TORONTO 2011: ALBERT NOBBS




FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS

GLENN CLOSE said that she spent most of her career preparing for her genderbending turn in ALBERT NOBBS, a passion project she wrote, produced and stars in about a meek Victorian woman who passes herself off as a man in poverty stricken Ireland.

The award winning actor fell in love with the unusual tale of survival and repression in 1982 when she starred in an off Broadway adaptation of the short story ALBERT NOBBS by Irish author GEORGE MOORE.

Back then she had just begun her movie career with acclaimed turns in THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP and THE BIG CHILL, each of which earned her ACADEMY AWARD nominations.

“I really didn’t know movies that much,” GLENN commented of that time, which was nevertheless marked by a spate of remarkable performances that put her up for five OSCARS between 1983 and 1989.

But GLENN was captivated by the bizarre 19th century hero — a naive hotel servant who loses nearly all semblance of her true self after decades of disguise — and fervently believed the period piece would make a great film.

She would spend the next three decades bringing it to the big screen.

“It’s a unique character and what I experienced doing it on stage…was the power of this strange story. Whoever Albert is really elicits a lot of emotion,” GLENN stated during a round of interviews at the TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL.

“I just decided this is one thing that I am not going to give up on. I’m not willing to go to the end of my career and say I gave up on Albert Nobbs.”

Over the decades, the star worked on story ideas and recruited friends and colleagues to help bring the story to life — she sought script guidelines from her MEETING VENUS director ISTVAN SZABO in the early 1990s, pulled producer BONNIE CURTIS on board after meeting her on the 2005 dramedy THE CHUMSCRUBBER and secured director RODRIGO GARCIA as they shot 2005’s NINE LIVES.

GLENN even scouted her own location in 2001, when she went to Ireland to find a building that could be transformed into the Dublin hotel where ALBERT and his rag tag cohorts of alcoholic waiters and saucy maids toil.

Preparations began in earnest three years ago as GLENN began to wonder if she was growing too old for the role. She spoke with BONNIE CURTIS and RODRIGO GARICA about what ALBERT should actually look like and how the effects could be achieved.

“We really, really wanted it to be authentic — that this could be believable to the people in the story.”

By this time, the actor was working on her acclaimed TV legal drama DAMAGES. She flew out to L.A. to meet with a makeup artist and the resulting experiment was startling.

“There came a moment where he had finished with my face and I looked up and it wasn’t me any more. I actually started crying because I thought, ‘This will be possible.”’

In fact, age helped add a level of poignancy to ALBERT’S plight, remarked GLENN, who wore tight jeans, a navy blazer and flats for a day of interviews.

She said she sought out actual vintage clothing from the era to complete the look and took inspiration for ALBERT’S awkward mannerisms from CHARLIE CHAPLIN.

All ready, buzz is building that the film could bring yet another OSCAR nomination for the legendary performer, but GLENN brushed all that aside as “speculation.”

She heaped praise on her costar English actor JANET McTEER, who portrays a confident painter who learns of ALBERT’S secret and encourages the sheltered waiter to pursue a life outside her self imposed prison. BRENDAN GLEESON, meanwhile, is a boozy hotel doctor who embarks on an illicit tryst with a maid.

MIA WASIKOWSKA costars as a young maid who falls for a handsome tradesperson with a dark past, played by AARON JOHNSON, while also catching ALBERT’S fancy.

GLENN said all the elements of the film came together just when they were supposed to, resulting in the story she always wanted to tell.

“My almost 30 years of experience as an actor, (of) learning my craft, has informed every aspect of what I put into Albert.”

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