When Still Alice, in which Julianne Moore plays a Columbia University professor deteriorating from early-onset Alzheimer’s, received an Oscar nomination and a slew of awards this winter, it’s possible that nobody was as uplifted as the film’s co-writers/co-directors, Richard Glatzer, 62, and Wash Westmoreland, 48.
Collaborators in art since 2001 and love since the mid-1990s, the married couple has been struggling with their own medical drama off-screen: in 2011, Glatzer was told he had A.L.S., aka amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Several years later, he lacks motor functions including the ability to speak, eat, or use his hands. However, his mind is as lively, witty, and sharp as ever, and he communicates via a computer program that speaks for him (he types on an iPad using a toe).
“We’re overwhelmed with the response,” Westmoreland admits via telephone from their home in Los Angeles’ Echo Park. “We’re pinching ourselves. I’d say Richard’s on ‘hit movie therapy.’ He’s buoyed up by the frenzy that’s happening around the world, even though we’re mostly at home.”