HAMMOND: Will Glenn Close Be Challenging Meryl Streep At Next Year's Oscars?

Glenn Close-Starrer ‘Albert Nobbs’ Picked Up By Liddell Entertainment & Roadside Attractions

EXCLUSIVE: It appears Glenn Close may be shaking up the Best Actress Oscar race this year. Today’s announcement that Roadside Attractions and Liddell Entertainment have acquired all U.S. rights to Albert Nobbs, in which Close plays a woman passing as a man in order to survive in 19th century Dublin, and plan a fall release and likely Oscar campaign adds a bit of drama to 2011’s budding Academy race. Meryl Streep, a two-time winner and 16-time nominee, is the presumed front-runner as Margaret Thatcher in the Weinstein Company’s The Iron Lady. Streep hasn’t won since 1982, and many think (sight unseen) that Thatcher could be her ticket back to the winner’s circle. Ironically, that was also the year Close received the first of her five nominations (for her first film, The World According To Garp) in a remarkable run between 1982 and 1988 when she received her last nod for Dangerous Liaisons. Of course she’s won Tonys and Emmys, but the Oscar has famously eluded her.

In fact, 1982 was also the year she first played Albert Nobbs in an off-Broadway production of the play and won an Obie Award for it. Even though that was near the beginning of her career, she’s had her eye on it as a possible film ever since and has been actively trying to get it produced for the past 15 years. In addition to starring, she also co-produced and co-wrote the screenplay, enlisting her Nine Lives and Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her director Rodrigo Garcia to helm.

When I caught up with her today on the phone from her Maine vacation spot, she still couldn’t believe this dream project was finally going to be seen this year. “I’m kind of pinching myself. It’s a story I never ever forgot and an extraordinary character. It’s a simple story that has huge resonance,”  she said, adding that ultimately this is a very human tale dealing in part with the power of secrets that people hide about themselves.

She offered words of praise for Roadside, which had a very big year in 2010 with Oscar contenders Winter’s Bone and Biutiful, saying the film got wonderful response from other potential distributors but that Roadside was the most passionate. “They got it to the depths of the story. No one has been a part of this project without bringing committment and passion to it, so they just extended all that, which was thrilling for all of us,” she said.

Close hopes the film will be prominent on the fall festival circuit, which might include Telluride, Toronto, New York or others. Of course, that would mean freeing herself from her Damages shooting schedule. That series, for which she has won two Emmys (it’s not eligible this year, though), returns to the air via DirecTV on July 13 and will be in production for a fifth season just around the time of those fests. “That’s our dream. We would like to go to festivals very much. We haven’t heard back from everyone yet, but we’re waiting to see when I have to get down on my knees to my Damages writers to break me out so I can go to a couple of fests.”

Of course with any fall entry like this, particularly one with a challenging, transformative type of role for an actor who persevered for years to bring it to the screen, the word Oscar is bound to creep into the conversation. Close, who hasn’t been nominated in more than two decades, doesn’t shy away from the subject. “I think it’s tremendously important, very very important. The thing I’ve always believed is, I never was offended  if somebody didn’t get the vision for this movie. I think a lot of the movies that have acutally ended up being honored at the Oscars are films that almost didn’t get made. We’re in that grand tradition of independent film, and I think a lot of that is because it’s different and different can make a lot of people feel insecure,” she says. As for her many previous nominations, all in the ’80s, she says it has been awhile. “All the prints of my movies are getting a little yellowed, ” she laughed.

Although she hasn’t had many choice feature film roles in the past decade, concentrating instead on TV projects like Damages and The Shield, there was talk about turning her Tony-winning triumph as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard into a big movie musical.  Although Barbra Streisand was also mentioned for the movie version, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber reportedly wanted to do it only with Glenn. But after lukewarm response to the film version of The Phantom of the Opera, Paramount (which released Billy Wilder’s 1950 classic film original) seemed to get cold feet.

“It would have been fabulous. It still would be fabulous. That part is a classic, and you can play it until you’re practically dead. Why it hasn’t happened, who knows what the politics are?” Close said.

Perhaps Oscar attention for Albert Nobbs could help her revive interest in it. At any rate, just getting this one made is a win for Close. “It feels wonderful, and I’m deeply grateful we will be seen by real audiences now,” she says.

  1. I still wish Andrew Lloyd Webber would bring the musical version of “Sunset Boulevard” to the big screen. I still go to You Tube to watch Glenn Close’s mesmerizing performances from “Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration.”

  2. No challenge. Close has been absent from film from the last 80’s while Streep has been cranking out consistent film work for decades. If it comes down to these two, Streep will win.

    1. Oh thanks for the verdict, guess i don’t need to see the performances.. thanks sean.

    2. That’s exactly the reason why Close would be much more likely to win. Streep’s been deserving many times, but people take her for granted at this point. It’s a given that she’ll always give an Oscar-worthy performance, so people give her the requisite nomination, but never seriously consider her for the actual award anymore. Close would be a great comeback story, a la Paul Newman, Jack Palance, Jeff Bridges, Alan Arkin, et al.

  3. This is why I hate Awards; you can’t honestly say one is better than the other. My guess is both women will be extradordinary and deserving the praise they will recieve. But to say one is better than the other is ridiculous. It will come down to Close “she lost so many times in the past and is due” and Streep “she hasn’t won in over 30 years, has proven her durability and has become box office gold in her early 60’s”. I’ll let the performances speak for themselves and will ignore what Oscar thinks.

      1. No, you can say which one you THINK is better – THAT’S an opinion.
        Stating it as if it were fact is stupid.

        Now go back to whatever bridge you crawled out from under.

  4. Dustin for “Tootsie”…Hilary for “Boys Don’t Cry”…Gywneth for “Shakespeare in Love”…Hollywood loves this and often rewards it.

    But, I would not bet against The Iron Lady. Of course, we have not seen either performance, but Meryl as Thatcher will be at the peak of her game.

  5. I greatly admire Streep but I have to say that if there is any American actress with the artistic range and talent to “compete” with her it’s without question Glenn Close.

  6. There is no reason to think that Streep somehow has been or will be the favorite. 2nd lead Oscar wins nearly always come from best picture nominees (mostly when there were five of these) and directed by top of the line, also Oscar recognized directors.

    Why would Streep be any more of a favorite than would, say, Tom Hanks for playing Ronald Reagan, another right-wing icon?

    The Academy if they have any opinion at all about Streep beyond any other actor knows she has won two Oscars, and may give her a third at some point, including possibly for The Iron Lady. But the thought that somehow this year will be the one is not supported by any evidence that I am aware of, and some actual evidence to the contrary.

    And before we are through Michelle Williams, Rooney Mara and any number of other viable contenders could emerge.

  7. There’s something creepy about her Albert Nobbs look. Don’t you think she looks like the gay kid from Glee?

    1. Close as Albert looks more like Strictly Come Dancing’s bad boy Brendan Cole or Top Gear’s loudmouth Jeremy Clarkson thrown in.

      Type in Brendan Cole or Jeremy Clarkson on Google and see what I mean.

  8. Damages doesn’t have a show without Glenn Close, so I hope they don’t let her outright miss episodes of it, but they SHOULD alter the shooting schedule as nessescary to accomidate her fest attendance when nessescary. It is her show and she is brilliant in it. I am looking forward to seeing the movie she feels so passionately about, too.

  9. While I have yet to see either performance, my feeling is that Glenn Close will have the much better performance. Sorry M. Streep lovers … she has been turning out extended SNL sketches of late … Julie & Julia … that wasn’t acting, that was sketch work … Mamma Mia seemed like take the money and run … It’s Complicated was terrible … in Doubt she got acted off the screen … yeah, she’s been around, but it’s been quite some time since Sophie’s Choice.

    1. I was rooting for Glenn Close ( Fatal Attraction ) & Holly Hunter ( Broadcast News ) to win the Oscar that Cher undeservedly won, also I wanted Glenn to win the Oscar for Dangerous Liaisons. It just proves that awards doesn’t mean crap in the end- as long as you have a long career. Ms. Close fits that example. But, it would be nice if she finally wins the Gold Guy.

  10. Memo to young actresses in the Megan Fox vein: You want the skill of a Streep or a Close? Get the hell out of Los Angeles, quit plastic surgery and try some stage work. LA does not breed enduring actresses.

    1. Oh please. Living in Los Angeles has nothing to do with one’s caliber of acting talent. LA has a very deep pool of top notch actors.

      1. No doubt there’s a deep pool of talent in Hollywood, but the actors/actresses in the shallow end get the majority of the work and are extremely over-paid for it, too.

        Just look at Forbes lists of highest paid talent in Hollywood and you can’t dispute there’s NO correlation between talent and salary. There are valet attendants and waitresses with more talent than some of the people on that list. Hollywood rewards mediocrity. A truly talented actor is more likely to get stage work than a feature film.

  11. Glenn Close is overrated and scary to look at even at the best of times. Plus I enjoyed this plot back when it was called Yentl. This new movie is supposed to entertain which demographic exactly?

  12. Glenn Close and Meryl Streep are incredible. I think this could be Streep’s third oscar! Can’t wait to see The Iron Lady!

  13. It would be awesome to see her as George W. Bush. Way better actor than J. Brolin.

  14. If a fake nose can do it for Kidman. (Who should of won for The Others) playing a man (like it did for Linda Hunt) should get her across the line.

  15. Streep has been snubbed way too many times by the Academy,next year is going to be her year.It doesn’t matter that she already has two Oscars,she’s the greatest actress ever and she deserves way more than just two.Close is a great actress but I feel like Streep’s time has finally come again after all these years of losing when she should have won.

  16. Holy crap. Had to actually read the article to figure out that was Close in the accompanying photo; it looked like the dude from Dr. Who at first glance. I’d bet on Close in this race.

  17. Close in Dangerous Liaisons was pitch-perfect… and she’s just as brilliant as Patty Hewes in DAMAGES (applaud DirecTv for financing the upcoming 4th season).

    But seeing the performances should actually mean something… doesn’t mean that it will.

    I’m tired of seeing Streep show up on the red carpet only to lose what? 14x in a row? Kind of robs other actresses of an opportunity, and doesn’t bolster Streep’s career to have nomination 10, 12, 15+ Is she good, more than good, but still… kind of cheapens the whole affair (which has been the case the last decade).

    1. Meryl doesn’t “rob” any other performer of an opportunity. She puts out excellent work year after year, and earns her spot when the nominations are announced. It’s not her fault no other actress have been able to reach her level of critical success.

  18. I’ve never understood why Glenn Close’s movie career feel apart 20 years ago and never regained traction. She has given truly iconic performances for which her particular talent made her uniquely qualified above all others. Streep would never have been as effective in “Fatal Attraction” or “Liaisons Dangereuses”. Streep can’t do ‘evil’. Close should have gotten Streep’s part in the “Manchurian Candidate” remake. Still, when Streep can channel a character through an accent and lots of makeup, and the material is good – as she did so remarkably in “Julie and Julia” and especially in the TV version of “Angels in America” – there’s no touching her. When the roles are less showy, as in “Doubt”, she’s less effective. We don’t know where the Thatcher portrayal will fall, and we don’t know what else Close will bring to “Albert Nobbs” apart from the gender impersonation. In any case, the 2011 Best Actress Oscar race could be the most exciting in years with these two powerhouse actors in play.

  19. I think Meryl Streep has a far better role coming up in her career: the lead in August: Osage County. The role of Violet Weston is one for the ages (and of course won its lead Steppenwolf Chicago actress Deanna Dunagan a well-deserved Tony Award on Broadway). NY critics couldn’t stop falling over themselves about this Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play and that infamous role when it stream-rolled through Broadway.

  20. Break a leg, Glenn! We can’t wait to see this movie and we’ll be rooting for you in any and all competitions.

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