by director Björn Runge
Film productions always begin with a love affair. It was in the middle of a cold winter when I read the screenplay of The Wife for the first time. The reading thrilled me, and I fell in love.
Weeks followed with phone calls with the producers. I was amid rehearsals for the Stockholm City Theatre's stage production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. I was deep into classical American Drama.
One evening, the producers told me:
”We like you as director for this film, but you need to meet Glenn Close first.”
Glenn invited me to a breakfast in a café in New York City, Saturday at 10am. The Theatre let me go and I was on a plane by noon from Stockholm. This was my first visit to the mythical city. Earlier that morning I walked around Soho and the West Village to prepare myself for the meeting. Just before I entered the cafe, my wife called and said:
”I had a dream about your meeting and there were many white doves around you.”
I responded that I had not seen a dove since I arrived in New York. But then I entered the café: there Glenn Close sat, at a table in front of a wall with shelves covered with white clay doves. I felt comfortable with her at once. She was curious about me. We discussed the theater and Glenn told me that one day she would like to play the mother in Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill. I explained to her that I adore that play and I knew how to stage it.
As we spoke about the screenplay, she shared private moments from her life that connected her to Joan. I did the same; I expressed how The Wife was deeply important to me. We revealed our “emotional tickets” to each other.
Suddenly we went silent. We looked at one another and I couldn’t breathe; I knew that something was going to change. Then she said:
”I want you to direct this film!”
I called my producers in the taxi to the airport; we were thrilled to begin our next steps. When the flight took off towards Europe, I thought, “I will be back.”
There was a moment when I returned to rehearsals and I thought, “my life’s most bountiful years are in front of me.”
Making The Wife saved my life. It was a healing process for me. But that’s another story.
Four years after my breakfast with Glenn Close, I returned to New York for my second visit. This time with the completed film and a red-carpet premiere. The experience has now come full circle.