Glenn Close on the Importance of Close-Ups in Film and Why She Feels at “Home” On Stage


“If you can’t hold an audience from the stage, you’ve lost something in your craft” – Glenn Close

Glenn Close has been nominated seven times for an Academy Award, including this year for Best Actress for The Wife. And while Close has yet to win an Oscar (she even holds the record of being the actress with the most nominations without a win), most would agree that she doesn’t need an Academy Award to define her skill as a great actress. Close recently participated in an interview at NPR station KCRW in Santa Monica, California where she spoke about the importance of close-ups in acting on film, but also revealed that she feels more herself acting on stage.

Though Close is also an accomplished stage actress (she is a three-time Tony Award winner), she notes one significant difference between acting on film and other types of acting. She explains, “Film is the only art form that has the close-up. And the close-up, when you think about it, is the human face showing emotion. And I’ve learned over the years that the close-up, well done, is what keeps the audience emotionally involved.”

To provide an example of how close-ups convey emotions, Close cites a scene in one of her earliest movies — The Big Chill. She recalls, “It was just my second film, and it was in the scene where I am talking to JoBeth Williams‘ character about the affair that I had had with the man who had just committed suicide. And I realized during that scene that what was not being said was powerful — and that film is so intimate in moments like that, that you can trust them.”

With that said, Close says that she feels more at “home” acting in live theater. She explains, “That’s because, I mean, to me that’s like the essence of the craft, and if you can’t hold an audience from the stage, you’ve lost something in your craft. I just finished — I did 14 weeks at the Public Theater in New York, played Joan of Arc’s mother. And that — oh my God. Every night, having to bathe my daughter to be taken off to the stake — it was exhausting, but thrilling. Because it was an intimate theater, the audience was this close, and you can’t fool anybody, you know? You gotta come up with the goods eight times a week. And you know, you get back there, and I thought: Well, I still got it; I still can do it. Gotta check up every now and then.”

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