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Glenn Close, Mental Health Advocate

“What’s so great about Glenn in this role,” says Michael Nouri, who plays her husband on Damages, “is that she is willing to show the shadow side of human nature, and it’s not a comfortable place to be. She’s got guts.”

“I’m interested in playing characters who might be perceived as monsters,” Close says. “I’m interested in where our common humanity is, what makes that person vulnerable.”

Her sensitivity to human frailty has been heightened from watching her mentally ill relatives struggle with addiction, cope with treatment costs (“One of my family members once had to choose between buying a new coat for her child or visiting her therapist”), and deal with the side effects of their medications. What has troubled Close the most, though, and inspired her decision to get more involved with Fountain House, was witnessing the excruciating isolation they experienced. “There was a big part of me that wanted to get into the trenches,” she says.

Close acknowledges that continued research into better treatments for mental illnesses is important. But erasing the stigma, she says, is the first step. That will lead to better funding and better care. Most important, it will help ease the loneliness her family members and others feel. For that, she says, speaking out on behalf of those who cannot always speak up for themselves is worth any risk.

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