Glenn Close sat down with USA Today to discuss her latest role as the Vance family matriarch in Hillybilly Elegy, based on J.D. Vance’s memoir of his family. The film drops on Netflix today (Tuesday).
J.D., played by Gabriel Basso, is a Yale Law student who goes home when his abusive mother (Amy Adams) overdoses on heroine. Close plays his caring but tough grandmother. Close told USA Today that the real-life Mamaw “changed the room when she walked into it. She was very much larger than life,” says Close, who reunited with her Albert Nobbs hair-and-makeup team for her grandmotherly transformation. “And also she was very frail. She was not well: She probably had emphysema and she had a bad hip. It's interesting to play somebody (who's) a force of nature in a weak body.”
She said she saw echoes of it in her life growing up in Wyoming. “Though it's a very different culture, those people are kind of land-rich, cash-poor and work really hard and are very independent-minded. I've met people that kind of had the same outlook on life as Mamaw had,” Close says by phone from her home in Montana, where it’s getting “a little hairy” with COVID-19 surges. “Our hospital is apparently full. Montana went red all the way down the ticket and they don't believe in wearing masks, so a lot of them don’t.”
The 73-year-old has been nominated for an Oscar seven times. She said of possibly being nominated again: “I’ve gone without an Oscar for 40 years. I don't know how to answer that question. I was thrown by reading something that somebody wrote about how if I got it, it would be a consolation prize, which really kind of (ticked) me off. It was ignorant and I found it insulting actually about the craft of acting.”
On being hopeful about the future, she said: “You have to be, because what's the alternative? We all felt so great when Biden won and he won so decisively, but what's going on is so deeply disturbing and frightening. I think we're in for a long, rough time actually in this country. The divide has gotten so broadened and it really makes me incredibly sad when people can't listen or talk to each other anymore. But the election made me realize how much I love this country and how fragile our democracy is. We took it for granted for so long, and now we can't anymore.”
On her menu for Thanksgiving: “I'll certainly Zoom with my daughter, but my two sisters are going to come over to my house and we decided today what we're going to have to eat, because none of us want to gain weight. (Laughs) We decided roasted chicken and green beans, and we have to have sweet potatoes. But we won't have marshmallows on top.”