Glenn Close came to the 13th Zurich Film Festival to screen her latest film, The Wife and to pick up her Golden Icon Award. Directed by Swedish filmmaker Björn Runge The Wife features the two-time Golden Globe winner as the “better half” of a successful writer (played by Jonathan Pryce) who re-evaluates her marriage when her husband wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Glenn Close’s daughter Annie Starke plays the younger version of the title role.
The Wife is the first film in which you both have starring roles, but you have no scenes together because you play the same character at different times in her life. Did you still supervise your daughter one the set, Ms. Close?
Glenn Close: No, Annie and Harry Lloyd shot their scenes first and I decided that when they were working I would go away. It is her part, I didn’t want Annie to think she has a mother that hovers around.
Annie Starke: I’m sure I speak for everybody: I don’t think anyone would want their mother hovering around at work. It was wonderful she could have fun in the country when I was working. But we talked about the character quite a bit - the film almost did not get made a few times, so we had time to develop the character.
You play a writer. Do you like writing yourselves?
Annie Starke: I haven’t written anything yet.
Glenn Close: That’s not true you have written with friends.
Annie Starke: Yes but nothing that I am confident enough to talk about.
Glenn Close: What I like about Annie and her friends: This generation doesn’t just sit around. They write things, one of her friends has a deal now for his own show.
Annie Starke: Nobody would hire him, so he created something on his own. You can not wait. As they say in the film: Writers have to write. And creators have to create.
Can you relate to your character Joan Castleman who spent her life in service to her husband?
Glenn Close: Yes. I can relate to that. The film takes place in a different time, but it is never a happy situation. Ideally, you should be able to have a love in your life and be able to be who you are and to do what you do. My mother basically sacrificed everything to be with my father. They got married when they were very young. He had a great education, she never finished high school. At the end of her life, in her mid-eighties, she said: «I feel like I accomplished nothing.» That made me incredibly sad because she could have accomplished a lot.
Who stands behind you who does not get enough credit for who you are today?
Glenn Close: My dog Pip [laughs] - but he does get credit in the film because he is in the film!
Annie Starke: My Dad. He is another hero of mine. Unfortunately, it took him a long time to come to terms with my profession of choice.
Were you also nervous about your daughter becoming an actress?
Glenn Close: You can’t be in this profession as long as I have and not be nervous about it, but I also observed her since the day she was born. And I think she chose the right thing for herself, even though it is incredibly difficult and as a parent you want your child to be fulfilled and happy in what they do.
Annie Starke: We get that question a lot. My mother gets basically asked how she let this happen. But if you love what you do and if you love to get up in the morning why wouldn’t you want that for your child? Of course, it is a crazy, beautiful, complex industry, but she and my father as a producer got into it wholeheartedly and with gumption. So I have great role models. With a lot of professions when you have a successful parent and you follow in their footsteps, you step on shaky grounds because people are easy to pass judgment. I knew what I wanted to do from a very young age, it made sense to me - it’s just a part of who I am. It came as no surprise to my parents, they saw it coming miles away. It’s tough but it’s a beautiful struggle. It’s hard work and you have to have something to offer, on your own merit, you have to stay passionate and hungry through the good the bad and the ugly. And here I am.
Ms. Close, you got the Golden Icon Award for your career achievements here at the 13th Zurich Film Festival. What do awards mean to you?
Glenn Close: I’m highly honored to be the recipient of this award - I am also at a time in my career where there is a lot to look back on. What I find most important is that you do work that is authentic to you and that you feel fulfilled and challenged by and that you chose stories that hopefully don’t only resonate with you but also with other people. And last but not least that you spend your creative life with people who are worth leaving home for because finding a balance between work and family is always going to be a challenge.