Close gathers stars in Dublin as celluloid dream to come true


IT IS nearly 30 years since she first starred in the theatre version on Broadway and a decade since she first suggested making it into a movie.

Now Hollywood star Glenn Close is set to finally achieve her ambition to turn one of George Moore’s best-known short stories into a film.

Shooting of Albert Nobbsbegins in Dublin on Monday. Producer and co-screenwriter Close will also star in the title role.

The original short story featured an English woman in Victorian Dublin who disguised herself as a male butler because of the lack of opportunity for women of her class at the time.

“It’s a very simple story that packs a huge emotional wallop,” said Close. Now aged 63, she noted she was an older but better actor than when she first played the role on Broadway in 1982, a few years before she became a major movie star in Fatal Attraction.

The new film will have an ensemble cast which also includes Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Brendan Gleeson, Pauline Collins, Maria Doyle Kennedy, rising star Aaron Johnson ( Nowhere Boyand Kick-Ass) and Mia Wasikowska who was Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

It will be directed by Rodrigo Garcia, the son of the novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and co-written by Man Booker Prize winner and former Irish Timesliterary editor John Banville.

There may be big names, but it will have a tiny budget for a period drama of €6 million. It would be a “real trick”, she admitted, to make it a success.

The Irish Film Board (IFB) is expected to make a contribution of €750,000.

Yesterday, flanked by many of her cast and crew at a press conference in the Merrion Hotel, Close was ecstatic that something that had been a pipe dream was finally coming to fruition.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would have this extraordinary group of talent both in front of and behind the camera,” she said.

Close stressed the film board’s role was critical in bringing the film to Ireland as they had also considered locations in Hungary, eastern Germany, Montreal and New York.

Director Garcia said he was persuaded by the quality of the script to get involved. “It is the kind of script that is moving and funny with a story that is compelling.”

Filming will go on for 34 days in various locations throughout Dublin with a 10-day break for Christmas and is due to be wrapped up in February. No release date is scheduled yet.

Irish producer Alan Maloney said the film and television industry here was remarkably buoyant given the problems of the wider economy and he said the 4.4 per cent decrease in funding announced in the Budget was “like an increase” in the present circumstances.

Film board chairman James Morris said the lobbying the industry had done had paid dividends. “Holding on to what you have is a real result in the current circumstances,” he said.