- March 19, 1947 (age 74)
- Actor, Film Producer, Voice Actor
- Cabot Wade (1969–71) James Marlas (m. 1984–87) David Shaw (m. 2006; div. 2015)
- William Taliaferro Close, Bettine Moore Close
Glenn Close (born March 19, 1947) is an American actress. Throughout her career, she has been consistently acclaimed for her versatility and is widely regarded as one of the finest actresses of her generation. She has won three Emmy Awards, three Tony Awards and received six Academy Award nominations.
Close began her professional stage career in 1974 in Love for Love, and was mostly a New York stage actress through the rest of the 1970s and early 1980s, appearing in both plays and musicals, including the Broadway productions of Barnum in 1980 and The Real Thing in 1983, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Her first film role was in The World According to Garp (1982), which she followed up with supporting roles in The Big Chill (1983), and The Natural (1984); all three earned her nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She would later receive nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performances in Fatal Attraction (1987), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), and Albert Nobbs (2011). In the 1990s, she won two more Tony Awards, for Death and the Maiden in 1992 and Sunset Boulevard in 1995, while she won her first Emmy Award for the 1995 TV film Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story.
She starred as Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 2003 TV film The Lion in Winter, winning a Golden Globe Award. In 2005, she starred in the drama series The Shield. Then from 2007 to 2012, she starred as Patty Hewes in the FX drama series Damages, a role that won her a Golden Globe and two Emmys. She has voiced the character of Mona Simpson in the animated sitcom The Simpsons since 1995. She returned to Broadway in November 2014, in a revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. Her other films include Jagged Edge (1985), Hamlet (1990), Reversal of Fortune (1990), 101 Dalmatians (1996), Paradise Road (1997), Air Force One (1997), Cookie's Fortune (1999), Nine Lives (2005) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
Close is a six-time Academy Award nominee, tying the record for being the actress with the most nominations never to have won (along with Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter). As of 2016, Close is the only living actor with the most Oscar nominations without a win. In addition, she has been nominated for four Tonys (three wins), fourteen Emmys (three wins), thirteen Golden Globes (two wins), two Drama Desk Awards (one win) and eight Screen Actors Guild Awards (one win). She has also won an Obie award and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards and a BAFTA. Close has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
Early life and family
Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut on March 19, 1947, the daughter of William Taliaferro Close, a doctor who operated a clinic in the Belgian Congo and served as a personal physician to Mobutu Sese Seko, and socialite Bettine Moore Close. She has two sisters, Tina and Jessie, and two brothers, Alexander (nicknamed Sandy) and Tambu Misoki, whom Close's parents adopted while living in Africa.
Her father was a descendant of the Taliaferros of Virginia; her paternal grandfather, Edward Bennett Close, a stockbroker and director of the American Hospital Association, was first married to Post Cereals' heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Close is also a second cousin once-removed of actress Brooke Shields (Shields's great-grandmother Mary Elsie Moore was a sister of Close's maternal grandfather, Charles Arthur Moore, Jr.).
During her childhood, Close lived with her parents in a stone cottage on her maternal grandfather's estate in Greenwich. Close has credited her acting abilities to her early years: "I have no doubt that the days I spent running free in the evocative Connecticut countryside with an unfettered imagination, playing whatever character our games demanded, is one of the reasons that acting has always seemed so natural to me." When she was seven years old, her parents joined a "cult group," the Moral Re-Armament (MRA), in which her family remained involved for fifteen years, living in communal centers. Close has stated that the family "struggled to survive the pressures of a culture that dictated everything about how we lived our lives." She spent time in Switzerland when studying at St. George's School in Switzerland. Close traveled for several years in the mid-to-late 1960s with an MRA singing group called Up With People, and attended Rosemary Hall (now Choate Rosemary Hall), graduating in 1965. Although Close came from an affluent background, she stated that her family chose not to participate in their WASP-like society. She would also avoid mentioning her birthplace whenever asked because she did not want people to think she was a "dilettante who didn't have to work."
When she was 22, Close broke away from MRA, attending the College of William & Mary, and double majoring in theatre and anthropology. It was in the College's theatre department that she began to train as a serious actor, under Howard Scammon, W&M's long-time professor of theatre. During her years at school in Williamsburg, she also starred in the summer-time outdoor drama, "The Common Glory," written by Pulitzer Prize author Paul Green. She was elected to membership in the honor society of Phi Beta Kappa. Through the years, Close has returned to W&M to lecture and visit the theatre department. In 1989, Close was the commencement speaker at W&M and received an honorary doctor of arts degree.
Professional debut (1974–79)
Glenn Close started her professional stage career in 1974 at the age of 27 and her film work in 1982 at 35. During her senior year of college, Close became inspired to pursue a career in acting after watching an interview of Katharine Hepburn on the The Dick Cavett Show. The following day she called her school's theater department to be nominated for a series of auditions through the University Resident Theatre Association and TCG. Eventually she was given a callback and hired for one season to do three plays at the Helen Hayes Theatre, one of those plays being Love for Love directed by Hal Prince. She continued to appear in many Broadway and Off-Broadways in the 1970s and early 1980s. Close made her television debut in 1975; it was a small role in the anthology series Great Performances. In 1979, she filmed the television movie Orphan Train and Too Far to Go. The latter film, included Blythe Danner and Michael Moriarty in the cast, Close played Moriarty's lover. In 1980, director George Roy Hill discovered Close on Broadway and asked her to audition with Robin Williams for a role in The World According to Garp, which would become her first film role.
Breakthrough in Hollywood (1982–89)
The 1980s proved to be Close's most successful decade in Hollywood. She made her debut film performance in The World According to Garp which earned Close her first Oscar nomination. She played Robin Williams' mother, despite being just four years older than him. The following year she played Sarah Cooper in The Big Chill, director Lawrence Kasdan, said he specifically wrote that character for her. The movie received positive reviews and was a financial success. Close became the third actor to receive a Tony, Emmy, and Oscar (Academy Award) nomination all in the same calendar year after the release of The Big Chill. In 1984, Close was given a part in Robert Redford's baseball drama The Natural, although it was a small supporting role she earned a third consecutive Oscar nomination. Close, to this day, credits her nomination to cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, stating ''That hat was designed so the sunlight would come through. We waited for a certain time of day, so the sun was shining through the back of the stadium. And he had a lens that muted the people around me. It was an incredibly well thought-out shot. And I honestly think that's the reason I got nominated.'' Close also starred opposite Robert Duvall in the drama The Stone Boy (1984), a film about a family coping after their youngest child accidentally kills his older brother in a hunting accident.
Eventually, Close began to seek different roles to play because she did not want to be typecast as a motherly figure. She starred in the 1985 romantic comedy Maxie, alongside Mandy Patinkin. Close was given favorable reviews and even received her second Golden Globe Award nomination, but the movie was critically panned and under-performed at the box office. In 1985, Close starred in the legal thriller Jagged Edge, opposite Jeff Bridges. Initially, Jane Fonda was attached to the role, but was replaced with Close when she requested changes in the script. Producer Martin Ransohoff was against the casting of Close because he said she was "too ugly" for the part. Close eventually heard about this and said she didn't want Ransohoff on set while she was making her scenes. Director Richard Marquand stood by her side and sent Ransohoff away. Infuriated, Ransohoff went to the studio heads trying to get Close and Marquand fired from the picture. The studio denied the action stating they were pleased with their work in the film. Jagged Edge received favorable to positive reviews and grossed $40-million on a $15-million budget.
In 1987 Close played the disturbed book editor Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, which was the role that propelled Close into stardom. The movie became a box-office success and the highest-grossing film worldwide of that year. The character of Alex Forrest has been considered one of Close's most iconic roles, the word "bunny boiler" has even been added to the dictionary, referencing a scene from the movie. During the re-shoot of the ending, Close suffered a concussion from one of the takes when her head smashed against a mirror. After being rushed to the hospital, she discovered, much to her horror, that she was actually a few weeks pregnant with her daughter. To this day, Close said watching the ending makes her uncomfortable because of how much she unknowingly put her unborn daughter at risk. Close stated in an interview that, "Fatal Attraction was really the first part that took me away from the Jenny Fields, Sarah Coopers—good, nurturing women roles. I did more preparation for that film than I've ever done." Close received her fourth Oscar nomination for this role and also won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture Actress.
In 1988 she played the scheming aristocrat The Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons. Close earned stellar reviews for her performance and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. In addition, she received her first BAFTA nomination but did not win. Close's final film role of the decade was Immediate Family (1989), a drama about a married couple seeking to adopt a child. Producer Lawrence Kasdan had Close star in the film, as he directed her previously in The Big Chill.
Established actress (1990–99)
In 1990, Close went on to play the role of Sunny von Bülow opposite Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune to critical acclaim. The film drew some controversy since it dealt with the Claus von Bülow murder trial, while the real Sunny von Bülow was still in a vegetative state. Sunny's children also publicly criticized the movie. In the same year, Close played Gertrude in Franco Zeffirelli's film adaption of Hamlet. It was the first Shakespeare role that Close had ever attempted on screen (she appeared in 1975 in a stage production of "King Lear", in Milwaukee). Close would later go on to join the cast of The House of the Spirits, reuniting her with Jeremy Irons. She also had a cameo appearance in Steven Spielberg's Hook (1991) as a pirate. In 1992, Close starred in Meeting Venus for which she received critical acclaim and won Best Actress (Golden Ciak) at the Venice Film Festival. In the same year, Close became a trustee emeritus of The Sundance Institute.
Close appeared in the newsroom comedy-drama The Paper (1994), directed by her good friend Ron Howard. She insisted on doing more comedies but felt that she struggled in this role saying, "I have to criticize my performance in that movie. It all took place in one day. My character was having a bad day, so she's having a bad day throughout the whole movie. But this was a comedy, and I think I was too serious, too dense." She would go on to appear in the alien invasion satire Mars Attacks! (1996) as The First Lady and as the sinister Cruella de Vil in the Disney hit 101 Dalmatians. Close's portrayal of Cruella de Vil was universally praised and earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a comedy. The film was also a commercial success, grossing $320.6 million in theaters against a $75 million budget. The following year, Close appeared in another box office hit with Air Force One (1997), playing the trustworthy vice president to Harrison Ford's president. Close would later star in the war film Paradise Road (1997) as a choir conductor of the women imprisoned by the Japanese in World War II. In 1999, Close provided the voice of Kala in Disney's animated film Tarzan. She later went on to receive great reviews for her comedic role as Camille Dixon in Cookie's Fortune (1999).
Acting style and legacy
Close is regarded as an extraordinarily versatile actress with an immersive acting style. In 1995, Close guest starred on Inside the Actors Studio to discuss her film career. James Lipton described her as an actor who "can find an outstanding number of layers in a role or a single moment; Close is a supple actor who performs subtle feats." Close credits the theatre for the acting skills she developed, "To me, it's where you really develop as an artist. I have a huge respect for film acting, but onstage, you don't have editors and you don't have sound people. You don't have the close-up. You're out there with your fellow actors and the audience. It's a chemical mixture that's happened for centuries!" Close is also professionally trained by acting coach Harold Guskin, who also taught Kevin Kline and James Gandolfini. Working with Guskin, Close learned several important lessons, which she said she's applied to her career as well as her life. One such lesson, she claims, was to remember to breathe and let it all go, "You have to maintain a certain openness, and if you don't maintain that, you lose something vital as an actor. It's how we're wired, and it's not a bad thing." Close says that in order to continue to learn her trade she went to every rehearsal.
On method acting, she claims that while she found it interesting to work with those types of actors, it was not her preferred style. She told James Lipton in an interview that she thinks it's "cheating" if she has to draw upon her own feelings. However, she admitted to using this technique for some scenes in The House of the Spirits and Fatal Attraction. Although Close does extensive research and preparation for her roles, she also relies less on the technicality of a performance saying, "Good acting I think is like being a magician, in that you make people believe; because it's only when they believe that they are moved. And I want people to get emotionally involved. I think technique is important but it isn't everything. You can have a great technical actor who'll leave people cold. That's not my idea of great acting. As audience, I don't want to be aware of acting." Longtime collaborator and playwright, Christopher Hampton describes Close an actress who can very easily convey "a sense of strength and intelligence." Hampton worked on Sunset Boulevard and the stage production of Dangerous Liaisions, Hampton later cast her in the movie version. "Glenn is often described as having a glacial or distant quality about her, but in person she's the absolute opposite: warm and intimate," says the actor Iain Glen, who co-starred with her in the 2002 stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire. "She was able to bring strength to the role, so it became more of a contrast when she lost touch with reality. It was more moving. I'm sure that's why she was drawn to the role, to show different qualities that perhaps people were less familiar with. She was able to completely access that vulnerability. There was a real softness to her.
However, Close is praised for her more "villainous" roles than her soft and nurturing ones. Her character in Fatal Attraction was ranked #7 on AFI's 100 years...100 heroes and villains list. Regarding her role in the series Damages, The New York Times remarked "There is no actor dead or alive as scary as a smiling Glenn Close." Journalist Christopher Hooton also praised her saying, "Christopher Walken, Glenn Close, Al Pacino, and many others have a surprising danger in them. They're a little scary to be around, because you feel they might jump you or blow up at you at any time. They are ticking time bombs." Film historian Cari Beauchamp has stated, "When you look at the top 10 actresses of the past 80 years, since sound came in, first you have Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and Meryl Streep – but I think Glenn Close is definitely in that list, it's a combination of her guts, in the roles she chooses, and her perseverance. Frankly, she's taken roles that are more challenging than a lot of other people."
On January 12, 2009, Close was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. As of 2016, films featuring Close have grossed over $2.4 Billion worldwide. She is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
From 1969 to 1971, Close was married to Cabot Wade, a guitarist and songwriter, with whom she had performed during her time at Up with People. She dated actor Kevin Kline briefly in the early 70's, they would later reunite in the film The Big Chill (1983). From 1979 to 1983 she dated Broadway actor Len Cariou. She was married to businessman James Marlas from 1984 to 1987. Soon afterwards, she began a relationship with producer John Starke, whom she had previously met on the set of The World According to Garp. In 1988 the two had a daughter together, Annie Starke, who is currently an aspiring actress. They separated in 1991. She dated Canadian NHL player Cam Neely and actor Woody Harrelson in the early 90's. Close met Harrelson after co-starring together in the play Brooklyn Laundry. In 1995 Close was engaged to carpenter Steve Beers, who had worked on Sunset Boulevard, but the two never married, and they separated in 1999. Actor Robert Pastorelli and Close were also romantically linked in the late 90's, they acted alongside each other in the ABC made-for-TV production of South Pacific (musical). In February 2006, Close married executive and venture capitalist David Evans Shaw in Maine. The couple divorced in August 2015.