'Damages' done, Glenn Close ready for break

Glenn Close stars as Patty Hewes on the Glenn Close stars as Patty Hewes on the FX series "Damages." Photo Credit: FX

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"Damages" star Glenn Close knows, but won't reveal, major spoilers about her legal drama, whose fifth and final season begins Wednesday at 9 p.m. on DirecTV's Audience Network.

But the northern Westchester County resident does shine a light on what she believes will unfold in real life: namely, a break from acting, now that her TV series and most recent feature film, "Albert Nobbs," have wrapped.

"I finally made this movie that I wanted to make for 14 years; we finally pulled that off," Close said while lounging in a suite at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel during the June 26 "Damages" press junket. "We finished 'Damages,' which is a great feeling of closure and pride. And honestly, I know I'm not ready to leap into anything right now, so, I'm thinking I'll know when that time is, but I'm very happy to kind of take some time off."

Helping her ease into a self-imposed hiatus, she says, is her satisfaction with the TV series' final episodes. That comfort, she adds, is due in large part to the "Damages" writing team of Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler and Todd A. Kessler.

"I think it's as good as the pilot, and that's saying a lot," Close said. "I'm really happy with the way it ended."

Despite winning two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the high-powered and ethically challenged lawyer Patty Hewes on "Damages," Close says her aptitude for the legal profession is limited to on-screen dramatics.

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"I'd be a terrible lawyer," she said. "You have to do a lot of reading of very dry stuff. I don't think I could do that. I'm not wired to do it. I don't have that kind of brain ... It's fun to play it, but I could never be it in real life."

At one time, Close related to Hewes' professional drive and ambition. "To be at a point in my career that I have been, you have to be driven to make something of yourself in this profession," she said. "But I'm in a great place."

As Hewes, Close has an increasingly vicious and dysfunctional on-screen rivalry with Rose Byrne, who plays Ellen Parsons. The final season of "Damages" will feature the two in a ruthless showdown, in and out of court, and, Close says, will shed some light on the family situations that shaped these characters.

"I think it is a very fascinating psychological battle between Ellen and Patty, because they go up against each other in this big case," Close said. "And it, really, for me is kind of a culmination of Patty's manipulative brilliance."

But in reality, Close contended, the two aren't quite that competitive, as evidenced by a visit to her family house in New England. "Rosie once visited us in Maine, and we played beach boccie," Close added with a laugh. "I can't remember how she did."

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A six-time Academy Award nominee -- including one for her performance in "Albert Nobbs" -- as well as a three-time Tony Award winner, Close finds episodic television acting different from cinematic and theatrical work, but uniquely appealing.

"Long-form drama, especially now -- which I think is kind of a golden age of writing for American television -- is a true art form," Close said. "I think it's our 20th century version of what [Charles] Dickens was when he was writing. It's a luxury for an actor to actually create a history over time with a character, with the other characters, in a story. And I think the writing and storytelling is as compelling as some of the great novelists."

Now that "Damages" is coming to an end, Close might be limiting her acting commitments, but she said she can see herself devoting more time to her charity, Bring Change 2 Mind, which aims to improve awareness and acceptance of those who face mental illness. Close's sister, Jessie, is bipolar, and her nephew, Calen Pick, has a schizo-affective disorder.

"The most effective thing is for people to meet people with mental illness and realize that all the cliches, and all the images, that largely come through the media, are not the norm," Close said.

A break from performing might not be the only refuge that Close seeks. Asked whether there was anything about "Damages," her life or her career that she wishes would receive more press, Close laughed and flipped the question.

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"I'd argue that there's too much that's stated these days," she said. "I think, in some ways, because of our instant communication and tweeting and hashtags and all that, that we're in a danger of becoming a people who don't know how to reflect anymore. We don't know how to be in the quiet of our own thoughts, and I think that's very important."

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