I don`t know if I`ve ever played a character who`s close to me. There have been some elements of myself in different roles. Sometimes, I show one side of myself and then completely conceal the other.
It`s a very instinctual relationship, a reaction to something in the script. I read a script and ask myself, "Is this a story I want to tell?" An actor is really a storyteller and sometimes the story being told is as important as the character in the story. Sometimes, I look at a character and say, "I don`t know the first thing about this person, who she is and where she`s coming from." That fascinates me. I know in order to get there I have to do my work, to think through in psychological terms who this person is and examine her whole thinking process. Sometimes you recognize certain elements of yourself that you didn`t know were there. I also write biographies of my characters ever since Animal House (1978). I even do some research into the background if it`s important. I create the character`s history, who`s her family and other things. It really does help.