Pat Connects

Pat Mitchell, President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media

July 18, 2011

Behind the scenes with the brave and versatile Glenn Close

by Pat Mitchell

Glenn Close is as about as far from the character she plays in Damages and the iconic spurned mistress in Fatal Attraction as you can imagine. And if you can't imagine, then all the more reason to view my recent interview with Glenn below and on PBS in the fall (the next installment in our She's Making Media series).

Glenn is funny, sharing behind the scenes stories from her well known and respected film and TV work. We talked about her inclination to choose controversial subjects and roles—playing, for example, the first openly gay military officer in The Margaret Cammermeyer Story and starring in the first TV movie about incest in Something about Amelia. Glenn, in person, doesn't seem  like someone who would gravitate towards controversy or strong female roles.

She is petite, soft-spoken, almost demure, and a little bit shy, but boy can she become a tigress on screen. When she discusses the roles and stories she chooses, it is clear that she is not afraid to take a stand and to be a strong advocate for a cause she believes in. As an actor, she so clearly inhabits every role that even after knowing her as a friend, I easily suspend all  that personal knowledge of the kind and shy Glenn to believe and enjoy her villainous characters, like Patty Hewes, that ambitious, aagressive defense attorney in Damages.

Glenn seems somewhat surprised that she now finds herself in a lead role in a TV series. But she is clearly having fun with this character and bringing her to life in a way that has won Glenn two Emmys for Best Actress (you can watch Damages on DIRECTV, new episodes air on Wednesdays at 10pm EST). The Emmys have been added to the TONY's for her work on stage, a part of her career that some still don't know about. Glenn is also an accomplished singer, playing lead roles on Broadway from her earliest career (Rex, Barnum, Busker Alley) and if you were lucky enough to see her as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, then you know that the combination of her singing and acting talents came together for an extraordinary performance. She needs another musical like that one . . . or at least, her fans do. A truly special treat came when Glenn agreed to sing live for us in the Bennack Theater. She choose to sing a lullaby from her new film, Albert Nobbes (coming out in 2012). It was so lovely, with lyrics that Glenn herself wrote.

So yes, Glenn Close is much more than the bigger than life or Cruella or Alex Forrest or Patty Hewes. She is a devoted mother (her daughter, Annie, was in the theater), an advocate for mental illness (Bring Change2mind), a singer, and as you will see in our conversation, a bit saucy.

She is yet another good example of why I am enjoying this series so much—getting to peel back the public personas of some of the most famous women in media, TV, stage, film, and the internet to discover more about who they are, what they care about, think about, and to share these evenings with friends in our intimate theaters on both coasts.

Next up is Geena Davis, who I always love to speak with about acting and activism, in LA.

tags: She's Making Media, Glenn Close

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Pat Connects

Pat Mitchell, President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media

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Since assuming her current role as president and chief executive officer of The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television & Radio) in March 2006, Pat Mitchell has guided the thirty-four-year old institution through an exciting rebranding effort and strengthened its public and industry programs by analyzing and interpreting the immense changes in the media landscape. Under her leadership, the Paley Center has become a major convener for media leaders and enthusiasts, continuing to offer its unrivaled collection of radio, television, and advertising content as a lens for exploring the powerful impact of media on our lives, culture, and society. Pat Mitchell was named to Newsweek's 2011 list of 150 Women Who Shake the World.

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