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Glenn Close on Donning ‘Full Drag’ for Guardians of the Galaxy

Glenn Close. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Wouldn’t you sleep a little easier if you knew that Glenn Close was in charge of keeping the universe safe? That’s the job she’s tasked with in the James Gunn–directed Guardians of the Galaxy, and while Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord handles a whole lot of the outer-space heroics alongside his titular band of misfits, he ultimately has to answer to Close’s Nova Prime, an important, intimidating peacekeeper with one swirly head of hair. Close is currently gearing up for a Broadway stint alongside John Lithgow in A Delicate Balance, but she called Vulture to discuss her Guardians wig, her favorite moment in the film, and why she thinks it’s become such a big hit.

The movie broke a lot of box-office records this weekend, and it got great reviews, too. What do you think it is that people are responding to?
Ultimately, I think it’s the heart, I really do. A guy I know called me today and said that he almost cried watching the movie! He was so embarrassed, but I thought that was great. There’s no substitute for heart, you know? You can have all the action in the world, you can have the most visually stunning movie, but what really gets people involved is some sort of emotional connection, and James got that. It’s a wonderful piece of entertainment, I think.

What moment in this film made you laugh the most?
There are so many moments! First of all, the first scene where Chris is dancing, in that costume, on a foreign planet? I thought that was just a perfect touch for the first few moments of the movie, and he moves fantastically. That made me laugh, but you know who I really love in the movie? Dave Bautista, who plays Drax. I thought his deadpan sense of humor was wonderfully drawn, and I laughed at a lot of the stuff that he did. A moment that I really like is when he pets Rocket Raccoon and Rocket has this look on his face like, Oh my God, somebody touched me. Do you remember that little moment? He’s like, I’ve never been touched before, and he’s touching me with affection … what do I do with it? Do I react to this? It’s one of the reasons that the movie works so well, because I believe in little moments like that. They make the movie extra-special.

There are a lot of fabulous character actors in this movie, like you and John C. Reilly and Benicio del Toro. What did James Gunn have to say to woo you onboard?
Nobody had to woo me! I’ve always wanted to be in a movie like this. To me, it’s the most fun to play something like the Judi Dench/Samuel L. Jackson role, where I’d be the head of all the peacekeepers in the galaxy. I didn’t hesitate for a moment.

We have to talk about your wig, Glenn. It’s epic.
Yes! The wig is a brilliant creation of Martial Corneville, who has been my wigmaker for years and was actually nominated for an Oscar for the two wigs he made for Janet McTeer and myself for Albert Nobbs. It was a concoction that we all came up with together. The first thing was this big shock of hair that came through some other hair, set up like a tunnel, and then he made it so it had this wonderful, rings-of-Saturn look. When I saw it, I said, “Oh my God, I don’t know about this!” But then I thought, Why not. I spent hours looking at all the costumes on the walls in Shepperton Studios because I found it fascinating the amount of research and fabric-testing and redrawing and innovation that went on for this movie. Even the material that Nova Prime’s outfit is made of — it’s this breathable wetsuit material that was very, very tricky to sew.

What are you going to do the first time you see someone dressed like Nova Prime for Halloween?
I’m kind of used to it! Cruella was a big Halloween costume, and a lot of people dress as her still. And I bet Alex Forrest got a Halloween costume somewhere, too. [Laughs.] This is one of those characters where you really have to be in full drag to feel who that person is. I must say, I think there are refinements we can make — she’s just introduced in this one, and hopefully, I’ll have more action in whatever comes up next.

Marvel announced Guardians 2 recently, which James Gunn will return to direct. How many movies did they ask you to sign on for, initially?
I have several in my contract, but you never know how anything’s going to land. I saw James at the premiere, and it was wonderful to see him again — we exchanged emails over the weekend. I also got a wonderful email from [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige, which really impressed me, that he would take time to do that. It just shows what kind of atmosphere is at Marvel, that they would be so generous in taking the time to let people know that they’re pleased with their work. I don’t take that for granted.

It’s possible that the Guardians may mingle with other Marvel superheroes in future movies. Whom would you want to act opposite? Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, perhaps?
Oh, that would be the dream! I’m a huge fan of his, I think he’s wonderful. But I’d love to do more with the five from Guardians, too. They all have such wonderful chops. You know, these movies are in our culture now in such a big way, and it’s interesting that it’s happening at a time where the world seems to be falling apart in many ways. People are getting a subliminal — or maybe not-so-subliminal — chunk of joy from a movie like this, where bad is conquered and people maintain their sense of humor. Because these days, there’s not that much to laugh about.

I definitely laughed in Guardians when you ended a call with an alien ambassador by muttering “prick” under your breath.
Saying “prick” is just fun. It just is. [Laughs.]

Glenn Close on Guardians of the Galaxy