The critically-acclaimed film almost went unmade due to (of course) Hollywood sexism.
Glenn Close has already won a bevy of awards for her standout performance in The Wife, and she is the front-runner for Best Actress at the 2019 Oscars (her seventh nomination for an Academy Award).
The film, for those who have yet to see it, tells an all-too familiar story. After nearly 40 years of marriage, Joan (Close) and Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) seem, on the surface, to be incredibly content in their life together. When her husband is invited to Stockholm to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature, though, Joan seems… well, she seems unhappy at the prospect.
Why? Well, for the past few decades, she has poured every fibre of her being into playing the very private role of Great Man’s Wife. There has been endless compromise and sacrifice. And she has been forced to hide her own literary light under a bushel, as her contributions go overshadowed by a far more powerful man.
It’s a film which has, unsurprisingly, resonated with audiences, thanks to its all too timely subject matter. However, Close has now revealed that the film almost went unmade due to Hollywood sexism.
You guessed it: it took 14 years to get Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 novel adapted for the big screen, primarily because no male American star would accept second billing to a woman.
“Think about it,” Close told NPR. “Actors - star actors - have big egos… nobody wanted to be in a film called The Wife.”
Praising Pryce for agreeing to step into the role, she continued: “But Jonathan Pryce, he allowed that. He said, ‘Too bad it’s not called The Husband.’
“But that’s the thankless part of the film. Here I am with all this acclaim, and he has not gotten anything out of it. And that’s why I love Jonathan Pryce for what he did. And he’s my date [to the Oscars].”
Close previously said that the opening sex scene between her and Pryce was the first thing she shot on The Wife.
“We were both thinking the same thing: ‘We’re pros, we’ve been doing this a long time. Let’s just get down to it,’” she recalled.
The decorated actress added that the scene was particularly important to her, as it shows two people over the age of 70 having slow and pleasurable sex. “It’s one of the great myths that you lose your sexuality as you get older,” she said. “One night last year, I was coming across town from the East Village to the West. It was late on a Friday night and there were a lot of couples on the street. Pippy and I were looking out of the car window and I could feel what all those couples were feeling.
“I could feel their excitement, the sense of intimacy about to happen. It was extremely powerful.”
Close added that, right now, she believes she is in her prime.
“I feel as free and as creative, as sexual and as eager, as I ever have,” she said. “And it’s ironic because I’m thinking: ‘How much time do I have left now?’ There are so many things I’m interested in doing. It’s one of those ironies, I suppose, that we sometimes start feeling comfortable in our own skin only late in our lives, but hopefully with enough time to benefit from it. I’m so glad to do what I do because even though I’m not a method actor and I don’t use my life in my acting, my work is still a progression. So what comes after this I’m excited to see.
“Right now, I’m just enjoying feeling chuffed.”
We imagine she will be feeling even more chuffed if she picks up that Best Actress accolade at the Academy Awards on Sunday 24 February.
Check out the full list of female Oscars nominees here, and be sure to tune into Stylist for live awards updates on the night.