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Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce on new drama, "The Wife." Aired 11- 11:30p ET
Aired July 30, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program. ahead, is this the film that will finally win Glenn Close an Oscar? His new literary
movie, "The Wife," is a devastating look at sexism, creativity and a marriage under strain. My conversation with Glenn Close and her co-star
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
From Hollywood to Wall Street and points in between, misogyny and systemic sexism are being outed everywhere we look, which is why the new drama, "The
Wife," starring six-time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce feels particularly poignant and relevant.
Based on a novel by the best-selling author Meg Wolitzer, "The Wife," centers around a writer, who spent her life overshadowed by her husband's
own literary career and massive ego. Take a listen to this trailer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I speaking to Mr. Castleman?
JONATHAN PRYCE, ACTOR: Id' like my wife to get on the extension.
GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS: Hello, (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is my great honor to tell you, Mrs. Castleman, that you have been chosen to receive the Nobel Prize in literature.
PRYCE: Tell me this isn't some great, big, fat joke.
CLOSE: It's all real, darling. Breathe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Stockholm. We are so delighted to have you here.
PRYCE: Then I came across some of your stories in the college journal. Beautifully written.
CLOSE: Joe had a very heavy hand as a teacher.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he encourage you to keep writing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, this goes to the heart of women's careers traditionally taking a back seat and it is already gaining Oscar buzz. In fact, Glenn
Close is the living actor with the most Oscar nominations never to have won one.
She has played everything from supervillains to femme fatale, but she says she still feels like an outsider. And although Jonathan Pryce has won two
Tonys, at acting school, he was told by his tutor that he would never amount to much of anything. It is safe to say that from Game of Thrones to
Miss Saigon, Pryce has proved that tutor wrong.
I spoke to Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce when they joined me to talk about this new work from New York.
Welcome to both of you. Glenn and Jonathan, welcome to the program.
CLOSE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, I've seen the movie. It is really a tour de force from both of you. And it is, as a woman, I have to say, it really, really, really
hits a nerve and it hits a point.
Not giving away anything except for that you, Jonathan, your character, Joe, wins the Nobel Prize. You, Glenn, your character Joan doesn't. And
yet, you are a writer yourself.
So, first and foremost, what drew you to this role, Glenn, first, where you are a woman in the shadow of her incredibly accomplished and creative
CLOSE: Well, it was all new a psychological emotional territory for me. And there were a lot of questions I had going in. So, I thought the challenge
was enticing. And I thought it was a beautiful script adapted from a wonderful novel. And I met Bjorn Runge and felt that we would be in great
AMANPOUR: Jonathan, how did you feel about the role?
PRYCE: Well, the role itself is some something that was very attractive to me, to play a man with an enormous ego, a public image. And what the film
examines is how he came to be that enormously famous, accomplished man and whether it was all his own doing.
I was attracted to the - initially to the script itself, which I think is very intelligent, very spare, economical script, telling a very interesting
story, a new look at a long-lasting relationship.
As Glenn said, I met Bjorn and liked him enormously, liked his films. I saw - watched two of his Swedish films. And there was always a prospect of
working with Glenn, which was even more attractive and playing a man with a big ego.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm interested, did you both find the creative tension as interesting as the marriage tension or the evolution of a relationship? Was
it the relationship, the personal or the professional that was the most significant here? Or could you not sort of separate them?
[23:05:04] CLOSE: Well, it's an amazing portrait, I think, of a very complex relationship. And so, I think it's very hard to separate the two,
but - it's interesting - we've seen it three times, I think, together with an audience and we each came away last night with new kind of revelations.
What Jonathan told me last night was that, in the beginning, Joan, my character, says to the young Joe, don't leave me, please don't leave me.
And in the end, it's the older Joe saying to Joan, don't leave me, please don't leave me.
AMANPOUR: It really does come full circle, doesn't it? It really is incredible. So, let's just take it a little bit chronologically. We saw in
the trailer where you both were so happy, the two of you - an audience would be forgiven to think that you, the wife, were just so thrilled when
your wonderful, creative husband was called by the Nobel Committee and told that he won the Nobel Prize.
And then, fast forward to when you get to Stockholm and you're having this cocktail - and we're going to play the clip - where you, Joe, are talking
about Joan and explaining to a fellow Nobel writer, rather a fellow Nobel winner, what just happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRYCE: My wife doesn't write, thank God. Otherwise, I'd suffer permanent writer's block.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't ever think that you can get their approval. It's the men, the ones who decide who gets to be taken seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A writer has to write.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Writer has to be read, honey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's a little bit of a mashup from the trailer, but that poignant moment when you're introducing your wife, I mean, I felt
something. What did you feel then, Glenn?
CLOSE: I felt invisible. And I think that's a very real thing for spouses of famous people to be made to feel invisible, either by the people who
approach those famous - that famous spouse or by the spouse themselves. It felt like a very real situation to me.
AMANPOUR: Did either of you have any sort of experiences like that in your real lives? I mean, Glenn, have you felt overshadowed by a husband or a
partner or a co-star?
CLOSE: Well -
CLOSE: I mean, the obvious, but no. Well, I think, in some ways, for me, it's almost been the opposite to be a successful - I mean, known around the
world for my work, it's been extremely difficult to find a partner who can deal with that.
AMANPOUR: OK. That's really interesting.
PRYCE: And I have - sorry, and I have a partner, now a wife, and it works both ways. I think the last thing that Kate ever wants to do is - when you
go into functions like we've been doing the last few days, going to premieres and that particular person, in this case, me is in the spotlight
and everyone wants to talk to you and your partner, be it male or female, always gets shoved into the background and Kate stopped going now. It's
CLOSE: Yes, it's really hard.
PRYCE: She didn't come on this trip. You don't want to be the wife. You don't want to be the husband.
AMANPOUR: Honestly, I think it's so interesting that because you can never satisfy either, either the either the star or the person who's not
necessarily the star because it's just always a little bit difficult. Just quickly, Jonathan, you and your wife are both actor, actresses, right?
AMANPOUR: Yes. And, Glenn, you particularly don't want to be called an actor. We hear a lot of women now calling themselves actors, but you call
yourself an actress. Is there a reason for that?
CLOSE: Yes, because I think for some reason - well, I think maybe actor is supposed to be generic. I guess that's where that came from, but I don't
want to ever feel that actress is less because there's a two Ss in actress.
When I first started our own, I told my parents that I wanted to be an actress. They thought it would be bad for my character. That's very
So, yes, I purposely say actress because I'm proud to be female and I'm proud to be an actress, but I understand the generic use of the word actor.
PRYCE: And I feel the same about actor, actress. And I think if you now start to adopt actor as the cover-all title, you're denying history. And
you're saying that those people who were called an actress in the past weren't actually as good as the male equivalent.
[23:10:09] CLOSE: That's what I feel.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's an important point to make. And, obviously, it's not lost on anybody that this film is coming out at this particular time,
almost a year after the #MeToo movement started, after Hollywood was turned upside down by the overt - I don't know - abuse, violence and sexism, of
Do you feel - are you getting a lot of reaction, both of you, to the times in which this movie is coming out?
CLOSE: Oh, absolutely, because I think this movie fits right in there in two different ways. I think it took 14 years for a movie called "The Wife"
to be made, written by the - the screenplay by a female based on a novel by a female. So, that's in itself - we had a female - Rosalie Swedlin was the
main producer. Many, many, other female producers.
So, for me, it was hard to find an American actor who would be in a film called "The Wife", and I think it really is - I bow to Jonathan that he saw
the value of this script and how what a magnificent part the husband actually was. But he did say he would prefer if it was (INAUDIBLE).
PRYCE: Well, you can't have a wife without a husband. That's for sure. And I think, it's a kind of coincidence that the it's out now because this was
something - the original screenplay was 14 years ago, but these issues of male-female power relationships go back to time immemorial.
I mean, one of my first plays that I did in Liverpool that I directed and later acted in is "The Taming of the Shrew", and we used that play as a
vehicle to show the inequalities in male-female relationships.
AMANPOUR: Now, let's get back to the film and to the struggle between husband and wife. And it's sort of portrayed a little bit also in the
struggle between your son, who is a writer and who is desperately seeking his father's approval, and there's a scene in a car as you're on the way to
an event. Let's play it and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLOSE: Not easy being your son.
PRYCE: Oh, come on. It's not easy being anyone' son.
CLOSE: You would act a little prouder of him.
PRYCE: Or he could work a little harder. We wouldn't be doing the kid any favor telling him he's brilliant.
CLOSE: I think he has talent.
PRYCE: Well, you should tell him.
CLOSE: Doesn't mean anything coming from me, just to hear it from you.
PRYCE: Shouldn't need my approval to write.
CLOSE: Everyone needs approval, Joe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: There's so many things to unpick there. But tell me about approval, Jonathan. What has approval and the seeking of approval meant in
PRYCE: Well, I think of approval as encouragement really. And I've had a lot of encouragement in the later part of my career. Throughout my earlier
life, when I was at school and every educational establishment I went to, I was told I was nothing and I would never do anything with my life, by
headmasters and teachers and eventually even my tutor at the Royal Academy when I was studying, who told me I would only ever be good enough to play
villains on TV show called "Z-Cars."
And I didn't take it on then as something that I had to fight against them, but it's something I think that happens to you unconsciously. And if you
have a glimmer of confidence in yourself, this will grow from this discouragement.
But it's very pertinent, that side of the story, to do with my son because I'm the father of two sons and a daughter. And I think it's fortunate that
the one who's followed me into mother's and father's profession is our daughter.
I think that makes our relationship easier somehow, but that we're not in competition with each other. I'm glad this theme is exposed in this film.
PRYCE: It's an aspect of a long relationship, as we say, but this film is about a family and how they cope with all kinds of things.
[23:15:00] AMANPOUR: And, Glenn, your daughter, talking about offspring, is actually in the film and she plays the young you, which is incredible. But
to go back to the son in the film and how he is the one who kind of opens the floodgates.
CLOSE: Yes. And I think Joan has terrible guilt about her children.
AMANPOUR: But what about her children? Not being authentic for her children?
CLOSE: Not being there. I mean, I can relate to that because my wonderful Annie, I remember when she was 3, I guess, you're wise when you're 3,
looked up at me and said I want you. I want all of you.
And I think what I was doing I was producing a lot at the time, so I might have been home, but I wasn't there. I was thinking. I was away. I was not
present totally and a child can sense that.
So, I think the times when Joan who was actually with him, she wasn't with him because she was she was doing what she was born to do. And I think she
always chose that over her children and it had consequences.
AMANPOUR: It is a wonderful, wonderful film. And I think we've explored some really interesting aspects of it. Glenn, you, as I said in the
introduction, are the most nominated actress alive, living performer for an Academy Award who hasn't won yet.
And there are many, many performances that people thought you should have won for. And I'm going to rerack all the way back to "Fatal Attraction,"
which potentially put you into the stratosphere after playing den mothers in the "Big Chill" and et cetera.
You then went on to this. And here's a clip and we'll see whether it sparks some memories.
AMANPOUR: So, it's kind of sinister. It's not the bunny boiling part, but I wonder whether you've had to live with that your whole career because it
shaped a whole generation of moviegoers and people. And it scared men a lot. And you've said that you didn't see her as a villain. You had a more
sympathetic view of Alex.
CLOSE: Oh, absolutely, yes. No, I have to find a place where I can love every character that I play. I have to come from that point of view because
otherwise I think you judge them. And if you judge a character, you separate yourself from them.
So, I did a lot of thinking, a lot of talking to psychiatrists. And the woman that I was playing was certainly not a villain.
AMANPOUR: And, Jonathan, you played villains. What do you get from playing that kind of character?
PRYCE: Well, I think I have the same approach as Glenn, in that you don't think of your character as a villain. You just be try to be honest to the
character. And it's for other people to judge by the character's actions whether they're the villain or not.
They're often the best-written roles. And I have tended to play over the years either people who are very, very good or very, very bad. And Joe,
it's open to interpretation. But I've just played Pope Francis.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I was going to get to that. Yes.
AMANPOUR: No, no, no, it's great. I mean, you're playing him in a new role along with Anthony Hopkins, right?
PRYCE: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: He plays Benedict.
PRYCE: Yes, he is in the Glenn role in that one. He's still very unhappy, Tony, because I was number one on the call sheet and he was number two and
he keeps sending me emails. He's not going to let me forget it.
And the irony is that High Sparrow, when I took that role in "Game of Thrones," who was a leader of a cult, I likened him to Pope Francis because
he was a man who - he was all for the poor. He would profess to be, we are the many, you are the few; and when the many will take over, don't worry.
He washed people's feet. He fed them. He did everything that the Pope did when he became Pope, little knowing that I would also get to be the Pope.
[23:20:00] But I was saying all this not having seen the scripts for this following season where he turned into the complete nightmare of a man, but
I still believed that he was right in what he did.
Like Glenn says, you don't comment. If you comment on your character, you're taking the work away from the audience.
AMANPOUR: And you've just mentioned Pope Francis, obviously, who is revered around the world for his piety and for his populism in a way that he
actually relates to people. Not the sort of nationalistic political populism that we're seeing.
Glenn, it just, obviously, leads me to ask you about your childhood because, in a different religious way, when you were 7, I believe, your
family took you into a cult. If I'm not mistaken, it was called the Moral Rearmament Cult.
AMANPOUR: You left in the end. But just how did it affect you, I mean, in your formative years?
CLOSE: It was devastating because I think, as a child, when you're 7, you want to please and you want to please your parent, but the cult becomes
your parent. So, because of my nature, I became the good little soldier and then, ultimately, you feel incredibly betrayed. It's highly complex.
And five years ago, I went to a childhood trauma therapist because I still was being affected by trigger points that were created during the 15 years
that I was in that cult.
AMANPOUR: Yeah. I mean, 15 years. From 7 until, I think, 22, right? I mean, those are such important formative years.
CLOSE: I know. I had a very empty toolbox.
CLOSE: Yes, I went straight from that to college and walked into the theater department at the College of William and Mary and started to come
alive, I think, as a human or whatever.
But I made a conscious decision to not trust any of my instincts because they had all been basically dictated to me.
PRYCE: And you lived at home with your parents doing that?
CLOSE: No, no. They sold our house. We lived in centers. And they were away a lot. So, yes, a lot of times, we were in the same building, but we, the
children, weren't necessarily together.
AMANPOUR: It's quite scary to actually even think about that, knowing the little we do know about some of the other cults out there.
Just also, I was interested to read that it was Katharine Hepburn who kind of triggered your desire to be an actress, is that right?
CLOSE: Not quite because I wanted to be an actress, I'd say, the first time I saw a Disney movie because we existed, in my early childhood, in this
wonderful countryside in Connecticut and we existed in the world of make- believe.
We had puppets. We had our little gang. And we were always pretending. So, I felt that that - I always had an incredibly active imagination. So, I
knew kind of what wanted to do, but I also felt very ignorant when I got out of the cult.
So, I was 22 when I was a freshman, majored in theater, minored in anthropology, and it was my senior year that I saw the Dick Cavett
interview that Hepburn did on television.
I was painting scenery backstage, and it riveted me. It was riveting. And something inside me said if that's what you want to do, you do it. And I
went the next day to the head of the theater department, who was my wonderful mentor and said, please nominate me for these national auditions.
And I went and I got my first job in New York that fall.
AMANPOUR: It's amazing.
PRYCE: I can hear Katharine Hepburn in Glenn's voice occasionally. And it takes me back to thinking if Katherine Hepburn could have played this, and
I like to think I'm Jimmy Stewart.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, maybe you look a little like Jimmy Stewart. You certainly look a little like Pope Francis.
But, look, I want to say something, just sort of wrap this up. It's, obviously, not unusual for men of a certain age to keep getting parts. It's
more difficult for women of a certain age to keep getting parts.
And, Glenn, you are still going gangbusters, getting fantastic, fantastic roles. And it's a real tribute and it's a real inspiration to us to see
But it reminds me of the beginning of the film, when you two open your film, "The Wife", with a sex scene and it's kind of funny. So, tell us
about it. I mean, old people - sorry, elderly people.
[23:25:07] AMANPOUR: That's not where a lot of the people are getting -
CLOSE: I've never felt more sexy, which is kind of ironic.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's good.
PRYCE: That scene was shot on our very first day of filming.
AMANPOUR: Are you serious?
PRYCE: In the bed together.
PRYCE: But it was - we knew it was - well, but based in what - I don't know, but we knew there was a punch line to it. But, yes, I was surprised
that people - when the first time it was mentioned during one of our press conferences and I was like, what, sex scene. I was -
AMANPOUR: You'd forgotten?
PRYCE: At my age.
AMANPOUR: So, Glenn, that's interesting what you just said. You've never felt so alive and sexy.
CLOSE: A late bloomer.
AMANPOUR: I like that. I'm going to end right there. Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, thank you so, so much. It's a wonderful, wonderful film. Stars of
CLOSE: Wonderful to talk to you.
PRYCE: Thank you. Thanks.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at Amanpour.com and you can follow me on
Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you for watching. And goodbye from London.