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Acting Like a Man

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“I felt that it’s much more than just a story about this invisible person. It ultimately for me comes down to the fact that I think we need, in order to have maybe a successful life, to start with a place of safety where you can have some sort of connection to another human being.”

“I always felt that I was held together with Scotch tape and paper clips, and as an actor that’s good.”

Close, who lives in the West Village with her husband, investor David Shaw, comes from a profoundly Waspy Connecticut family. But any safety and connection she might’ve felt from all that history was undermined by her family’s decision to join a right-wing change-the-world movement called Moral Re-Armament when she was 7. Close stayed involved in it, even touring the world as part of its musical cavalcade, Up With People, until she went to college at 22. “It was a cult, where everyone was told to think alike, and that’s devastating,” she says. Her family was “sort of pulled apart.” Afterward, “I decided that I would not trust even my instincts. Because I didn’t know what they were. Every­thing had been dictated. It also gives you a huge sense of looking from the outside in, and I think that in many ways that has been very good as an actor, because you are somebody who is asked to go into a ­character … I always felt that I was held together with Scotch tape and paper clips, and as an actor that’s good.” She laughs lightly about this, conscious of its possible absurdity.

She’s looking forward to Damages winding up. “It’s bittersweet. Patty has been a great character.” But, she says, “I can’t imagine doing ­another series; you’re kind of held hostage” by the ever-changing schedule. The Damages creators “work by the seat of their pants.”

They haven’t been told how it’s ­going to end. “I’d rather die than lose,” says Close. “And I don’t want to lose to Rose. I’d rather throw myself off a building.” She laughs, sharply this time, like striking a glass.


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