The Big Chill (1983)
With one look at a cast photo of this dramedy about a reunion of college friends, Close launches into a sort of graduate seminar on late-20th-century Hollywood bed-hopping. ''Now, I had dated Kevin [Kline],'' she explains, using the picture as a diagram. ''And my best friend, Mary Beth, had been married to Bill Hurt. At a reading we did in New York, she read the part of Mary Kay Place. And she had just broken up with Kevin.'' She laughs. ''It was a little incestuous.'' The cast's bond made Close ambivalent about being singled out by the Academy for her turn as the earthy, maternal Sarah. ''I think my crying-in-the-shower scene had something to do with it,'' she says. ''Hollywood loves to see naked. Naked or dead.''
The Natural (1984)
Close was handpicked by star Robert Redford to play Iris Gaines, the saintly single mother abandoned by a talented ballplayer (Redford). Another year, another Best Supporting Actress nod, although Close credits this one to cinematographer Caleb Deschanel: ''That hat was designed so the sunlight would come through. We waited for a certain time of day, so the sun was shining through the back of the stadium. And he had a lens that muted the people around me. It was an incredibly well-thought-out shot. And I honestly think that's the reason I got nominated.''
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Alex Forrest, the woman whose obsession with a married man (Michael Douglas) pushes her to madness, may be the most iconic role of Close's career. It was also the hardest for her to get. ''[The producers] didn't even want me to audition,'' says Close, who much like Alex refused to be ignored. ''They didn't think I could be sexy.'' She proved them wrong and created an endlessly imitated '80s look. ''The hair and makeup tests for this movie were some of the most rigorous I've ever done. The trickiest thing was the mouth shape, because it was very, very subtle. But we ended up filling in this little dip here [at the top of the lip, just beneath the nose] because it made her mouth sadder. It's all subliminal, but that changed her.'' Close famously disagreed with director Adrian Lyne over the movie's macabre ending, and still thinks her character deserved more empathy. ''[The producers] were right as far as satisfying the audience, giving them catharsis: The bad person is dead. But she wasn't just a bad person. When people say, 'You've played so many evil characters'...Alex is not on my list. The only evil person I've played as far as I'm concerned is Cruella De Vil.''