The nearly three decades that Glenn Close spent trying to achieve her dream of making “Albert Nobbs” into a feature film has already become the stuff of Hollywood legend — even though the film will only have an Oscar qualifying run this year and won’t have an official theatrical release until Jan. 27. In fact, it was shortly before Close received her first Oscar nomination for “The World According to Garp” and her career began to take off that the actress discovered the story of a woman who must dress as a man in 19th-century Ireland in order to avoid poverty.
After playing the funny little Nobbs in a stage production of the George Moore short story in 1982, Close became intrigued with turning the tale into a film. She nearly got the project into production with director Istvan Szabo in the late 1990s, and went as far as scouting locations in and around Dublin, but the financing ultimately fell through. Close continued to fine tune the script for almost 10 more years, ultimately completing the final draft with cowriter John Banville and signing on with director Rodrigo Garcia.
Close — who is star, producer and screenwriter on the film — recently spoke with Variety’s Bob Verini about working with Garcia and the daunting prospect of awards season.
“I didn’t know quite how to be with Rodrigo, because I’m always incredibly deferential to directors on the set, and never want to question anybody in public or anything like that,” she explained. “But because we were (working) so fast, there were certain times when I had to speak up, and it made me feel like throwing up at first. I really feel the director is the chief, but what happened was rather extraordinary. We developed this amazing collaboration where everything was open and non-threatening.”
Though seeing “Albert Nobbs” finally make it to the big screen has been gratifying, the five-time Academy Award nominee said she has a different attitude toward the attendant pomp and circumstance of awards season than she did as an up-and-coming actress.
“The hoopla is very hard to take. At my age, having been around so long, I don’t leap at trying to figure out what to wear, and now it seems like a lot of it is about the red carpet,” she said.
She adds that she respects the heart of the season, to recognize great work, though she has a difficult time with picking a winner.
“I’ve always found it perplexing to choose one person over the other. How do you say that Monet is better than Van Gogh? I don’t mean to be highfalutin’ about it, but everyone is so different,” she said, adding that what she enjoys most about awards ceremonies is catching up with old friends backstage.
Though she said her work on “Damages” has inhibited her ability to see a lot of movies in contention this season, she did manage to give a shout-out to her costar.
“Oh, I loved ‘Bridesmaids’! Rosie Byrne is my ‘Damages’ costar. It was truly witty. It’s very hard to find true wit!” Close enthused.