Close Up

Oscar Nominees Glenn Close and Janet McTeer talk about their work on ''Albert Nobbs''

Interviews by Randy Shulman
Published on February 2, 2012, 7:17am | Comments

In the intimate, delicately wrought period drama Albert Nobbs, Glenn Close transforms herself into a 19th century Irishman who is concealing the fact that he is biologically a she. On the surface, Albert has been hiding his gender to maintain his post as a waiter. But there are deeper, profoundly personal reasons for Albert's choice that become apparent as the film's narrative travels its steady, quiet path.

Close portrays Nobbs with a timid, withdrawn air. If the character itself seems lifeless, it's because Albert himself has no life.

Glenn Close and Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs

Glenn Close and Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs

But that changes when Albert meets a kindred spirit in Hubert, another Irish woman passing in society as a man. Portrayed by Janet McTeer, Hubert is everything that Albert isn't. Happy, content, enveloped in a strong, warm marriage, and boasting a cocksure confidence that makes him potently larger than life. The friendship opens up Albert to new possibilities, new hopes, new dreams.

Albert's awakening is both breathtaking and heartbreaking – mostly because, this being a film set in a scarlet fever-plagued Ireland, we know things aren't necessarily going to end up very well.

Last week, both Close and McTeer were rewarded for their rich, magnificent performances with Oscar nominations – the former for Best Actress, the latter for Best Supporting Actress. But in the week prior, they were on the phone with Metro Weekly during a short break in the shooting of the final season of Close's bracing legal drama, Damages (in which McTeer has a featured role), to shed insight on Albert Nobbs and its two distinctly different gender-bending characters.

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