The iconic Glenn Close can truly be anything– sensual or plain, mother or mistress, Shakespearean or fantastical, cruel or kind. Last night, the Museum of the Moving Image recognized Close’s versatility and quiet brilliance by honoring the famed actress and producer at their annual gala Salute.
Close’s expansive decades-long career in film, tv, and theatre is staggering even to Close herself. “I still feel 18,” Close joked on the red carpet. Close counts her first film–a role that landed her an Oscar nomination– The World According to Garp among her most memorable works, alongside The Big Chill, Fatal Attraction, and Dangerous Liaisons. Close’s second screen title, the 1984 TV movie Something About Amelia about sexual abuse, is also close to her heart. “I think it was the first TV [show] that actually had a hotline afterwards. I was proud to be part of that,” Close said. Her hit show “Damages” is another television highlight: “that was an amazing ride.”
Close has made a splash this season with the critically-acclaimed The Wife, portraying the stifled partner of a Nobel Prize-winning author. The story of gender roles within a marriage intrigued Close, drawing a personal connection from the star. “It was kind of the story of my mom’s generation, and certainly my mom,” Close mused. “She was a brilliant woman who had all kinds of potential. She basically sublimated herself to my dad and to her family and yet didn’t have any personal fulfillment. We can nurture our kids and we can support our husbands but we also have to fight to have personal fulfillment to have a full life.”
Guests applauded Close’s celebrated roles, from The Big Chill, The Natural, Sarah Plain and Tall, Albert Nobbs, and 101 Dalmatians, among others. The theme was clear: Close’s characters are always strong and independent, and The Wife is no exception.
Fellow actors showered the star with praise, from the ever-charismatic Ethan Hawke introducing Close’s “electrifying” performance in The World According to Garp to a video tribute from Michael Douglas admitting her audition for Fatal Attraction was the “bravest and most powerful I’ve ever seen and I’ll never forget.” Former co-stars and friends Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Walken, Tate Donovan, and Kevin Kline added to the celebration.
Broadway veteran Jim Dale reminded the audience of Close’s theatre triumphs and multiple Tony Awards. Since sharing the stage for the musical “Barnum,” Dale considers Close–or “Glenny” as he lovably calls her–a lifelong friend. “Over the years Glenny not only blossomed but she really took over the whole garden,” Dale explained. “I’ve just been blown away by the talent this lady has.”
Other Broadway costar Bob Balaban joked that Close created the term “bunny boiler,” now found in the Oxford Dictionary, after her turn in Fatal Attraction.
Close’s The Wife costar Christian Slater introduced the star to accept her award. “She is a tour of tour de forces,” Slater gushed. “I was privileged to be part of The Wife with her.”
The six-time Academy Award nominee was as graceful and beautiful as ever, thanking the “incredible institution” of the Museum of the Moving Image for the honor. “This is actually a very emotional event for me,” Close admitted during her acceptance speech. “Getting an award like this in the town where I started means a lot. To see my friends as part of this tribute– I was just thinking that those of us in this profession, we make these amazing friendships because we go through a journey where we have to trust each other immediately. My fellow actors, you have to trust to go to the places you are asked to go to. And that trust, the intensity of that experience for me and for all the people that you’ve seen– [Bob] Balaban and Jim [Dale] and Christian [Slater]– we will be friends for life because it creates a bond that is unbroken and time doesn’t matter because we experienced something phenomenal together. So the first thing I want to do is thank my friends who were in all these movies and plays with me. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Close credited past directors for believing in her during moments “devoid of inspiration,” from István Szabó (Meeting Venus) to Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction), Stephen Amis (The Real Thing) and Björn Runge (The Wife). “I’ve always thought of myself as a meat and potatoes actress,” Close humbly stated. “It’s because I’ve had so many brilliant people constantly whispering in my ear that I’m here today.”
Close also thanked costume designers and makeup artists, most notably Albert Nobbs wigmaker Martial Corneville, as “invaluable collaborators in creating characters.”
Yet Close, with the grace and wit expected of a queen, emotionally revealed her awe at the honor itself. “It’s humbling and kind of confusing trying to figure out what to say when given an award like this,” Close admitted. “I don’t feel wise or particularly insightful. If anything I feel more aware of the fragility of it all.”
Close took a similar approach to Dangerous Liaisons director Stephen Fears when he was asked about his stylistic choices with the film. “The fact that my very subjective choices that seemed like a good idea at the time have actually added up to a body of work that matters to people is something that I’ll never get used to,” Close tearfully admitted.
Close also spoke to the Museum of Moving Images’ Teen Council who was in the audience. “[It’s] important in a city wherein a lot of our schools we don’t have arts at all. That’s important, and what you say is important. Your lives and your voices matter because you’re going to change the world,” Close said.
Close closed the ceremony with meditations on her career. “The most precious things we have is time and our lives are the sum of how we choose to spend it and with whom,” Close explained. “For me, the process is everything– choosing projects I believe, involving people who I can’t wait to spend time with, to play, to try to get it right. That is the ultimate luxury. To be given an award like this for something that already makes me so deeply happy and fulfilled is truly an embarrassment of riches.”
The Museum of Moving Images series “Getting Close: Ten Great Performances by Glenn Close” presents screenings of Close’s iconic roles. Visit http://www.movingimage.us for more information.