Glenn Close: Close Call
"Maxie was your first flop."
"You know, I played two roles in that film, a modern woman and the spirit, that inhabits her body. I think now that it was a mistake to play both characters. They should have used a young, coltish girl to play the spirit, so you would have seen the two of us trying to come together."
"Glenn, believe me, they could have used a real colt and it wouldn't have made a difference. But then came your breakthrough role as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction. This was the first truly sexy woman you ever played. She is so etched into the national psyche that it's a miracle that men still cheat on their wives ..."
"You know, everyone else thought of Alex as a maniac, but I thought of her as damaged. I thought it was so obvious, when she says to Michael Douglas, 'If you can't fuck me, you might as well just hit me ...' that she was obviously an abused woman. I figured that people would have some sympathy for her. Shows you what I know."
"I remember when I read that script, it had such a better ending than the one you finally filmed ..."
"Don't get me started," says Close. "The original ending was a gorgeous piece of film noir. She kills herself, but makes sure that his prints are all over the knife, and he gets arrested. He knows he didn't do it, but he's going to jail anyway. But audiences wanted some kind of cathartic ending, so we went back months later and shot the ending that's in the movie now."
"You were nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. Who'd you lose to?" "Cher," says Close, with no apparent irony.
"Cher? In Moonstruck?"
"Yes. And I understood it. Because those awards are always for so much more than that one film. And Cher has this mystique, and she had made a sort of comeback, and people were rooting for her."
"So then you played the Marquise in Dangerous Liaisons."
"We filmed in France." says Close. "And I had given birth to Annie seven weeks before we started preparing for the film. For the first time in my life, I had these great breasts. It'll never happen again, but for one brief, shining season, I had the most incredible breasts. James Acheson, the costume designer, who won the Oscar this year for Restoration, did the costumes, and I just loved it because they pushed my breasts up and made me have cleavage. I guess I should be saying something more intellectual about the film, but I just remembered how great it felt to have those breasts."
"Don't worry, we don't push for the intellectual. Anyone who wants to talk about their breasts is welcome to do just that. Then you sort of went back to saintly in Immediate Family."
"In that film, James Woods and I adopt the baby of Mary Stuart Masterson and Kevin Dillon, but then they lake it back. The film was about open adoption, where you meet the mother of the child before she has the child. But I think a lot of people thought it was about surrogate motherhood, which had been getting a lot of bad press."
"Sounds plausible." I say, "but I think the reason the movie failed is that nobody could imagine anybody even considering letting James Woods adopt their child."
Close rolls her eyes. "Could be," she says with a giggle.
"So then you played Mel Gibson's mother in Hamlet. She was certainly one of the most deranged mothers in stage or screen history."
"It just struck me that Gertrude was a woman that these three amazing men are totally enthralled with, Hamlet, Claudius, and the ghost, her husband. And because Mel and I are so close in age [nine years apart], I figured that I was the political bride, brought to the court at age 12, marrying this warrior king, and she probably had a baby at 14 or so. And it's like she had grown up with her child, and it was all very sensual to her. And she's not a rocket scientist. She's a very sensual woman who had never had a really full sexual experience because her husband was so old, he was more like a father figure. So when Claudius comes into her life it's like, wow, and she's just quivering. And she takes touching her son for granted, because that's the way it's always been. But he's become a man."
"I remember that scene where she kisses him on the lips and he just gets so uncomfortable..."
"Yeah. And she doesn't get it."
"Then you played Sunny von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune. For most of the picture, you're lying in a coma! It's not the kind of part that usually wins raves, but you really brought her to life, so to speak..."
"Thank you. But I take issue with my performance. If I could do it over, I would play Sunny not so tightly wound. I think I played her wrong, but of course I didn't know it at the time."
"Hook?" I say, holding up my notes. "I don't remember you in Hook."
At that exact moment, Close's daughter Annie pops her head into the library.
"Come here, sweetie," says Close, introducing us and hugging Annie. After a little chit-chat, Annie settles into a lounge chair and starts writing in her journal.
''You can stay here if you're very quiet." says Close. "Where were we?"
"I'm in the scene where Dustin [Hoffman] first comes on, and he's haranguing the pirates and I'm the pirate that they throw into the boo box."
"What's a boo box?" asks Annie before I can.
"Remember the box that they put the scorpions into?"
"Why?" asks Annie, beating me to the punch again.
"To punish me. I don't know, he thinks I betrayed him."
"Do you die?" asks Annie, and I'm thinking she might be better at this than I am.
"Well I guess in the boo box I didn't have a good time. But it was all pretend, honey. It wasn't real."
Annie rolls her eyes. "I know that, mommy, but did you die?"
"No," says Close. "That's one movie that I didn't die in."
Silence, while I wait for Annie to ask about Meeting Venus. When she doesn't, I do.
"It was a great experience," says Close. "I went to Budapest and the director was the great Istvan Szabo, and the cast was kind of the cream of different Eastern European and European countries."