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ALBERT NOBBS

About The Production
Glenn Close's connection to the character of Albert Nobbs stretches back almost three decades to her 1982 performance in Simone Benmussa's theatrical interpretation of the short story, Albert Nobbs, by nineteenth century Irish author George Moore. 'I think that Albert is one of the truly great characters, and the story, for all its basic simplicity, has a strange emotional power,' begins Close, whose turn in the Off-Broadway production prompted rave reviews and garnered the actress an Obie Award.

Even as Close's career skyrocketed the character remained with her. "There's something deeply affecting about Albert's life," the actress continues, "She never stopped continuing to move me. I became very busy in my career, but always thought that Albert's story would make a wonderful movie."

Close has worked continuously on story ideas across the intervening years, developing a passionate attachment to the character of Nobbs; a woman living in 19th century Britain, who has survived by disguising herself as a man and becoming a waiter. As the story begins, we find her working at Morrison's, a reputable hotel in Dublin, where she has been for past 17 years.

'Albert doesn't want to end up in the poorhouse,' explains Close. 'At that time Ireland was extremely poor. Around the corner from the hotel was abject poverty. She knows that without her job that's where she could end up. And she knows anyone can get fired at any moment. There is a sense of fear among all the hotel workers.'

When the audience meets Albert, the character has played her role as a male servant in Morrison's Hotel for so long that she has lost her own, true identity. "She doesn't even know her real name," Close says. "She was an illegitimate child, raised by a woman who was paid to take care of her and who never revealed Albert's true identity. I figure the woman was paid to not tell because family didn't want the child to, one day, show up on their doorstep. So Albert, who already didn't know who she really was, disappeared into the guise of a waiter when she was fourteen years old. When we meet her thirty years later, she is isolated and invisible, albeit an impeccable servant, having lived in hotels her whole life.

Benmussa's play adaptation of George Moore's Albert Nobbs, was minimalist, with a considerable amount of mime used to tell the story, but, even so, Close believed that the tale's poignancy, heartbreak and humour---the latter realized by a wonderful collection of characters who people Morrison's Hotel---would fuel a film adaptation.

"The play was very austere," concedes the actress, "The power of the story is like a simple glass of water," she continues, "When light reflects in a glass of water, it creates something extremely complex. The story is simple and linear, but it touches on complex human issues that reflect on everyone's own life and everyone's own baggage, and gives them something to take away as well. I'm hoping it will be universally appealing."

Certainly producers Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn agreed, with Curtis responding to Close's passion for, and knowledge of, the character and the story. 'One of the elements that interested me as a producer was Glenn's hands-on, nightly experience in the theatre with the story,' Curtis explains. 'Making this movie with Glenn made a lot of business sense to me.'

Curtis met Close on the 2005 comic drama The Chumbscrubber. 'It was day two of her time on set,' recalls Curtis, 'and Glenn walked up to me, gave me a script, and said, "I must play this part on the big screen before I die." She was looking me right in the eye and I said we should do it right there and then.' Curtis laughs, 'She suggested I might want to read it first.'

The producer read the script that very night, 'and it got inside me in ways I didn't even understand,' she says, 'and I knew it would be right. When someone like Glenn says that they must play a part before they die, you figure it's a good character and script. Albert has that struggle for identity and purpose and yet she hasn't been equipped with the tools to get there. I think that it is a really universal life experience.'

Fellow producer Julie Lynn concurs. 'The story is about a woman who is naïve, and is in her own bubble of loneliness because she's lived with her face hidden from the outside world for decades, as a means of survival and self-protection. When we first meet her, she has been separated emotionally from the rest of the world.'

With the character and story resonating across the years, Close has sought out the best people to help her realise her vision for a big-screen adaptation. At the turn of the 1990s, when she was shooting Meeting Venus with Hungarian director Istvan Szabo, Close handed him the story and received in return her very first treatment. By 2001 the actress, turned writer and producer, had a draft with which she was satisfied, and arrived in Ireland to scout locations. Among the buildings she found was Cabinteely House in southeast Dublin. Now, ten years on, the house is finally transformed into Morrison's Hotel.

Irish producer Alan Moloney explains, 'Glenn suggested the main location. She had come here ten years ago and it's a wonderful choice. We also shot at Portmarnock Beach, Dublin city centre, but most of the piece unfolds in Morrison's. It really helps when Glenn Close is also your location scout!'

From her first scouting trip in 2001 through the start of production in 2011, Close refined and honed the script - most recently with input from acclaimed Irish writer John Banville - although it was only when shooting her second project with filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia, 2005's Nine Lives, however, that she settled on her ideal director.

Close recalls, "I had a wonderful time on Rodrigo's movies. He loves and understands women". (The pair also worked together on 1999's Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her.) " It's beautiful to be on a set with a director who truly loves women. He is also a masterful writer and has written great female parts."

Colombian filmmaker Garcia is the son of iconic writer Gabriel García Márquez. 'Rodrigo has that heritage,' says Close. 'Not only is he the perfect director but he's also deeply collaborative, and astoundingly open to my ideas.'

The director remembers his first discussions with Close. 'I was a little nervous about reading it,' he concedes. 'I love working with Glenn but what if I read it and felt as though I couldn't do it, or it wasn't my thing? I knew it was her passion. She'd done the play twenty years earlier and had scouted locations. So I went into it hoping that I could connect and I really did.'

Garcia responded to the piece the moment that he began reading Close's script. 'The themes are very contemporary although the story is very much of its time, late nineteenth century, and is very much about the inner life of a person and her problems with identity, erasing herself and living in hiding,' he says. 'But the story is also about a lot of characters and is very rich and full of drama, which is rare nowadays.'

'Today in a lot of scripts characters talk about their problems. Instead of the audience being told a stor

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