Not so long ago, Glenn Close performed a dramatic reading at a maximum security prison. "The inmates were yelling out, 'Miss Close! Miss Close! I will not be ignored, Miss Close!'" she recalls with a chuckle. It's been 20 years since Close uttered those words as the one-night stand from hell in Fatal Attraction, but it remains her signature line. Not that she has trouble getting attention. With five Oscar nominations (Fatal Attraction, The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural and Dangerous Liaisons), three Tonys (Sunset Boulevard, The Real Thing, Death and the Maiden) and an Emmy (Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story), Close, 60, is one of Hollywood's busiest actresses. Now she's winning raves as a sinister lawyer in the new F/X series Damages. And she has no plans to slow down. "I feel as strong physically as I ever have," says the actress, curled up on a sofa in the New York City apartment she shares with her third husband, biotech entrepreneur David Shaw, 56, and daughter Annie, 19, from her previous relationship with producer John Starke. In May, Close finished her first mini-triathlon, power-walking to the finish despite a sore hip. "My husband comes from a family of jocks, and I just want to keep up," she says. "I didn't want to be a wuss!"

No one would accuse Close—who landed her first major movie role in Garp at 35—of giving up easy. For years she struggled to find success in Hollywood, and even today she's sometimes mistaken for Meryl Streep on the street. "We're both blonde and Waspy," she quips. The daughter of William, a physician, and his wife, Bettine, a homemaker, she grew up in wealthy Greenwich, Conn., with stints in Africa and Switzerland. "We didn't go to the theater," she says. "I was always in my imagination." She found an outlet in acting, playing the male lead in an all-girl version of Romeo and Juliet at her boarding school, Choate Rosemary Hall.

After college Close headed for Manhattan to work in theater, where her roots remain firmly planted. "I have to measure the cost of being away from the people I love," says Close, who only agreed to do Damages because it's filmed in the city, near her husband and daughter, who goes to Hamilton College upstate. "That's been the sacrifice of my life." Not that she has any regrets. "Getting old is hard, especially for women, but you've got to keep bucking yourself up," she says. "You have to keep telling yourself, This is the best I've ever been."

'As a child, I spent my summers in blue jeans on the bare back of a pony. We had this wonderful piece of land, and I played and pretended. Acting was a natural progression of that'

'This is me as Cleopatra,' says Close, who landed the role her senior year at the College of William and Mary

'I find it very hard to be away from the people I love,' says Close (with husband David Shaw and Annie, now 19)