TODAY | December 05, 2012
>>> glenn close is an emmy, golden globe and tony-winning actress who will need to make more room on the mantle. she is being honored this weekend at the american giving awards to erase the significant mah of those with mental illness glenn, good morning. congratulations.
>> good morning.
>> this is a very personal subject for you. your sister jesse was diagnosed with mental illness but not until her 40s. how do you get inspired to be involved?
>> she asked me to, and her son, who is also part of our family initiative, was diagnosed actually before jesse , he's schizo-affected and she's bipolar.
>> what did you think about your sister in the years leading up to the diagnosis?
>> well, the extraordinary thing for me was that we didn't think that maybe it was a question of having a mental discovered some kind, that it just wasn't in our family's vocabulary.
>> how did it manifest itself?
>> she was already considered kind of the wild one, the irresponsible one, what's jesse up to now, kind of thing?
>> and i think we're lucky that she's still here frankly.
>> how did you get to a point where you sought a diagnosis in.
>> she came up to me one day and we were at my parent's house, and she said i need help. i can't stop thinking about killing my level.
>> oh, my goodness.
>> so that kind of galvanized me, and we've found her help.
>> tell me about the group. bring change to mind. what's the idea? what's the goal?
>> the idea of bring change to mind is basically to start talking openly about mental illness , to know that recovery is possible. as an actress i'm very aware of the power of words, and they are scary words, like schizophrenia and bipolar illness, borderline personality. all those, where most of us are very ignorant about and a lot of pre-conceived ideas, a lot of cliches about what it is to have a mental illness , but the fact is that 1 in 4 people, 1 in 4 people are affected in some way by mille necessary.
>> people will hear this story and conversation and go immediately to your role in "fatal attraction." you played somebody, the most famous woman in the history of film with a mental illness . do you look back on that role and wish you had played it differently?
>> that was back in the '80s, right?
>> '87, yeah.
>> and i still had no vocabulary for mental illness , so even -- i did research with two psychiatrists, and it never came up that that might be, you know, what was going on the since then i have been told, but it's, you know, kind of classic behavior for certain disorders, and i think the interesting thing is that people come up to me and say she's so evil, you know. i think that's kind of how mental illness has been used traditionally in the entertainment world is to -- for somebody that's violent or evil, but she basically was somebody who was terribly out of control and needed, you know, needed help
>> i was interested to read you say that you think claire danes on the show homeland plays it well.
>> that she treats mental illness the way it ought to be treated as an actress what. is it about her performance?
>> my sister, you know, has the same thing that claire's character has and says it's very, very accurate, and the thing that 's wonderful is that she's a productive human being .
>> it's possible possible for have mental illness and be productive and have full lives, and i urge everybody to go to bringchangetomind.org. i think there's more awareness now in this country, especially because there's so many vets coming back from the two wars with pts and traumatic brain injury, but i think there's still huge stigma around it, and the stigma prevents people from feeling that they can talk openly about it and even seeking help and, you know, recovery.
>> you're certainly helping to change that. i want to end on one lighter note. tom brokaw just e-mailed the control room and said you owe him a dry cleaning bill. would you like to explain the story?
>> yeah. we were just down at kennedy center honors , and everybody is just dressed to the nines, and i was sitting next to tom, and he was making a gesture, one of his fabulous stories, and this red wine spilled over my entire outfit.
>> but you survived because you were dressed in black.
>> i was dressed in black.
>> we're giving him that bill. tom can be demonstrative. glenn, congratulations. so good to see you.
>> catch the american giving awards this saturday at 8:00 eastern right here on nbc.