The following report comes courtesy of D Magazine intern Taylor Walker, with photos by People Newspapers’ Christina Barany:
“Don’t go into this profession wanting to be a big star.” That seems to be the message Glenn Close wanted the students of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to take away from her 30-plus years of experience in the industry.
The five-time Oscar-nominated actress and producer Bonnie Curtis (Minority Report, A.I. Artificial Intelligence) took a break from raising funds for their upcoming art flick, Albert Nobbs, to address a packed auditorium — seriously, people were sitting on the floor — of star-struck teenagers, parents, and Booker T. faculty this morning.
Emceed by (lucky) selected students, the roughly hour-long event found Close answering questions that ranged from which role she felt the strongest connection to — shockingly, Alex Forrest the femme fatale of Fatal Attraction fame — to how she prepares for red carpet events, a topic she visibly was not fond of. It was to this latter question that Close expressed her hatred for what she deems the most stressful and unimportant part of her profession. With interjections from Curtis, Close discussed how the red carpet used to be special and now it’s just gotten out of hand. Now, in her words, it’s Snooki (Jersey Shore). Taking it one step further, Close added, “I think this country is dying from the cult of celebrity,” which was met with loud applause from the audience.
Getting the message, one of the emcees quickly changed the topic to Bring Change 2 Mind, a nonprofit organization Close is heavily involved with that hopes to alter the stigma people hold against the mentally ill as well as providing support for people with mental illness. Close beamed while discussing the organization and even sang a snippet of John Mayer’s “Say”, which is featured in a Bring Change 2 Mind PSA.
Wrapping up the event, Close answered questions from the audience including one gem that went along the lines of, “You were crazy as Cruella in 101 Dalmatians. How’d you prepare for that?” Close laughed, explained that she had the Disney cartoon to model her performance after, and then brought the character to life by performing the notorious laugh onstage. Fitting for an actress, what followed seemed like it was taken straight from the silver screen. The laugh ended, and a quiet lull filled the auditorium. Then, as if the audience had come to terms with what they just witnessed, pandemonium ensued. An eruption of claps, screams, and woops filled the space paired with a standing ovation — the perfect exit for the star.