When Glenn Close portrayed Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard on Broadway in 1994, The New York Times proclaimed her portrayal of the aging starlet as “one of those legendary performances people will be talking about years from now.” Now, after a successful run in London, Close returns to Broadway in the role that earned her a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 1995.
Close will star in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, now playing at the Palace Theatre.
Over the course of her storied career, Close has garnered widespread acclaim for her roles on stage and screen. She’s also earned legions of LGBT fans for her classic (and sometimes campy) roles.
In anticipation of what is sure to be another legendary run on Broadway, let’s take a look back at the roles that have shaped Close’s career as she steps into the role of Norma Desmond once again.
It’s hard to believe by the time Close made her star-making turn in Fatal Attraction, she had already been nominated for three Academy Awards (for The World According to Garp, The Big Chill and The Natural). As Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, Close became an icon, delivering the definitive portrayal of obsession. It’s hard not to see shades of Alex in Norma’s desperation to keep Joe in her home and working on her script for Salome.
One of Close’s greatest strengths is her ability to empathize with the characters she’s portraying. She won her first Emmy Award for portraying lesbian National Guard colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer in Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story in 1995.
“We all went through the AIDS scourge, I’ve lost many friends, and I’ve always been highly sympathetic to the plights of gays, what they’ve had to deal with,” Close told The Daily Beast in 2010. “But the scene at the end, although I was very open-minded and supportive, when Judy Davis and I had to kiss at the end, I really felt that for 30 seconds, maybe a minute, what it really, really felt like to be attracted to my own gender. It was kind of revelatory for me, a real frisson moment. I’ll never forget it.”
For further proof Close can pull off being deranged and glamorous, look no further than her unhinged portrayal of the classic villainess Cruella DeVille. In 101 Dalmatians, Close transformed a children’s movie antagonist into an twisted fashion icon that would make Miranda Priestly shake in her stilettos.
One of Close’s most enduring roles was as Patty Hewes on Damages, winning her two consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. According to Close, it would be her last regular role on television, though she would consider a miniseries or guest spot. Check out some of Close’s most cutting scenes as Patty above, and imagine her barking “I am big!”
In 2011, Close was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Albert Nobbs. Close also produced and co-wrote the film which tells the tale of a woman in 1800s Ireland living as a man. “I know that it does matter, but in some ways, if you look at it from some angles, gender should be irrelevant,” she told PrideSource in 2012. “People should be able to love whoever they have that safety and connection with. That’s a basic human need. And that’s what Albert takes on.” Shades of Albert’s sadness and longing are the kind subtle humanity Close brings to a part like Norma Desmond.
Get your tickets to see Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard at the Palace Theatre here.