A 90s gem with a cult following, Hook has no shortage of star power. With Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, Robin Williams as Peter Pan and Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell – not to mention other supporting roles filled by Bob Hoskins and Maggie Smith – this Steven Spielberg family classic is a truly star-studded affair.
But it may surprise you to learn that there was another famous face hidden amongst the cast: Glenn Close, who made her name with leading roles in Fatal Attraction (1987) and Dangerous Liaisons (1988). In Hook, Close makes a very brief cameo as Gutless, one of Captain Hook’s male pirate cronies.
Close was brought to the set of the swashbuckling Steven Spielberg adventure by her friendship with the movie’s star, Robin Williams. “I had visited the set of Hook because Robin Williams was a friend of mine, and took along my little girl, Annie, who was about three years old,” Close would later recall to The Scotsman. “And when we got there, Steven Spielberg said, do you want to be a pirate? And I said sure.”
For her role as a salty sea dog, Close was given a deep, sunburnt-red tan, a false beard and a matching grey hairpiece and wiry eyebrows. Close’s resulting outfit was so convincing that it attracted some flirtatious attention on the set.
“I got a beard and costume, and the script girl came on to me,” Close remembered. “She thought I was a man. In fact nobody guessed I was a woman for three days. I’m pretty proud of that.”
Close’s character, credited as ‘Gutless’, appears alongside Williams’ grown-up Peter, disguised as an eyepatched pirate on Hook’s ship. Hook picks Gutless out of a gathered crowd of his pirates, saying: “You bet against me bringing Pan back here, didn’t ya?”
“No,” Gutless replies. “Tell your captain the truth,” Hook demands, at which Gutless starts to cry. “Awww… say it… say it,” Hook says, “… yes… you made a boo boo…” Gutless is then dragged away to the ‘boo box’, a chest large enough for a human, and trapped inside with scorpions.
Even if you didn’t recognise Close, this scene will probably stick with you. Many have noted the sheer dread of this scene, in which the torture is hinted at but never seen directly. Collider writer Allie Gemmill described it as a “vision of claustrophobic terror.”
Hook was released on December 11, 1991, and was met with mixed reviews. Critics praised the performances by Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman, as well as the sweeping musical score by John Williams.
They were less sure, however, about the movie’s strangely menacing tone, which often made it less suitable for younger children. Nevertheless, Hook earned five Academy Award nominations and grossed over $300 million at the box office.
Glenn Close isn’t the only Hook cameo that might catch your eye. The pirate crew also consists of the late folk-rock legend David Crosby, singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett and boxer Tony Burton.
Nor are the celebrity cameos limited to pirate roles: rock star and sometime actor Phil Collins also makes a brief appearance as a police detective. In addition, Hook boasts an early appearance from a young Gwyneth Paltrow – Spielberg’s goddaughter – as the young Wendy Darling.
There’s even a cameo from Spielberg’s old friend and Indiana Jones collaborator George Lucas, alongside the late Star Wars leading lady Carrie Fisher: the actress and filmmaker portray the couple kissing on the bridge in London while fairy dust falls on them. However, given the distance of the shot, you’d have to be truly eagle-eyed to recognise them.
Although Hook has plenty of fans, Steven Spielberg isn’t one of them. The director remarked in a 2013 interview with Mark Kermode, “I still don’t like that movie. I’m hoping some day I’ll see it again and perhaps like some of it.”
Spielberg elaborated in 2018, “I felt like a fish out of water making Hook… I didn’t have confidence in the script. I had confidence in the first act and I had confidence in the epilogue. I didn’t have confidence in the body of it.” Happily, Spielberg bounced back in a big way with two of his greatest films in 1993: mega-blockbuster Jurassic Park, and acclaimed multi-Oscar-winner Schindler’s List.
Although the role of Gutless didn’t lead to any Hook sequels, Glenn Close clearly has a talent for experimenting with gender. In 2011, she took the title role in Albert Nobbs, portraying a masculine-presenting Victorian character.
This performance earned Close her sixth of her eight Oscar nominations. Sadly, she has still yet to land a single Academy Award, giving her the record for the most nominations without a single win.