Glenn Close will not be reading this article. And it's not just because she believes, as she told me, “We have a paucity of constructive criticism in this country.”
By the time this piece of criticism publishes, Close will have started rehearsals for her upcoming role on Broadway as Joan of Arc’s mom in Mother of the Maid. When we spoke at the beginning of August (a bit early in the cinematic calendar year to start promoting a role for a potential Oscar nomination), she was in San Francisco with director Björn Runge for the screening of their new movie, The Wife.
The six-time Academy Award nominee who, unlike her contemporary Meryl Streep, has never won one of those golden statues, says she’ll be able to tune out Oscar prognosticators because she’ll be consumed with a challenging new role—the mother of a saint.
"After Joan was killed—I think she was 80 years old—she pled for Joan in front of the Pope to get her daughter reinstated [in the church]. This is an illiterate peasant woman,” Close says. That extraordinary strain of devotion also runs through the veins of another Joan, Close's role of Joan Castleman in The Wife, a woman married to a revered novelist (Jonathan Pryce). Jane Anderson, who wrote Mother of the Maid, also adapted The Wife from Meg Wolitzer’s novel.
Close has excelled in roles that exact some form of self-sacrifice from the character. In The Big Chill, she gave her husband permission to sleep with an unattached girlfriend longing for a child. Later, a crying scene in the shower reveals the cost of her character’s apparent generosity and stoicism—it’s a heaving, full-bodied, soul-consuming cry. Her Iris Gaines from The Natural has Robert Redford’s child and then, years later, given the opportunity to tell him about their son, doesn’t.