From 'she' to 'he' in two and a half hours: Glenn Close's amazing transformation for her new movie role

Glenn Close, most famous for her role as knife-wielding, bunny-murdering Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, returns to the big screen next week in perhaps her most haunting role to date.

Eschewing the hard-edged female protagonists of the past, in Albert Nobbs the star plays an impoverished woman in 19th century Ireland who seeks safety from the brutality of male aggression by living as a man herself.

To play the titular role of Albert Nobbs, Ms Close underwent an extraordinary cosmetic transformation, emerging as an awkward-looking, ginger-haired domestic servant in a performance that may well afford her a long overdue Oscar this February.

Radiant: Glenn Close at the 2012 Golden Globes

Glenn Close plays a woman living as a male servant in 19th Century Ireland

Transformation: Glenn Close underwent two and half hours in make-up every day to become the protagonist of her new movie, Albert Nobbs. In the film she plays a woman who lives as a man in 19th Century Ireland

Special effects make-up artist, Karen Stein, told MailOnline: 'Since
women living as men in the late 1800's didn't go to great lengths to
create disguises for themselves, [they] kept the makeup very simple,
opting to make Close slightly more masculine.'

Director Rodrigo Garcia recounted the experience on set to Daily Front Row, saying: 'I saw Glenn in
increments. We’d try out different noses, ears, and wigs. When it was
finally complete and she was in costume, it was like she was this odd
little man standing next to me on set.'

The transformation from woman to woman-as-man begins

Hair today gone tomorrow: Preparations for Ms Close's wig begin

Patience: Make-up artist, Matthew W. Mungle, used a prosthetic nose and ears to achieve the look

New nose! Make-up artists apply a prosthesis to the actress

Cropped: Touching up the hairline after putting on the wig

Disguised: Ms Close becomes almost unrecognisable as a ginger-haired domestic servant in the movie

Make-up artists and wig makers worked tirelessly to create the look for
Ms Close so that audiences, like the characters in the movie, would
believe the lie the heroine lives.

In a promotional featurette for the
movie, Glenn Close explained: ‘Working on the look of Albert was a very
long process because the one
thing we always knew is it’s not about putting on a moustache or doing
anything other than trying to figure out how that life would change your

Make-up designer for the film, Matthew W. Mungle, said: ‘I kept thinking that this has to be subtle. So we went with a nose for
Glenn and earlobes and tried to play with her face from within.

Just friends Mia Wasikowska plays the role of Albert Nobbs' love interest

Just friends Mia Wasikowska plays the role of Albert Nobbs' love interest

'We were
matching the prosthetic pieces to her skin and then, once that was done
and all powdered then it went to Martial and he put the wig on which was
an amazing, beautiful wig.’

Wig-maker, Martial Corneville, was responsible for creating the crop
worn by the Damages star for the role. The star gushed about his skills, saying: ‘I think that
work represents the finest art of wig-making and art of makeup.’

Glen Close as Gutless in the 1991 feature Hook starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman

Glen Close as Gutless in the 1991 feature Hook starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman

preparation for the role of Albert Nobbs, the theatre and screen
actress watched a lot of Charlie Chaplin and borrowed the idea of the
baggy trousers and bowler hat for her costume.

Chaplin was not the only inspiration. Talking to USA Today at the
Toronto International Film Festival, Ms Close recalled the research she
did for the character who she refers to as 'she'.

She said: 'There was this very famous clown, Emmett Kelly,
and he had this very sad face. He was a bum and he was brilliant. That
was one of the huge images of my childhood.'

Looking at herself in the mirror post-transformation, Ms Close told USA Today: 'At certain angles, I
look a lot like my dad when he was 20 and flew in the Army Air Corps in
the Second World War.'

It's not the first time the celebrated performer has appeared as a
man in a film though, as Gutless in the 1991 adaptation of Peter Pan,
Hook, the special effects make-up was somewhat less convincing.

Streep will surely compete for this year's coveted Academy Award
following her performance as Margaret Thatcher in Iron Lady. The Academy
is notoriously impressed by transformational roles and has awarded
Oscars to Hilary Swank for Boys Don't Cry and Gwyneth Paltrow for
Shakespeare in Love.