Postcards

How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

The money behind Glenn Close's Oscar bid

January 24, 2012: 10:47 AM ET

When I ran into Glenn Close at the Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) annual meeting last spring, she told me that the movie she had just completed, Albert Nobbs, was one of the most challenging projects of her career.

This morning, Close got an Academy Award nomination for her offbeat role in the film: Close plays a woman posing as a man in order to get a job and survive in nineteenth-century Dublin. Her acting, it turns out, is only half of her tour de force here: She raised all the money for Albert Nobbs herself.

"Not one cent of our budget, which was $8 million, came from Hollywood," the actress said at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. Interviewed by Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson, Close explained that the seed of her labor of love was planted 20 years ago when she played Albert Nobbs on the stage in New York City. To make the movie she wanted to make, she realized she had best fund it herself. In fact, she used the money from the sale of her apartment in Manhattan for her initial investment.

Close knows her way around financial circles. She and her husband, businessman David Shaw, are pals with Warren Buffett—hence her pilgrimages to Omaha for Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings. Nonetheless, she and her Albert Nobbs' co-producer, Bonnie Curtis, had to scrounge for money to get their project to the screen. They found their other key financier in Fort Worth: Crescent Real Estate Holdings Chairman John Goff had never invested in a project like this, Close told the MPW Summit audience. But Goff decided to take a risk on her film because she had "skin in the game."

Here's more from Close on Albert Nobbs—and her take on how her character relates to women today:

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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