Close plays an abused, impoverished woman who passes as a male butler in a 19th-century Dublin hotel in order to survive. The only confidant she has is herself, but then she meets a woman house painter passing as a man (Janet McTeer) who has a wife (Bronagh Gallagher). Nobbs decides to try to court a young woman, (Mia Wasikowska) who also works at the hotel, in hopes of finding a life mate.
Close told The Daily Beast that she’s wanted to make the film since 1982 — the year she made her movie debut in The World According to Garp. Close won an Obie for playing Nobbs on stage and has been driven to bring it to the big screen ever since.
Here’s the trailer.
Playing Albert required two hours a day in the makeup chair, changing the shape of her nose, ears and mouth and strapping on a vest to flatten her chest. But just as challenging for Close was getting into the mindset of the oppressed and repressed main character.
“I don’t think she knows [if she’s gay],” says Close. “She has no knowledge of sexuality. She disappears for her own protection but she happens to disappear into a job where you’re expected to be invisible, so she’s an invisible person in an invisible job, and that makes her lose sight of herself.”
Close said that she experienced a similar kind of identity crisis growing up. When she was seven, her parents joined a Christian cult called Moral Re-Armament (MRA).
“That could’ve been part of [my connection to Nobbs] because to protect yourself you had to —” she pauses. “That’s very, very complex. Any kind of group-mandated thing, for a child, is quite dire. It’s cult living where you’re told what to say and how to act. It’s very sexually repressive and yet you’re supposed to be re-making the world, but you re-make the world in someone else’s eyes, so you give up your individuality.” She adds, “As a child, it’s catastrophic because that’s where you’re trying to figure out who you are. I think I still have elements of that.”
Close left the cult at age 22 and enrolled in college. But she had trouble relating to other students — and herself — because of her upbringing.
“I was desperate and very disillusioned. I didn’t trust any of my instincts because I thought they’d all been foisted on me.”
More than 40 years later, Close seems anything but insecure. She has three Tony awards, three Emmys, two Golden Globes and five Oscar nominations. Yes, nominations — she has yet to win an Academy Award.
From the critical reviews so far, Albert Nobbs seems sure to bring her sixth nomination. And this very well could be the role that brings a win.
What would an Academy Award mean to Close?
“I think a lot of people think I have won [an Oscar],” Close told Daily Beast. “My husband rolls his eyes when I say this but it’s really the truth: I’ve never done anything thinking at the end of the line it would give me an award, because I think that’s deadly.” She pauses briefly, and adds, “What would be rewarding about this is it’s the most invested that I’ve ever been, and to be recognized would be amazing.”
I predict a lot of mixed feelings around here come Oscar time.
What do you think of Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs? Will this bring her an Oscar at last or will Iron Lady Streep rule the day?