Monday 16 September 2019

Glenn Close: Norma Desmond role 'haunted' me for 20 years

Glenn Close is to star as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard in the West End
Glenn Close is to star as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard in the West End

Hollywood star Glenn Close has said returning to her Sunset Boulevard character is a "gift", because she has been "haunted" by her.

The award-winning actress will make her West End debut as she reprises the role of faded screen star Norma Desmond in a new semi-staged production at the London Coliseum.

Close, 68, previously played the part on stage more than 20 years ago, in the Los Angeles and Broadway productions in 1993 and 1994 respectively, the latter of which won her a Tony award.

She said: "When I was approached to do this, I thought it was a gift. I am very thrilled. To play a character and be able to come back to the same character 20 years later, it's going to be another exploration for me.

"I've had 20 years of life, 20 years of my craft and she won't be exactly the same. I'm not too sure what she'll be like. She's been in my psyche. When you've played a great character like that, she becomes part of your fabric."

The actress added: "She's haunted me since I left her."

Based on the Oscar-winning 1950 film by Billy Wilder, the latest production - in partnership with the English National Opera - will feature music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with a score by Don Black and Christopher Hampton.

Close, who revealed she has kept her original costumes in storage, said she has already started to fit in regular gym sessions to help maintain the energy levels throughout the five-week run of 43 performances, which begin on April 1, 2016.

She said: "For me, it starts with working out. You need to have strong muscles to project that kind of energy on stage, so you have to be in good shape. I'm getting on the treadmill - it's not something I really love to do but I know how much I will appreciate it.

"You have to take care of your voice. I'm hoping there will be a good E&T (ear and throat) guy to deal with my postnasal drip. You become quite a hypochondriac."

The Oscar-nominated star, whose screen roles include legal series Damages, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons, credited the musical for fine-tuning her singing voice.

"I really learnt to sing in Sunset Boulevard. When I was in Los Angeles, I would be rehearsing as I drove along Sunset Boulevard. It was a huge education," she said.

She won the role in the musical after screenwriter Hampton sent her a letter, asking if she would like to play Norma after they worked together in Dangerous Liaisons.

"It was daunting and exciting, and something I'd never thought I'd get the chance to do, so I am forever grateful. It's been an education for me."

Tickets for Sunset Boulevard, which runs until May 7, are available now from

Patti LuPone starred as Norma in Trevor Nunn's original West End production in 1993, while Kathryn Evans took on the role in the 2008 revival, which was directed and choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood.

PA Media

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