Did British actress Janet McTeer ever think her independent drama "Albert Nobbs" -- a small film about two women who dress as men to survive in 19th century Dublin, Ireland -- would go on to collect a trio of Oscar nominations? "Never, not once," she said, reacting to word of her supporting actress nod Tuesday morning. "It’s just wonderful. It’s like a big birthday present. It’s so exciting that we’re here –- Glenn said she’s more excited than she’s ever been."
Glenn, of course, is best actress nominee Glenn Close, who labored for years to bring the film to the screen. McTeer plays lesbian Hubert Page in the movie, a passion project for Close, who first played the character in an Obie Award-winning off-Broadway production in 1982. She not only stars in the film — she also co-produced it and co-wrote the screenplay with Irish novelist John Banville and Gabriella Prekop.
The idea of playing a woman living as a man was "hugely intimidating," McTeer said. "Sometimes when people play cross-gender parts, you don’t necessarily have to believe they are fellows. Shakespeare is the first that comes to mind. But the nature of this film, is you have to believe … that everyone believes … that character is a guy. There’s no sense of humor about that in the film. So that’s an added pressure."
"This was certainly one of the most challenging roles I’ve played to date," she added. "But I’m always drawn to challenging roles."
This is McTeer's second Oscar nomination -- her first came in the lead actress category 12 years ago for the film "Tumbleweeds" -- but she's not quite ready to say what the good news might portend for her career. "Who knows if it’s a turning point?" McTeer said. "You can have a big flurry of activity and then you think ‘I’d quite like to be at home for a bit.’"
As for her fellow nominees, McTeer had nothing but kind words. "There are some amazing, gorgeous women, gorgeous performances," she said. "It’s a very lovely group to be among. I’ve seen some of [their films] but the thing is, I refuse to watch movies on an airplane and I’ve been on a plane every three to five days since autumn! I’d wake up thinking I don’t know what country I’m in. So I’m slowly catching up. I watched 'The Artist' last night, which I thought was flawless."
And what's next for the 50-year-old actress? "It’s been a mad dash all day -- I was really surprised to be nominated -- and then at some point today, I shall completely collapse. In a fit of giggles. And at some point I’ll sneak in a martini or a glass of something cheeky."
-- Deborah Vankin
Photo: Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs." Credit: Roadside Attractions