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sexta-feira, 20 de janeiro de 2012

Glenn Close's love for 'Albert' rewarded

Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs in 'Albert Nobbs.' In addition to playing the titular character, Close was a producer on the film and co-wrote the script with John Banville.
Patrick Redmond, Roadside Attractions
Glenn Close has stood by her man ever since starring in The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, a 1982 off-Broadway show that bears his name.
  • By Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY
    Glenn Close has been garnering praise (and nominations) this awards season for her work in the film 'Albert Nobbs.' Close first played the character Albert Nobbs in a 1982 stage production.
By Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY
Glenn Close has been garnering praise (and nominations) this awards season for her work in the film 'Albert Nobbs.' Close first played the character Albert Nobbs in a 1982 stage production.
As a result of her tenacity, Albert Nobbs finally has made the transition to the big screen — with Close reprising her stage role as a destitute, late-19th-century Dublin woman who spends nearly a lifetime posing as a meekly dutiful manservant in a hotel. It's an event the actress has described as "joyous closure."
After struggling to find backers for the almost $8 million project and surviving a scuttled earlier attempt at a film version, her faith in Albert is paying off.
A five-time Oscar contender who helped define cinema in the '80s with such signature portrayals as a scorned other woman in Fatal Attraction and a sexually devious marquise in Dangerous Liaisons, Close headlines her first film in a decade as Albert Nobbs prepares to open wider on Jan. 27.
She is especially gratified by the response so far: "People come out of the theater reeling. They are knocked out."
Gerry Goodstein
Glenn Close on stage in the Manhattan Theater Company 1982 production of 'The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs.'
The understated period piece has split critical opinion with its familiar tableau of spoiled society swells and oppressed working class. But its lead has received abundant praise, and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for her performance have duly followed after a limited Oscar-qualifying run last month. If predictions come true, Close — who spent more than 15 years trying to turn her passion project into a movie — might get a sixth chance at an Academy Award when nominees are announced Tuesday.
Does the actress, 64, who also produced, honed the script and wrote the lyrics to the theme song, Lay Your Head Down, sung by Sinead O'Connor, feel that such trophy opportunities are just icing on the cake at this point?
"Well, it's pretty thick icing," says the resident of New York's Greenwich Village, clearly pleased while speaking by phone from her Brooklyn dressing room during a break from shooting her fifth and final season as powerhouse litigator Patty Hewes on DirecTV's Damages.
Yes, she has gone through the awards-campaign routine before. "But," she notes, "not like this. I have never been so invested personally. It was a big risk. Does my feeling that this is a story worth telling have resonance for people? Or have I been misguided? I'm thrilled that it is connecting to people."
Albert packs a punch
Unlike some of her more flamboyant creations, such as that shrill puppy-napper Cruella de Vil in 1996's 101 Dalmatians, Close delicately unveils the inner emotions of this ginger-haired ethereal being as if she were prying open a long-sealed and slightly damaged antique locket.
Why such dedication to a character?
"The story, for all its simplicity, carries a big emotional wallop," says Close, who always refers to her character as a female. That impact increases after Albert's eyes are open to greater possibilities in life after meeting another female in hiding, an outgoing house painter named Hubert (Janet McTeer, also a Globe and SAG nominee), who has found companionship by marrying a woman.
"What I find compelling is that Albert doesn't feel sorry for herself. She doesn't feel the world owes her anything. She has a dream that she doesn't know is impossible for her. There is something universal about the theme of an innocent trying to negotiate a complex world without enough tools to be successful."
John Shearer/Getty Images
Glenn Close accepts the Career Achievement Award during the 2012 Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala.
Anne Thompson, editor of Indiewire's Thompson on Hollywood blog, is among those cheering Close's do-it-yourself efforts in reclaiming her spot on Hollywood's diva list — even if she had to go undercover as a man to do so.
"Somehow, Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren have kept in the game with commercial films and Oscar nominations," Thompson says. "You could argue Maggie Smith (still going strong at 77, especially as part of the Harry Potter franchise) has gotten more jobs than Close. Older men hang onto their perceived box-office clout longer than women do. Women of a certain age are only as good as their last picture. One flop, and they are history."
As for whether the film will catch on with the public, Thompson says, "It is very dependent on getting Oscar nominations."
Close has had brief encounters with gender-bending in the past, playing Romeo at her all-girl high school and doing a comical bit as a bearded pirate in 1991's Hook. But Albert is a whole different class of cross-dresser.
"The key to Albert is that I always thought of her as childlike," she says during an earlier interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. "There is also a bit of a clown about her, like the classic clowns I grew up knowing. When I was little, my grandfather used to take us to Barnum & Bailey Circus. There was this very famous clown, Emmett Kelly, and he had this very sad face. He was a bum and he was brilliant. That was one of the huge images of my childhood."
She watched plenty of footage of Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp character and borrowed his bowler, baggy pants and too-big shoes for Albert's wardrobe. Close also changed herself physically, spending 2½ hours in hair and makeup each day during the slightly more than month-long shoot. "We added just a little tip to the nose and made my ears bigger. And a bump here," pointing to her lower jaw.
Oscar voters are suckers when it comes to parts that require physical and psychological changes in sexual identity. Ever since Marlene Dietrich was rewarded for her cabaret drag act in 1930's Morocco (her only nomination), a string of gender-blurring transformations have found their way into the race — from Jack Lemmon's feminine makeover in 1959's Some Like It Hot to Cate Blanchett's incarnation as music legend Bob Dylan in 2007's I'm Not There.
But only a few have claimed the prize: Linda Hunt as a diminutive Eurasian man in 1982's The Year of Living Dangerously, Gwyneth Paltrow donning facial hair while disguised as a boyish actor in 1998's Shakespeare in Love and Hilary Swank passing as a male in 1999's Boys Don't Cry.
McTeer, who describes working with Close as "fantastic," notes a "high level of scare factor" in what they both had to achieve in altering the audience's perception.
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Glenn Close on the red carpet at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards.
"With something like Victor Victoria ( the 1982 musical comedy that earned Julie Andrews an Oscar nomination as a singer pretending to be a female impersonator), it was kind of Shakespearean. We didn't really have to believe she was a man." But, just as with Boys Don't Cry, she says, "you have to believe the lie. You have to buy the whole thing."
Close looked like her dad
Director Rodrigo García, a specialist in female-driven ensemble films who previously worked with Close on 2000's Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her and 2005's Nine Lives, had to adjust to his star's new guise. "When Glenn came out as Nobbs on set, it was always a little unsettling. Because there was this little man on set. It took a while to get used to the fact that that's her. That is the fun of it. You forget."
Her manly appearance also took the actress aback: "At certain angles, I look a lot like my dad when he was 20 and flew in the Army Air Corps in the Second World War."
And how did Close's husband, biotech mogul David Shaw, react to her male persona? "He thinks it's a little freaky," she says with a laugh. "But he's proud and thrilled." As for her daughter, Annie Starke, 23, an aspiring actress who appears as a snooty chocolate-shop clerk in Albert Nobbs, she says, "This was the first time she had done anything like that, and she was glad I looked like a man."
Like many of her peers over age 50, Close has been finding meatier pickings on TV of late with her stint on FX's The Shield and her continuing work on Damages, which has resulted in two Emmy wins. But a few film nibbles have been coming her way, thanks in part to Albert's reception. "I'm getting some interesting things," she says. "I haven't had a significant movie role in a while, and it would be nice to get back to that."
One possibility is as a pushy aunt to super-hot newcomer Elizabeth Olsen's unhappily married heroine in the 19th-century-set erotic thriller Therese Raquin, based on the Emile Zola novel, although Close says it is still under discussion.
Would another chance at an Oscar mean as much as it once did?
"It's always good," she says with Albert-like graciousness. "Especially for this particular film."


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