a new long-term love

major spoilers for Albert Nobbs

I have a handful of lifetime loves: celebrities who seem to have entered my consciousness just as early as the sun and the moon, and with no less brilliance. Sonia Manzano (Maria on Sesame Street) was mi primer amor; Carol Burnett, Julie Andrews, and Barbra Streisand were close at her heels. It took me a little longer to become aware of Meryl Streep, but because I’m certain we were together in a past life (let me have my fantasy, please), I count her among the early lights. These five are my pantheon, my pentateuch. They remind me where I come from and what I value: warmth, humor, talent, smarts, integrity. And hotness.

Recently I realized that a much younger woman (she’s only 50!) has taken her place among these luminaries.

Janet McTeer has those admirable qualities in spades. And she’s supremely sexy, with a voice that’s silky yet husky; lips that curve readily into a smile and just as fluidly into a smirk; eyes that shimmer with that incisive, playful, unswerving lust for life that inhabits Oscar winners (and she really should have won this year — sorry, Octavia).

And then there are her curves. Have you seen Albert Nobbs yet? If you have, or you haven’t and you don’t mind being spoiled, please enjoy:

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NSFW alert

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NSFW alert

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you should also get a glass of cold water

or maybe a cigarette


I first embraced (OK, only mentally) those curves more than 20 years ago, in the form of Portrait of a Marriage. She lightly trips the boundaries of gender in that miniseries much as she does in Nobbs, swaggering and swaying as it suits her, donning angular uniforms and billowy skirts as comfortably as she stretches in her birthday suit (and I’m so, so glad she’s comfortable with that). And seducing a woman with the kind of dashing confidence that reduces me to an empty-headed heap of gratitude.

That dashing quality — not exclusively English, but often found hitching a ride on the tweedier parts of the gene pool — permeates her performance in Albert Nobbs. She’ll make you forget Glenn Close even exists (and this is a very serious statement coming from me, because my appreciation for Ms. Close borders on unhealthy). In the film, McTeer’s character represents truth, self-knowledge, courage, freedom, and love. And handsomeness.

Even in her smaller, less obviously dashing roles, McTeer is unforgettable. Today I saw The Woman in Black, which is a little snoozy when she’s not on screen — but mesmerizing when she is. That’s how I felt about her performances in Mary Stuart and God of Carnage on Broadway: when she was offstage, it was just another day, but when she showed up, it was suddenly Christmas.

And Glenn Close seems to be just as enchanted as I am: she’s given McTeer a part in the upcoming season of Damages, as well as the part of Very Good Real-Life Friend. (I interpret this photo slightly differently.)

Given McTeer’s stunning performance in the UK crime drama Five Days, I think we can expect her to set off similar fireworks in a legal drama — especially if she plays someone in charge. Maybe she’ll battle Patty Hewes for dominance. Yow!

So now that I’ve realized I’ve been in love with her for more than 20 years, I’m more than happy to give Janet McTeer a primo spot in my personal cinema firmament. Actually, I don’t have to give it to her: she’s already taken it, with that dazzling aplomb that I can’t quite capture in words. So I’ll end this with a brief video clip (from Portrait) and an amen.

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6 Responses to “a new long-term love”

  1. Linster says:

    Finally, I read this — and it was a great reward for finishing taxes early. I’m glad you still find time to write about smart, sexy women from time to time. (And thanks for the gif!)

  2. T. Rodriguez says:

    I’ve loved your writing since the L Word recaps. You are a terrific writer, and the piece was a nice treat. Thank you.

  3. Ruth says:

    You know one thing that Dame Julie and Janet have in common regarding film roles, right? They’ve both played Gertrude Lawrence. But only Janet’s version explored the “interesting” part of Ms Lawrence’s life.

  4. tam says:

    I discovered Janet McTeer a very long time ago, and since you didn’t mention it, I guess you’ve not seen it. It is a TV series shown on BBC2 in 1990 called Portrait of a Marriage, based on the biography of Vita Sackville-West written by her son, Nigel Nicholson. Her love affair with Violet Keppel is central in the story. (Her affair with Virginia Woolf wasn’t in it, sadly) McTeer plays Vita, and she’s smoking hot in it.

    You can watch the whole movie on youtube:


    • tam says:

      oops! Sorry, I missed the early part of your article. You do know about Portrait of a Marriage.

      Please cancel my comment above….[sheepish]

  5. SallyAJohns says:

    Finally someone who is as captivated by this intelligent, strong and uber-sexy woman as I have been for years. She is enchanting, richly talented and oh that smile! Thank you for writing so affectionately about her – this piece has made my week!
    PS – You’re brilliant too.

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