Glenn Close prepares for new season of “Damages”
BY GREG HERNANDEZ
Glenn Close doesn’t want to give away too many secrets about the third season of her legal drama “Damages” which premieres Monday night on FX.
But she does quickly offer up this tidbit about some of the changes her character of Patty Hewes has undergone since we saw her last: “Her hair is looser and longer! ” Close says, laughing. “It’s been deconstructed a little bit.”
Of course there is far more going on with the brilliant yet ruthless Patty than her terrific hair. After all, it’s a part so meaty that Close has won two consecutive Emmy Awards playing her. This season, the high-profile litigator takes on a case involving a kind of Madoff-like Ponzi financial scheme. Patty is the court appointed lawyer trying to recover any hidden money so she has her work cut out for her.
“I think she’s back on her game,” Close told a small group of reporters at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena. “I think last season she was very, very off-balance and disturbed. But I think now she’s back but back after having gone through some pretty traumatic experiences.”
Among those experiences were Patty being stabbed in an elevator in the second season finale. But she survives to litigate and manipulate another day.
This season brings some new cast members to the drama who are quite familiar to television audiences, but more for their comedic roles: Martin Short and Lily Tomlin.
“I was thrilled,” Close said of the cast additions. “I think they’re both geniuses. And I actually think comedy is harder than drama so if they can do comedy they can certainly do drama. And I also think it’s very important for drama to have a sense of wit. It’s very, very delicate. If you take yourself too seriously, then that’s too much. They bring the right balance.”
Close has long been used to the pace of television which is far quicker than most feature films. Each episode of “Damages” takes eight days to complete and her presence is required for about an average of four of those days. Filming on season three is due to wrap in late March and, Close says, “If they renew it again, I guess we’ll start again in the fall.”
She hopes to do a movie during the hiatus but has always been content to act in whatever medium has the best part to offer.
While female movie stars like Holly Hunter, Kyra Sedgwick, Jada Pinkett-Smith and now Laura Linney are now headlining television series, “Damages” is far from Close’s first foray into television even as she was in the process of earning five Academy Award nominations for such films as “Fatal Attraction,” “Dangerous Liaisons” and “The World According to Garp” and starring in the huge Disney hit “101 Dalmatians” and its sequel.
Starting with the acclaimed 1983 film “Something About Amelia” about incest in a family, Close has starred in such TV projects as “In the Gloaming” as the mother of a man dying of AIDS, a remake of the musical “South Pacific,” and in the popular “Sarah, Bright and Tall” movie and its two sequels. She won her first Emmy for her role as a lesbian booted from the military in Serving in Silence and won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in a remake of “A Lion In Winter.”
“I think it’s the advent of cable where writers are a little more free to pursue their vision and a lot of them find women interesting as we are,” says Close, also a three-time Tony winner. “There’s a real opportunity there.”
Why are so many big-name actresses willing to take roles on the small screen now?
“I think there’s now less stigma against being on television which was huge when I first did television,” says Close. “I did television for the first time right after I did my first movie and I was told it would ruin my career. I just never believed that. I said, ‘What about the English?’ Look at Judi Dench, Helen Mirren. They’ve not only been on television, they’ve had their own series. It’s where the quality of writing is as far as I’m concerned. I think good actors will go where there’s writing and I think we’re kind of in a Golden Age for writing for American television. Luckily we’re part of that.”
Photo courtesy of FX.