Glenn Close is back as tough-as-nails attorney Patty Hewes in the acclaimed drama Damages. Inspired by recent events in the world’s economic collapse, in Season 3, Patty is appointed by the U.S. government to recover billions of dollars lost in the largest investment fraud in Wall Street history. The new case pits Patty against the powerful Tobin family, which brings her face-to-face with Marilyn Tobin (Lily Tomlin) and her family lawyer, Leonard Winston (Martin Short).
I spoke with Glenn Close, who won her second consecutive Emmy Award last year for the series, about the show which premiered last week.
A number of years ago, shortly before you did a season on The Sheild, you said you would be very reluctant to get into an hour-long TV drama because of the hours involved. Here you are in your third season of Damages. What’s fueling your energy and keeping you going at this point?
Always the writing, and because of the writing, the actors that I’m working with. My first scene with Martin Short and Lily Tomlin is when I’m deposing Lily.
I was sitting across from the two of them in our conference room on the set, and it was a very surreal experience, having watched them my whole career and loved them. And I can’t tell you how invigorating and inspiring and fun it is.
For me, it’s just pure fun. You get a well-written scene, and you have actors that can do anything that’s asked of them, and have a million ideas.
Because of the pace that we work at, in many ways it’s like an improv because you have to be very quick on your feel. You have to able to learn lines very fast and then to be able to move around in those lines and make it authentic and believable. It’s just a great process.
So many people were hurt by Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, are you familiar with any of your friends or people you knew who were hurt by it?
I have some, not close friends, but I have some friends that I knew were affected.
Actually a family in my building lost millions and millions of dollars, and I knew that because the girl who had worked for them full-time was let go and they really were having to totally redesign their life; but I don’t have any intimate friends who were affected.
Was the fact that Patty at first, at least, is doing something good, she’s trying to get the money back, make it easy for you to play the part?
Oh, yeah. I think Patty’s goals are always pretty good. She doesn’t like bullies. She fights for people who can’t fight.
Patty’s MO is that she hates bullies, but she can be a bully too, when it comes to certain aspects of life. How do you reconcile that?
The end justifies the means? I think it’s actually a very authentic way that some people operate. I think Patty doesn’t want to lose and she’ll do whatever she needs to do not to lose.
I think she’s been tempered by what’s going on in the last two years, so I think she would think twice about certain things that she might not have before. She’s very bright. She’s very productive, and I think she gets annoyed by people very easily if they’re not up to her level.
When did you know you wanted to be an actress?
When I was about seven, I honestly think. I grew up watching very little television, and we had puppets and we had a wonderful landscape to run around on and we were always pretending, and it just seemed the natural thing to do.
I wanted to run away when I was little and knock on Walt Disney’s door because it was the time of the great classic movies that he was making, and it was something that I just always wanted to do. And it wasn’t about being a star, ever. It was about just pretending to be other people and enjoying that process.
Do people try to pump you for information about the twists and secrets on the show?
I never let the secrets out, and that’s very easy because I know they really don’t want to know. I’ve had people come up and say, ‘What’s in the box? Don’t tell me!’ So, I never tell.