Forty-five years into her legendary acting career, Glenn Close can now say she is a Golden Globe winner for the third time. The 71-year-old star received Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her portrayal of the elegant, talented yet self-effacing Joan Castleman in Bjorn Runge’s The Wife.

Close earned the prestigious award twice before; first, for her portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 2003 television film The Lion in Winter and again in 2005 for her starring role as Patty Hewes in the FX drama series Damages. She won three times out of a whopping 14 Golden Globe nominations.

Backstage, the actress said, “I adore what I do. And for me to be up here is the sum of all the choices that I’ve made over the last 45 years. And you don’t know when you’re given a script–I get a very visceral, a very subjective reaction–but you don’t know if anybody else will think it’s good. You do it because you think it will be challenging, and you’ll be with a creative group of people that will make it a great process.” In the press room speech, Close shared she’d never played a role like Castleman–a character “who chose to be in the background” and whose inner struggle was both quiet and complicated.

Certainly, Castleman represents a different type of role for which Close is famous. She was often typecast in nurturing mother roles earlier in her career. Close’s film debut was in The World According to Garp in 1982, followed by performances in The Big Chill 1983, and The Natural–all of which Close received Oscar nominations for her supporting roles. But it was her portrayal as the disturbed book editor Alex Forrest in the box-office hit Fatal Attraction that propelled Close into a major star as the iconic role allowed the actress to show her wide range. She went on to receive an Oscar nod for the performance and for subsequent lead roles as the vengeful Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons and the nineteenth-century butler Albert Nobbs.

On Sunday night’s acceptance speech for The Wife, Close referred to her beloved mother and the manner in which she subjugated herself during her life–to the point where, at the end of her life, she told Glenn, “I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.” Close says her mom was artistic and full of potential but decided to dedicate her time solely to being a wife and mother. “I understood what she meant. Because there’s another part of you that has nothing to do with who’s in your life, and everything to do with what’s in your heart and what’s in your soul, and what feeds you and makes you feel that you’re giving an important contribution to your life,” Close said.

Many praise Close’s ability to pull off Joan Castleman’s poignant silent moments with distinct intensity. “I work really in my imagination,” the actress said. “And to imagine myself in those scenes thinking the thoughts of that character would be thinking. And I think it resonated on film.”

Close once reflected back to her childhood, saying, “I have no doubt that the days I spent running free in the evocative Connecticut countryside with an unfettered imagination, playing whatever character our games demanded, is one of the reasons that acting has always seemed so natural to me.” When she was in elementary school, her parents joined a “cult,” according to Close, living in controlling communal centers for 15 years. Her aspirations to become an actress empowered her to gladly break away from the group. The budding actress went to New York where she delved into theater productions for several years.

Close told The Hollywood Reporter some early advice she received which she never forgot: “Never compare your career to anyone else’s,” she recalled. “It’s in a highly competitive field that we’re in. And you can get, you know, if you let yourself, ‘I wish I could’ve played that!’ You know. But if you eat yourself up like that, you destroy something that’s very important. So I think it’s a very profound piece of advice because it’s meant to me that I’m very subjective about what I choose, and I own it. I own my choices. Good and bad–we’re the result of all our choices, and we don’t know, we don’t have any template, just what feels right.”

Besides the three Golden Globe Awards, the acclaimed actress is the recipient of three Tony Awards and three Primetime Emmy Awards. Her six Oscar nods to date means she has more Academy Award nominations without a win than any other living actor.