Why Glenn Close Has a Bone to Pick With Prisoners

Photo: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan

When Vulture talked to Glenn Close at the third-annual Bring Change 2 Mind charity gala at the Garage earlier this week, she spoke passionately about mental illness — a condition two of her close family members suffer from — and how the way it’s often treated in the media has led to a reconsideration of the projects she might take. “I am keenly aware of what stigma does, so I’ve decided not to be in anything that enhances the stigma of having a mental illness,” she said. “Giving mental illness is a voice is important, and I will not take any role that furthers silence or shame. Mental illness is not entertainment.”

Has Close been sent scripts that stigmatized mental illness? “Yes, I’ve definitely turned down roles for that reason,” she said, including the recent Hugh Jackman film Prisoners, where Paul Dano and Melissa Leo play devious, possibly deranged characters. “When I read it, I was like, No way am I doing this,” said Close, who had been offered Leo’s role. “It was the way she was portrayed that was so atrocious to me. The entire thing made me sick to my stomach. The character was depicted in such a twisted way. When I read it, I thought, This is the type of thing that sets back any progress that we make in educating people on the subject of mental illness. I would never, never, never, ever, ever take a role like that in a million years. I’ve turned down other roles like that, but that one really bothered me. Promoting shame and encouraging stigmas is nothing I’m interested in.”