Back in 2005, the Golden Age of television was underway – with the likes of The Sopranos, The West Wing, Six Feet Under, and The Wire – but it was still fairly unusual for big Hollywood stars to make the leap to TV series. It wasn’t really until Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey starred in the first season of True Detective that movie stars started flocking to ‘prestige’ TV. But one actress who got ahead of the game was Glenn Close.
Close starred in nearly 60 episodes of legal thriller series Damages alongside Rose Byrne between 2007 and 2012. But even before that, she had appeared in 13 episodes of crime thriller series The Shield back in 2005. The Shield bore quite a few similarities to The Wire – and focused on dirty cop Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his corrupt LAPD unit.
According to a 2005 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Close initially told her agents to turn down the Shield offer, but her reps persuaded her to at least take a meeting. “I’m a sucker for good writing and for people who are really passionate,” she said. “There was something very seductive about being wanted so badly, and the fact that they had come all that way and were willing to sit in my little apartment…”
The Shield creator Shawn Ryan recalled compiling a list of some of the best actors of all time that also included Susan Sarandon and Frances McDormand. “I started setting my heart on [Glenn] while thinking, ‘Don’t get too worked up because it probably won’t happen.'” It was a reasonable assumption at the time, when the likes of Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts were not doing television.
Nowadays, if you throw a stick at HBO – especially on a Sunday night – you’re likely to hit several Oscar-winning actresses. Just look at something like Big Little Lies – which starred Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and who were joined in the second season by Meryl Streep. It would seem as though Close was something of a TV trailblazer.
Check out our guide to the best drama series.