Glenn Close is no stranger to spooky stories, and for her latest role, she's entering the twisted, murderous world of Agatha Christie to play the mysterious Lady Edith in the film adaptation of Crooked House. Joined by an all-star cast including Gillian Anderson and Christina Hendricks, Close dazzles in this delightfully gloomy, shocking, classic whodunnit as a stern matriarch with an obsession for shooting down the moles in her yard.
We sat down with the artist formerly known as Cruella de Vil to talk about her new project, but also the current political landscape, including the recent victory of soon-to-be senator Doug Jones, as well as why she finds the #MeToo movement "thrilling." And of course we had to ask when she realized she was a gay icon.
Check out the trailer for Crooked House, in theaters now, and then read our interview below:
OUT: I want to start by talking about the movie, and how you were drawn to the project? Are you an Agatha fan already?
Close: I thought I was, but I realized I really haven’t read much Agatha Christie. But I love the genre. I love a great murder mystery.
What about the character—what did you find most fascinating about her, that made you want to take this part?
Why she stayed. Why she was there. What her secret relationship was—that really doesn’t come out—with the obviously narcissistic man who has basically destroyed this family. That to me was interesting. And the ending, to me, was interesting. It’s kind of an act of charity, I think.
Did you prepare for this role in any way different from others?
Well, I’ve done things with an English accent, but you still have to work on it. Even now, I sometimes think “Ooh!” And I always care very much about my wig, and I had a brilliant wig, and a brilliant guy who did it. So that’s a big part of it—the whole demeanor. I think I have women like this a little bit in my sensibility, because of my grandmothers, and I had an aunt who was Anglo-Irish and live in Ireland, and talked a certain way, and moved a certain way, so yeah.
I wanted to ask about Albert Nobbs, which is largely a trans storyline, because I didn’t realize you had been a co-writer on it. What was it that compelled you to adapt that story?
I did it early on in my career, on stage. A very austere production. And I just loved that character so much, and I always thought it would make a brilliant movie. It took me 14 years from the time I got the rights. Then it was five years—in and out, you get a job, you have to drop it, you get close, then you don’t—I pitched it twice to the same independent film company, and finally it got to be that I took the script as my own. A big chunk of that script is my own writing. Then I got in touch with John Banville, who many feel is the greatest living Irish writer. I didn’t know, basically, who he was, and how revered he was, and he was my cohort in making it Irish. It was a wonderful process, I absolutely loved it.
Are there specific kinds of stories you knew you wanted to tell from the beginning of your career, and stories you know you’ve yet to tell?
I can’t pretend that I said ‘I want to do this. And this came along. And I got to do it.’ You really have to go with your instincts in that moment in time, and then your career becomes those choices. I suppose you could take time and say if there is a theme in those choices. There are still stories that I want to tell. There’s a story I want to adapt that’s secret right now. But in this phase, I’m going to try to care out time to write. Because I find it very fulfilling and I believe in the story.
Is there a dream role—because you’ve played so many types, but is there a certain type of part you’re still aching to try? That would tell a certain message, or just because it would be fun?
I’ve never thought of my career as choosing the message. I’m interested in not going over territory either emotionally or psychologically that I’ve already done. So whatever story or character would challenge me in that way, that’s the kind of thing I want to do. Keep myself surprised, challenged.
I’m interested in your thoughts on Roy Moore, that just happened, and the #MeToo movement.
In some ways it was incredibly unexpected, because everyone knew that there were certain patterns in Hollywood. I mean, patterns between men and women for centuries. The fact that it got blown up so fast and has become this movement I find thrilling. I really do.
I find somebody like Roy Moore a shameful and despicable person. I’m so relieved that he is not going to be in the Senate. I think it would be a black mark on our Democracy to have someone like him. There’s enough to contend with without someone like Roy Moore. I think there are people that are literally trying to pull apart and deconstruct our Democracy, and I think the positive thing, hopefully, is that because it is threatened, we will reevaluate it for ourselves and then fight in whatever way to do something about it. I think it’s basically to get into the system, and get people you believe in, and whose leadership you believe in. That’s a challenge, too.
It’s interesting because all of these men are getting fired or resigning, and there’s one obvious culprit who is suffering no consequences.
It’s wrong. It’s just wrong. It’s not what this country is about, at all. But I think we desperately need enlightened, eloquent leaders. And our political system now doesn’t seem to bring that out of people. It’s all about power. And influence, and it seems little about what the American people really need, even though they all act as if they are speaking for the American people. I don’t think they are. I think that the great leaders in history, many of them were thrust into these positions by circumstance. It’s not something where somebody said, ‘I’m 16 years old and I’m going to be President.’
The whole thing about polls, and saying what people want to hear, in different areas of the country—everybody knows what a sham that is. I don’t think any politician realizes how relieved people would be if they would just tell the truth. And basically think about the people before they think about themselves. What do people really need? That’s the first question. What do you need? What are you afraid of? And what do you need? And why are you angry?
I think no one is asking those questions, and I think for me, a real leader is somebody who listens, and somebody who can explain to people who are divided why they are feeling the way they are feeling, and inspire them to come together for something bigger than themselves. You could say that that is the story of this country: people came together, flawed people, and tried this huge experiment that was democracy. We’ve always been chaotic. It’s very problematic, but it’s also very fragile.
I think of the whole explosion with the #MeToo movement, I hope that it’s a tipping point. I hope that it will represent the beginning of a real social evolution. Because we are biological creatures. And I don’t think any man who is honest—the first thought when someone walks in the door, whether it’s male or female, is…
Do I want to have sex with them?
Yes, exactly. I don’t know if that’s going to change, but with social evolution, people will know that it’s not… there are many people who don’t act on it. That would be a real evolution. We’re not going to grow a sixth finger, or, you know… another ear. But it’s all about attitude and behavior. And with vigilance and expansive, dispassionate, thoughtful leadership, hopefully it won’t go back.
So you’re a gay icon.
Oh, I’m so happy. I do have a GLAAD award.
Do you remember when you realized you were?
Probably Cruella. Certainly Cruella. Actually, funnily enough, I think Alex Forrest is more of a feminine icon, because she said, ‘I won’t be ignored.’ But I don’t know if there’s any Alex Forrest costumes in a gay parade. There’s a lot of Cruella.
Favorite role and most challenging role?
I think one of my favorite roles was the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons.
Fatal Attraction was very challenging. The most recent movie I did, The Wife, which comes out next year, I found very challenging.
This year’s Oscars—do you have any favorites?
I haven’t seem all of them, so I can’t comment. But I loved I, Tonya. And I saw Florida Project and I loved that. It’s a very exciting time, actually. I was just out in LA pitching something, and so I went to all the offices of all the major cable companies, and what everyone’s doing is really exciting. Every now and then a story comes out that really matters, and really makes a difference, and I’m proud of that aspect of our industry.