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Glenn Close says she was surprised by Gwyneth Paltrow's Shakespeare in Love Oscar win

Entertainment Weekly logo Entertainment Weekly 11/28/2020 Tyler Aquilina
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Glenn Close is not exactly in love with Shakespeare in Love.

Appearing on ABC News' Popcorn with Peter Travers to promote Netflix's Hillbilly Elegy, the actress got frank about her thoughts on entertainment industry awards, saying pitting actors' performances against each other "doesn't make sense" and citing Gwyneth Paltrow's 1999 Oscar win for Shakespeare as a key example.

"I've never understood how you could honestly compare performances," Close said. "I remember the year Gwyneth Paltrow won over that incredible actress who was in Central Station. I thought, 'What?' It doesn't make sense. So I think who wins has a lot of things to do with... whether it has traction or whatever. Publicity, how much money did they have to put it out in front of everybody's sight."

Indeed, Shakespeare in Love's Oscar campaign is a notorious episode in Hollywood history, not least because it marked the high (or low) point of Harvey Weinstein's aggressive, mudslinging style of awards-circuit PR. The strategy netted a Best Actress trophy for Paltrow and Best Picture for the film itself, a win that remains controversial to this day. (Shakespeare triumphed unexpectedly over frontrunner Saving Private Ryan, widely considered the superior film then and now.)

Glenn Close, Gwyneth Paltrow posing for the camera: Glenn Close says she was a bit surprised by Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar win for 'Shakespeare in Love': 'I thought, what?' © Steve Granitz/WireImage; Miramax/Everett Collection Glenn Close says she was a bit surprised by Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar win for 'Shakespeare in Love': 'I thought, what?'

Paltrow triumphed over fellow nominees Meryl Streep (of course), Cate Blanchett, Emily Watson, and Fernanda Montenegro, the actress from Central Station that Close mentioned. In 2009, an EW "Oscar recall" survey of industry insiders picked Blanchett over Paltrow for that year's Best Actress.

In the Popcorn interview, Close, who has been nominated for seven Oscars (the most without a win for any actress), added, "I honestly feel that to be nominated by your peers is about as good as it gets....I'm very proud of the times that my peers have felt that my performance was worthy of attention."

Close may well get her eighth nod for Hillbilly Elegy come next year. Though the film itself has been savaged by critics, her transformative performance has been singled out for praise. But Close isn't exactly enthusiastic about potentially receiving her first Oscar amid a global pandemic.

"It's so sad if it happens when we're all unable to celebrate in a room together," Close told Travers. "I mean, that would be ironic, but that's what life does, right? I just hope I can keep finding the parts because a lot of times I think it's about the role."

You can watch the full interview above.

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