Glenn Close Talks Growing Up in a Cult, ‘Albert Nobbs’ and Why She Loves Acting

Glenn Close is receiving rave reviews and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role in Albert Nobbs.  Close has been trying to make the film since 1982 when she starred in the play, and the part of a cross-dressing hotel waiter has remained close to her since then. 

In an interview with New York Magazine, Close said, “I think I always believed that there was something about that character which was universal.  I just sense that there are people isolated in the privacy of their rooms, going on Facebook.  That’s not who they are.  What we do to survive is fascinating: When we walk out the door, we put on a face.  For Albert, the stakes are just much higher.”

Close, who has been nominated for an Oscar five times, knows plenty about survival.  When she was seven, her parents joined a movement called Moral Re-Armament, which she stayed involved in until the age of 22.  Close admitted, “It was a cult, where everyone was told to think alike, and that’s devastating.” 

Her family struggled to remain together, and later, Close “decided that I would not trust even my instincts.  Because I didn’t know what they were.  Everything had been dictated.  It also gives you a huge sense of looking from the outside in, and I think that in many ways that has been very good as an actor, because you are somebody who is asked to go into a character…I always felt that I was held together with Scotch tape and paper clips, and as an actor that’s good.”

Close has shown off her skill of disappearing into her roles for decades, most memorably as bunny-boiling, lunatic Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction and fur-loving villainess Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians.  But Close has a hard time seeing these characters as the psychopaths they are.  She said, “I think what I love about being an actress is that you have the opportunity to explore the behavior—the whys of a character.  Why people behave a certain way.  You just say why, why, why, why.”

Since 2007, Close has taken on another part of a monster/go-getter with Damages’ Patty Hewes—one of the best written roles for a woman on TV.  Although quite different from herself, Close understands the woman she portrays whose choices are often morally questionable.  “She comes from my generation where she had to fight…So for all her machinations, I really like Patty.  You could say she’s acting like a man and getting censured for it.”

After playing Hewes, it’s easy to see why Close would still enjoy playing the alternate role of women—one that came before Hewes’ time in the spotlight.  Albert Nobbs was a woman still forced to live in the shadows of men.  She said, “I felt that it’s much more than just a story about this invisible person.  It ultimately for me comes down to the fact that I think we need, in order to have maybe a successful life, to start with a place of safety where you can have some sort of connection to another human being.”

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