Follow Vogue Arabia

Why The Wife Starring Glenn Close will Resonate with Women Everywhere

Glenn Close as Joan Castlemann in The Wife. Courtesy Front Row Filmed Entertainment

Already putting her in the Oscars race, the star’s latest role is one that will resonate with women.

Originally printed in the September 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.

Many recall American actor Glenn Close in the character of Cruella De Vil in the 1996 Disney film 101 Dalmatians. Draped in trailing fur pelts, she sunk her teeth into her wickedly stylish, larger-than-life character – and was nominated for a Golden Globe award as a result. Throughout her five-decade-long career, Close, 71, has sought out versatile characters that push both her boundaries and viewers’ expectations. Whether playing the role of a disturbed mistress in Fatal Attraction or a conniving courtesan in Dangerous Liaisons, her ability to layer and then peel apart characters affords her a career longevity enjoyed by few. Her most recent leading role in The Wife is no different. And rumor has it, it just might earn the six-time Academy Award nominee an Oscar.

“Everyone needs approval,” nods Close, her white hair cropped into a boyish pixie cut, framing her intuitive, deep-set, blue-gray eyes. “I think that it gives people courage, and the knowledge that what they are doing is of value to others.” She quips, “It’s a rare person who can soldier on without it.” She isn’t speaking about herself, however, but her character. “I think Joan would have written no matter what.”

Based on the 2003 novel by Meg Wolitzer, The Wife explores the relationship between a Nobel Prize-winning author and his long-suffering better half. Close describes Joan as a shy woman who came into her own in an era that preceded feminism. “There were so many norms followed at the time. Women were not expected to have a career of their own – as Joan finds out – and there was nothing to reinforce them. No toolbox for feminism,” she explains. It may come as a surprise to millennials to learn that in the not-so-distant past, women artists and authors were shoved into a dark, windowless corner. Male talent was openly promoted and authors George Sand and Isak Dinesen were, in fact, Amantine Dupin and Karen Blixen. JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame purposely whittled her name to initials with the hopes to attract her target male audience.

Close with Jonathan Pryce as her husband, Professor Joe Castlemann, in The Wife. Courtesy Front Row Filmed Entertainment

In her personal life, Close has been “the wife” on four brief occasions. In this film, she effortlessly acts the part of a devoted second fiddle who has been married for 40 years. “I had a lot of questions about her in the beginning,” says Close, sharing her thought process for transforming into what she calls “a woman without any real self-confidence, and who is very much in love with her husband.” Her main concern was that Joan be credible to others who might have experienced a parallel story. “I didn’t want women watching to scream, ‘Just leave him.’ I wanted them to understand why that didn’t happen until it did. In answering that question, I started building the character in this gray world.”

The film follows Joan’s journey to Stockholm, where her husband will accept his Nobel Prize in literature. It features flashback scenes of the couple’s early years, where both start out as novice writers. The young Joan is played by Close’s only child, actor Annie Starke.

Close’s daughter, Annie Starke, as the young Joan in The Wife. Courtesy Front Row Filmed Entertainment

Should Close again be nominated for an Oscar, there’s a chance she might wear Zac Posen on the red carpet. “Zac is one of my go-to designers. He is a master of construction and knows how to make a body look really good,” she says. For the 2012 Academy Awards, Posen dressed her in a mermaid, strapless gown with a satin lapel dinner jacket. She wore Posen again to the Toronto premiere of The Wife, this time choosing a black halterneck gown. Whether she’ll take home the gong or not, Close is already signed on for another project – this time on the stage, in the role of Joan of Arc’s mother in Mother of the Maid. “It’s terrifying. But I am still finding new things to do that excite me.”

The Wife will be released at cinemas across the UAE on Thursday, September 27.

Now Read: Why Saudi Actor Aiysha Hart is the Star That Hollywood Needs

View All
Vogue Collection