Star Bursts


At the Florida Film Festival, Glenn Close and Jon Voight talk about heroes, villains and what makes a film a classic.  

Glenn Close
Glenn Close answers
audience questions at
the Florida Film Festival

It’s not every day that a movie icon comes to town. So it was striking that both Glenn Close and Jon Voight were at Enzian Theater’s  Florida Film Festival on the same weekend in April to celebrate their most iconic roles.

In Close’s case, that was Fatal Attraction’s Alex Forrest, a knife-wielding whack job who stalks a married attorney (Michael Douglas) after a brief fling.

“It touched a nerve between men and women,” she told the audience at the Q&A session that followed the screening of the film, recalling the sensation it made in 1987. Fatal Attraction, she added, tapped into “an underlying anger” between the sexes and “just let it all out.”

When asked about her knack for playing villains like Alex, Close seemed surprised by the question. Looking glamorous and rather severe in a gray power suit, she patiently explained that, except for Cruella DeVil in the live-action 101 Dalmatians, she hasn’t played any villains.

“Evil is easy,” Close, 62, sniffed. In fact, just before the event she observed that although Alex “certainly should be on some sort of medication,” the character is too “complex” to be called evil.

“I love her,” she said simply. Close similarly defended some of her other dastardly characters, including the manipulative marquise in Dangerous Liaisons and her latest assignment, the often-brutal Patty Hewes on TV’s Damages.

“Even though she’s kind of problematic in some ways,” she said of Patty, “in many ways she’s a great role model for women.”

Well, OK.

If Close came off as severe and glamorous, Voight was casual and gregarious in a blue windbreaker from his 1999 film Varsity Blues. Before his evening program, which featured a screening of Midnight Cowboy and a Q&A, he mingled with fans—posing for pictures, signing autographs or just sharing a moment.

In Midnight Cowboy (1969), Voight is Joe Buck, a strapping young Texan who comes to New York to become a “hustler.” He soon teams up with Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), a homeless grifter.

“It’s a story about a friendship,” said Voight, before the program began.

Despite Joe’s disreputable profession, most moviegoers would call him a hero. Voight has also played heroic characters in such films as Deliverance and Coming Home. (He won an Oscar for the latter, although some young moviegoers may know him better for his real-life role as Angelina Jolie’s father.)

In recent years, Voight, 70, has found success as villains in such films as Varsity Blues, Mission: Impossible, Anaconda and Rosewood (which was filmed in Central Florida). But unlike Close, he prefers an out-and-out evildoer to an ambiguous one.

“I like to see villains being villainous,” he said flatly. “I don’t want somebody playing a wishy-washy character.” Voight’s latest project is a turn on TV’s 24—a villain that, he says, “may be the worst I’ve ever played.”

Getting back to Midnight Cowboy, the actor had a theory about why his iconic character has resonated with so many people over the past four decades.

“I see loneliness as being the essence of the character, a feeling of alienation,” he said. “I think it’s a feeling that many of us have.”

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