With a career spanning nearly 50 years, a huge body of work and no less than eight Oscar nominations, it would be fair to assume that there isn’t much that Glenn Close hasn’t done when it comes to acting. .
But for her latest role – in the international spy drama series Tehran – the star found herself speaking Farsi for the first time.
The series returns for a second season, and Close joins the cast as a renowned psychologist and undercover Mossad agent tasked with supervising the title character on his new mission.
She told Sky News’ Backstage podcast that she had never spoken the Iranian language before and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.
“It was a real brain exercise – it was a brainteaser,” Close said.
“Even if you focus on some of the sounds and how to make them and how to build the sentences, it still comes down to – until you get to the point where you can think in a language – it’s just memorizing one sound at a time, then learning what the intonation should be and then doing it in a believable tempo.
“And so it was extremely difficult and one of the thrills of doing it…it was really fun and a really good workout.”
The show, about spying between Israel and Iran, is clearly fictionalized, but Close says television and film can help audiences understand global politics and real-world events.
“I think what drama can do with great writing is bring eloquence to some of the toughest issues in the world,” she said.
“I personally think we lack eloquence and you think, oh, that’s just how people talk, but no – throughout history, great leaders are people who had eloquence, and it means they knew what order to put the words in to properly communicate at the heart of both sides of anything, and that’s what we sorely need in today’s world.
“And I think it’s through writing and creating characters that people can relate to, that they can even subconsciously have a perception of things that they didn’t have before.”
The first season of Tehran was critically acclaimed and a breakthrough success; even winning Best Drama at last year’s International Emmys – the first Israeli series to win the award. Close admits it was appealing to do something away from Hollywood.
“Absolutely – it was an area of the world I had never been to, even filming in Greece was a new experience, having a cast and crew that didn’t speak English, I mean not their mother tongue.”
She says. “And being part of a show that a platform like Apple TV+ deems worthy enough to deliver a global audience, it’s exciting to me that a show like Tehran from Israel, created by a woman, is now broadcast worldwide.”
Close co-star Niv Sultan, who plays the show’s title character, says the response to the first series has been special.
“Honestly, we couldn’t expect the show to be so successful and the responses have been amazing,” she said.
“It’s the gift of our profession – you do something that you can never know what’s going to happen, you can never know what the reaction will be and suddenly the reaction is unbelievable.”
“So we can only embrace it and embrace it and keep working hard.”
Tehran’s second series is on Apple TV+.