaclos’ Les Liaisons Dangerouse may be the best thing she’s done on screen. Although it earned her the fifth of her seven Oscar nominations to date, it’s the only film for which she received a BAFTA nod until this year’s The Wife. Close stands out as the bored, troublesome and eventually shunned aristocrat in an exceptional cast that also includes fine performances from John Malkovich, Michelle Pheiffer, Uma Thurman, Keanu Reeves and Mildred Natwick in her final film.

ALBERT NOBBS (2011), directed by Rodrigo Garcia

Close waited for decades to recreate a role she once played on stage, that of a turn of the last century woman who lives a man in order to succeed in life even in the smallest of ways. Close’s perfect performance, though, is quite possibly for the first time in her career upstaged by another actor the great Janet McTeer who turns in an even more astounding performance as another woman pretending to be a man. The film features exquisite period detail and an outstanding supporting cast that also includes Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Taylor and Pauline Collins. It brought her a sixth Oscar nomination.

DAMAGES (2007-2012), created by Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman

Close’s personal favorite of all her roles was long thought to be the landmark TV character Patty Hewes for which she won two Emmys and a Golden Globe. Although Close has never shied away from playing bad girls, she has never played one quite as bad as Patty, a rich and successful lawyer who wins cases no matter the cost. She’s backed by a powerful supporting cast led by Rose Byrne as her protégée; Tate Donovan as her eventual partner; Zachary Booth as her estranged son and Ted Danson, William Hurt, Martin Short, Campbell Scott and Lily Tomlin among the many guest stars playing villains even more vile than Patty.

THE WIFE (2018), directed by Bjorn Runge

It took 14 years for Close to bring Meg Wolitzer’s novel to the screen, but the wait seems to have been worth it considering all the awards the actress has won and continues to win as the current awards season rolls along. Close is at her best as the wife who lives in the shadow of her Nobel Prize-winning husband. More than the muse she is credited with being for inspiring him, or the proof reader her children believe her to be, she has been the actual writer whose books have been published in his name. It’s Close’s show, but she is ably supported by Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Harry Lloyd and Annie Starke.

GLENN CLOSE AND OSCAR

  • Nominated Best Supporting Actress – The World According to Garp (1982)
  • Nominated Best Supporting Actress – The Big Chill (1983)
  • Nominated Best Supporting Actress – The Natural (1984)
  • Nominated Best Actress – Fatal Attraction (1987)
  • Nominated Best Actress – Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
  • Nominated Best Actress – Albert Nobbs (2011)
  • Nominated Best Actress – The Wife (2018)

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