Glenn Close
Photo by Stephen Lovekin

Glenn Close: “My passion is exactly the same”

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Short Profile

Name: Glenn Close
DOB: 19 March 1947
Place of birth: Greenwich, Connecticut, United States
Occupation: Actor

Glenn Close stars in season two of Tehran, out now via Apple TV+.

Ms. Close, is it true you’ve kept pieces from each costume of every character you’ve played?

Yes, it’s a living collection, there are over 800 pieces! I think it started with the love of the characters that those costumes represent and the time spent in the fitting room, putting those characters together. Because for me, the costume designer is as important as the director: you spend time literally figuring that out. It is absolutely right at the heart of the process of creating a character. So I have most of the costumes from Fatal Attraction, from 101 Dalmatians, from Sunset Boulevard I even have costumes from my very first movie as Jenny Garp.

Those are such iconic roles you’ve listed. Why do you think you’re so good at playing these kinds of complex women?

I don’t know! They are the ones that fascinate me the most. I think those kinds of women who maybe are conflicted, they are interesting. And basically that is where we all live, we all live in the gray area of life. No one is all right or wrong or all black or white. Everyone is hiding their real thoughts and their real feelings. That’s where the fascination comes from, because I think they are true. And my journey as a craftswoman in my profession is to find where my common humanity is with them, and as an actor, you cannot judge them.

“You have to find out why they behave the way they do and and hopefully it will give you empathy. And for me that has been an unbelievable journey with every character that I have played.”

How come?

Well, if you judge them, you are not portraying them honestly. So you have to find out why they behave the way they do and come to some understanding about that and hopefully it will give you empathy about who they are. And for me that has been an unbelievable journey with every character that I have played, including Marjan Montazemi on my new series Tehran, who was all new territory. I read it and I saw the first season and I thought, “Of course I want to do it!”

Apparently you even learned Farsi for this role.

I wish I had six months to prepare! But my goal was to speak Farsi well enough so that a Farsi speaking person would think I was fluent. I got as far as being able to pronounce all the words pretty well, my accent I think was pretty good. But I couldn’t translate it as I was saying it, so it was a series of sounds, and some sentences were more difficult than others. And then you have to make sure that you have the right intonation and emphasis on the right word, even though you have no idea what it is. (Laughs) So after studying for two months, I got there.

This role was the first time you’d worked in television in almost 10 years.

Yes! I remember meeting with the heads of F/X about doing The Shield back in the early 2000s, and I said I don’t want to do a TV series. But they were so intelligent and so compelling. And I said, “Well, okay!” and it was a fantastic experience. And these days, I have all these wonderful possibilities and it makes me laugh because I am 75 — it’s great! I think it’s thrilling, I mean, Apple TV+ alone has 20 foreign shows. It’s where we are. We have this incredible opportunity to connect around the world, it is fantastic. It shows we have a chance now for people to look into other cultures, to hear different languages and to hopefully understand each other better.

You were one of the first Hollywood stars to even make a move to television back in the eighties. How was that experience?

Television and movies back then were totally different cultures. At the time my agent said it will ruin your movie career, because I had only done one movie, The World According to Garp. I was offered a TV film called Something About Amelia. And it was about a family where the father was having incest with the daughter. I read the script and it was brilliant and I said I have to do it. And so I said, “I don’t care, the English do it, why can’t we?” (Laughs) And that has always been my answer, the English do it. I did it way back then! I tried to mix it up my entire career because I have great respect for television, and theater as well, which is where I started.

“I am still voraciously curious about exploring different characters. I have gotten a much deeper knowledge of what it is to be a craftsperson as an actor.”

Is your passion for acting still as strong as it was back then?

I think my passion is exactly the same! I think I am still voraciously curious about exploring different characters. I think I have gotten a much deeper knowledge of what it is to be a craftsperson as an actor. It’s harder for me to leave home these days. I now live in a place where my entire family is, which is phenomenal at this point in my life…

That’s in Montana, right?

Yes, my sister married a man who worked for the Game and Wildlife there and she was the first one to go there. And then my brother and my older sister moved out when my parents passed away. Then I bought a house there too and now I am just across the yard from my younger sister! So on set, I am always thinking, “When can I go home?” But I still have enough curiosity and passion to go away from home to do something that I think will be interesting and fulfilling.

Does that curiosity mean you’ll only take on new and challenging roles, even now that nostalgia seems to play an important role in Hollywood?

You know, I think it would be interesting if all of us who were in The Big Chill got all back together. We have talked about it with Larry Kasdan and I think everybody would want to! But the other side of it is just let it be because it was just a seminal movie and our beautiful Bill Hurt is no longer with us. But that is the only one I’d really consider, because for me that was such an important movie. It was my second movie and I learned a lot. Larry Kasdan was a wonderful director and we formed this company, we have stayed friends all these years… It doesn’t matter if we don’t see each other, it doesn’t matter, because when we see each other, we go so far back. It’s really wonderful.