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Glenn Close reflects on her 7th Oscar nomination and that ‘spontaneous’ Globes speech

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Glenn Close scored her seventh Oscar nomination for playing an unfulfilled woman in “The Wife.”
(Michael Nagle / For The Times)

Glenn Close scored her seventh Oscar nomination for her lead performance in “The Wife.” The Sony Pictures Classics drama sees Close playing Joan Castleman, the accommodating spouse of an acclaimed Nobel Prize-winning author.

With six prior nods, for “The World According to Garp” (1982), “The Big Chill” (1983), “The Natural” (1984), “Fatal Attraction” (1987), “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988) and “Albert Nobbs” (2011), the 71-year-old is the most nominated living actor to have never won an Oscar. (Richard Burton also received seven nominations and Peter O’Toole holds the record at eight nominations without a win.)

Close jumped on the phone with The Times from Bozeman, Mont., to reflect on her newfound Oscar nomination record, sharing the screen with her daughter and portraying a woman with ambition.

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FULL COVERAGE: Oscar nominations 2019 »

Were you tuned into the announcement live?

This sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I had my family over for dinner and I thought, last night as I was going to bed, “Oh my God, I think I’m getting a cold.” So I turned off my phone to get some sleep; [the nominations announcement] just wasn’t on my mind. I was woken up by my brother who had come across town — he was at the truck stop with his buddies — and got a key from my sister next door and walked into my bedroom and woke me up. [Laughs] I couldn’t believe it! Oh my God, it was so funny. But it was kind of a perfect way to find out, I have to say. I’m having a celebratory pancake with my brother downtown, at a great little cafe called [Main Street] Overeasy.

It’s wonderful that this nomination is for a film you share with your daughter, Annie Starke, who played the younger version of Joan.

Yes! Those flashbacks, she really laid down that character. I was so proud of her. She did such a beautiful job.

Your performance has been punctuated by your Golden Globes speech, in which you reflected on your late mother. Why do you think both have resonated with viewers?

I want to say I’ll never make a better speech because it was so totally spontaneous. I think maybe because it was personal that it gave it extra meaning, and it’s something I think about my mother, and my grandmother, all the time. It just brought it perhaps to a different level, rather than like a political statement, it’s personal. My mom inspired all of us and at the same time, I think she basically was unfulfilled. A lot of times, women were expected to fulfill themselves either through their children or their husbands.

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Glenn Close co-stars alongside Christian Slater and Jonathan Pryce in “The Wife.”
(Graeme Hunter / Sony Pictures Classics)

I’m off on a tangent, but I was just thinking that we, in our society, have not yet figured out how to deal with successful women. First of all, women certainly didn’t have a chance in my mother’s generation, it wasn’t in our culture. Yes, there have always been extraordinary women who have been out of the norm who have succeeded, but a lot of times, they’re labeled. I played Patty Hewes [on “Damages”], who was a lawyer and is as tough as any guy, and she was labeled as a “bitch.” Although, sometimes, she was bitchy! But it’s an interesting time in our culture where hopefully we’ll embrace new norms. I think it’ll just make us richer.

This is your seventh Oscar nomination without a win. How does that feel?

I can’t tell you how thrilling it is. It’s kind of wonderful to have my career behind me — well, not behind me, it’s still going on! — but it’s starting to mean something. And to be in the room and recognized for work still, that means a lot to me. The irony of my life is the older I get, the more I figure things out. It’s not just me. I think I’m at a time where I feel as alive and creative as I’ve ever felt.

Does the win matter, then?

I don’t know. In this highly competitive profession, to be singled out as one of five is amazing. How the winner gets chosen, that’s a whole other deal, but I don’t feel I have to validate myself. I don’t want to come off as not caring. But I guess, in the eyes of the world, to have a prize in your hand can mean something. And [the category] is so varied. How do you say who’s going to win, out of that? There’s no losers in that group.

How will you celebrate later today?

There was a snowfall last night, so it’s very beautiful up here right now. I’m going to go back to my house and take my dog for a walk. And I leave tomorrow to visit people on the way to Sundance, so I’ll do some laundry.

Oscar nominations 2019: See the full list »

Envelope Live 2018-19 awards season playlist


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