Close Encounter: Her Greatest Role Yet?




 The Connecticut native, now 64, has had a career that moves seamlessly among the stage, film, and TV, playing roles high and low. And unlike many actresses of a certain age, she didn't have to debate whether to move to TV when she took the role on Damages; Close had already done plenty on the small screen, from the 1979 TV movie Too Far to Go to 1984's groundbreaking Something About Amelia, the 1995 Cammermeyer film, and many others. "I kept saying, 'Number 1, is the writing good? And number 2, the British do it!'"

 She's proud of her years as Patty Hewes on Damages: "It's really good brain exercises and trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. But it's just fun."

But, oh, does she have her priorities straight. The best part? "Somebody does my shopping for me. I have it in my contract that I get the clothes." In Close's estimation, "Patty dresses very grown-up." And Close does not, or did not, until she got to keep Patty's power suits. Speaking on the phone from her New York apartment, Close reports that she's dressed in "a black J. Crew long-sleeve T-shirt and a black pair of workout pants. I live in the Village," she exclaims, "it doesn't matter what I wear."

Indeed, the actress has never strayed far from her New York theater roots, but she doesn't necessarily see returning to the Broadway stage after Damages ends. "I would love it," she says. "My first love is the stage, but I've sacrificed time with my family for 30 years." Close is married to David Evans Shaw, a retired venture capitalist; she has a daughter, Annie, 23, from a previous relationship. It's a huge problem for me to think about being in a show for a year and not seeing my husband [every night]."

Still, it's hard to imagine Close not finding a way — any way — to play more complicated, strong-willed women. In the meantime, there's one more season of Damages to put to bed. Season 5, debuting this year on DirecTV, promises to be a doozy, with Hewes and Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) finally battling each other in the courtroom, and Ryan Phillippe and McTeer among the season's major costars. Close won't reveal further details. "Janet's only just started, and I don't know if she's for me or against me yet," she jokes. Because you're either for Hewes or you're against her, says Close, no doubt smiling. "There's no in-between."

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