Ron Salfen, for “The Presbyterian
Interview with Rodrigo Garcia,
Director of “Albert Nobbs”
January 8, 2012
: What was surprising to you about this film?
was a nice surprise to get a (Golden Globe) nomination about that song
(“Lay Your Head Down”). We weren’t always sure the movie would even do
this song, but towards the end, we started flirting with the idea, and there
was this piece of music that Brian (Byrne) had written for one of the scenes
that everyone was in love with, and in the end we encouraged Glenn (Close)
to write the lyrics herself, so she decided to write it as a lullaby.
It works very nicely, I think.
: How did you become attached to this
(Glenn Close) asked me to direct. The
project pre-dates me. Almost
immediately, I wanted to do it, just because she was asking me.
You know, when someone has a project like this in their lives that
won’t leave them---especially an artist who has had a chance to do so many
things---you’re curious. Why this
one? And I read the script and I
thought it was a period piece, but it was timeless in the sense that in any
time, people have had to sacrifice aspects of themselves in order to fit in.
And not just sexual identity, any identity.
Things you like. People you
don’t like. There’s always a part
of us that we hide in order to do better in our environment.
I thought that theme was timeless. And
then there was the character of Nobbs, who was so specific, and unusual, you
know. So it was a shoo-in for me.
: Can you talk about how you made it
a period piece?
we did a substantial amount of research. But
you can’t do it all on your own. The wardrobe designer does his part, the
production designer, you have an historical advisor, you try to get as much
information as you can, and then you still sort of do your own inflection.
You know, you don’t know what it’s like to wake up in 19th
century Ireland---none of us do—but you take from what you know of that
period, and you translate that into what rings a bell with us, and it’s
work, but it’s a fun part of the work, if your heads of departments are
talented and can lead the way.
: What about Glenn Close’s
transformation into this character?
was gradual, because over the years we did tests for noses, and ears, and
wigs, but at the end, I remember on the day of the camera test, when she was
in the full makeup, hair, and wardrobe, and she was standing next to me, I
felt that there was this curious little man standing next to me.
I always looked at her like a character from silent pictures.
: She said something interesting when
I asked her if she took a stupid pill in order to play a man.
She laughed, and then she said it was like putting on a cloak of
because not only is she a man, not only is she a woman in hiding, she’s in
a job that would require her to be in hiding, meaning that even if Nobbs
were a man, you wouldn’t know him. You
wouldn’t know anything about him. He
wouldn’t offer himself or open himself up to you.
He would try to blend against the curtains.
So it was not just playing a man, it was playing a self-effacing,
invisible man. So I think that was an
: Did her passion and enthusiasm for
this project make her easier to work with?
has a great way of working, she never gets tired.
It never gets old for her, and that’s contagious.
She’s working at a level—not of perfectionism, not destructive,
because nothing is good enough, or they destroy those around them----she’s
a perfectionist, but in a creative way that feeds her and feeds people
around her. Listen:
she’s a co-screenwriter, a producer, she acts in it, and she wrote
the song, and beyond all of that, her contribution to the movie is
: Would you like to work with her
again in the future?
She’s such an easy person to work with.
She has something that’s rare: a
very rational, intelligent, analytical mind, and also a completely artistic,
intuitive, left brain.
in artists! She understands how
things work both in front of and behind the camera.
: Could she also be a Director?
could do it in a moment.
: And you could be an actor, right?
: Thank you very much.