Glenn Close ‘Damages’ Interview

Glenn Close FX Damages

Chit Chat Gal got a chance to speak with Glenn Close about the ultra addictive thriller 'Damages' and her soon to be Emmy nominated character Patty Hewes. The season finale of 'Damages' airs tonight at 10:00PM EST on FX.
Chit Chat Gal: We’ve kind of seen Ellen go from doe-eyed lawyer to cutthroat negotiator.  Do you think Patty sees herself in Ellen as a protégé or has she always been part of that manipulation of the end game?  And with that, have you kind of helped Rose to kind of become what you’ve made Patty become?

Glenn Close:  Ruthless?

Chit Chat Gal:   Yes.

Glenn Close: Rosie Ruthless.  I think over the course of these various episodes that Patty, whether she’ll fully admit it or not, develops a respect for Ellen’s talents and for who she is as a human being.  I don’t think Patty considers herself a great mentor.  I think she’s too competitive for that.  And I think there are certain things about Ellen, her youth for one thing, that she has no tools to compete against.  

She’s always kind of hovering between developing her or nurturing her and making sure she’s not going to invade her territory.  So I think it makes a very kind of juicy relationship.  But I think as they bond with some of the things that they do that only they know about, that there is something that’s starting to form in their relationship, where I think Patty does care about Ellen and doesn’t just see her, as she did in the beginning, as only a means to get to Katie Conner.

You had a very critically acclaimed turn with 13 episodes on The Shield.  And I’m wondering what lured you back to TV, given your success as a feature and stage actor?

Glenn Close: Well, when I finished The Shield, I loved working on FX a lot.  I really had a lot of respect for Peter Liguori, who was the head of FX at the time and John Landgraf, who is the head right now.  I like the way they take risks and they give really gifted writers a lot of creative leeway.  So I kind of casually said to John, “If you ever can think of anything in New York, just let me know.”  And lo and behold, I guess it was about a year later, I was told that these three guys wanted to pitch me an idea.  It would be shot in New York, which was imperative for me, because I can’t go to California, because of my family.

So we sat down and talked about it and I said, “It sounds really intriguing; I’ll wait to read the pilot.”  I read the pilot and I said, “Wow, this is really good.”  So on the strength of that one script and the fact that I’d be working in my backyard close to my family, I said, “I think this has become a no-brainer.”  I was teamed up with FX again and a really incredible cast and crew and writers.

How much information you were given ahead of time about Patty’s character, how much you created in your own mind for her and how that shaped your portrayal of this character?

Glenn Close: That for me was the trickiest exercise of all, because this is the first time I’ve played a character that didn’t have a beginning, middle and end.  And when I have a character, I know where they start and where they end.  Then you go nuts creating a back story, because it’s all potentially there.  And even if the audience doesn’t have an idea of all your secrets, you’re allowed to have secrets.  And I think it always informs behavior in a very crucial way.  So it was very disconcerting for me in the beginning to not know a lot about Patty.

I had gone with the writers to meet Mary Jo White and her partner.  Mary Jo was just an iconic lawyer who was the DA here and we got a lot of information out of her.  I knew that I wanted to be a woman who was at the top of her game, who was highly intelligent and highly capable, really formidable, because you have to be if you’re the head of a firm.  To get where she is in this profession, you have to be a thousand times better than any guy that you’re going to be standing next to.  So that was important to me.

But as far as her back story, I had to kind of give it up, because I asked them if I could formulate my own back story and they kind of said not to, because they want to keep their options open.  I might know a little bit more than you now, but not much.  And I kind of think it’s one of the thrilling aspects.  It has become the thrilling aspect of this collaboration, because you actually feel like you’re living a novel, you’re living something out.  Like life, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.  But I think as I get to know more and more about her, I will be able to deepen her, my portrayal of her.