Close, Byrne Duel to the Death in ‘Damages’ New Season

Glenn Close Stars in 'Damages' (Photo: FX)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Glenn Close and Rose Byrne come out fighting in the series premiere of legal drama “Damages,” and both know that by the time the fifth and final season wraps, one of them may not make it out alive.

Close, who portrays dubious legal eagle Patty Hewes in the series, and Byrne, her one-time protege and now fierce rival Ellen Parsons, have for years been locked in a love-hate relationship that has seen them work on the same cases even while loathing each other’s very existence.

The new season, kicking off July 11 on DirecTV, promises more episodes based on real-life legal issues. More important, fans will get the final insight into what personality traits have driven these two vengeful women the past four years.

“Neither of them can get the other out of their lives or out of their sensibilities,” Close told Reuters. “A fascinating thing about this season is you learn Patty’s reason for behaving more than anytime before.”

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“She’s gone past the point of no return, and I think, she’s too proud and too, in some ways, emotionally isolated to change at this point,” she added.

Hewes takes a by-any-means-necessary approach to winning legal cases, and she is remorseless about her actions. After attempting to have Parsons assassinated in the first season, the expert attorney has managed over three years to coerce her young recruit into following her on a demented path to justice.

Hewes constantly pushes Parsons to do what’s wrong in order to obtain what’s right. But in this new season, the pair are on a collision course. Previews have revealed Parsons lying on the street after apparently being thrown from a building. Whether or not she meets her demise, actress Byrne said Parsons will demonstrate she has just as much ambition as her former mentor.

“One big question this season is whether Ellen is going to finally go to the lengths Patty goes to win cases and sort of become Patty,” Byrne said. “Before she’s been very apologetic about her ambition and she does it in a way that’s very lucid, but she never owns it. In this season … she wants it.”


The season sees Parsons trying to outwit Hewes, a woman who has both brought her up in the legal profession and set her back. But the question is whether she can outwit Hewes or if she will succumb to her mentor’s wrath.

“Nobody knows Patty like Ellen does, in terms of her moods and what she’s going to do next, and that was really exciting for us to see unfold,” says Byrne.

Along with its focus on the relationship between Hewes and Parsons over four seasons, “Damages” has become known for putting a unique spin on controversial issues of the day.

After covering counterterrorism, Wall Street insider trading and Ponzi schemes in past years, the season five drama ventures into the world of information management and whether one man’s quest for free speech clashes with another’s demand for privacy.

“It’s something that intrigues people because it’s a little bit: Is it good for people to know these things, or is it something that’s bad? Does it affect leadership, or is it something that only makes it much more difficult and complicated?” Close said.

In the season’s storyline, actor Ryan Phillippe portrays Channing McClaren, a man loosely based on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is determined to expose corporate America with a group of top-secret whistleblowers.

McClaren enlists Parsons to represent him in a lawsuit, making him her first client as an independent attorney. Taking note, Hewes pursues the hacker’s adversary, which places her at opposition with Parsons in court.

When the season ends in September, Byrne, who starred in the 2011 film comedy smash “Bridesmaids,” will appear in crime film, “The Place Beyond the Pines” and another comedy “I Give It A Year.”
Close plans to take time off and enjoy her marriage.

“I had a very intense couple of years and I’m really still coming down from that,” she said. “Five of the six years I’ve been married I was doing “Damages.” So that’s a new world and it’s great, and I really just want to sort of take time and really be sensitive to when I’m ready to get back.”

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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