Saturday , September 19 2020

Oscar: Backstage Blather

The Hollywood Reporter was lurking around backstage – first the Ringers:

    “All I’m feeling right now is absolute disbelief,” Jackson said. “You hope that you will win something, but the sweep is unreal. It speaks to the fact that people enjoyed the movies that we made on all levels, and that’s the idea — you want people to enjoy it.”

    Jackson admitted that making the three films back to back almost killed him, but the joy of seeing his last film in the series sweep the Oscars could make him think about Round 2.

    “Right now, it feels like I could do it all over again,” he said. “It was absolutely worth it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a filmmaker, and what better film to work on?”

    Jackson added that he is grateful the Academy saw past the fantasy stigma of the trilogy. “So much has been said about fantasy films,” he said. “And I understand why, but every single movie that has been made is a fantasy film. Because ours had goblins and trolls and wizards and orcs made it hard to look past that, but I appreciate that the Academy and the voters have seen through all that.”

    Meanwhile, Lennox praised Jackson and his crew for including her in the mammoth project. “I feel like a very tiny party of a huge project,” she said. “But I thoroughly enjoyed working with this team of people.”

    Best actress winner Charlize Theron thanked her presenter, Adrien Brody, for making his kissing jokes before announcing the winner because she was incredibly nervous.

    “That relieved a lot of pressure,” said Theron, who was still overwhelmed by her win. Of that winning feeling, she said: “It’s kind of like a wedding — not that I’ve been married. It’s this strange sensation, and your body goes on automatic.”

    She also said she tried not to initially look at her mother for fear of bursting into tears. “I avoided looking at her until I had to. . . . It’s embarrassing to cry in front of however many people are out there,” she said.

    One reporter persistently tried to ask her about the ins and outs of same-sex kissing, but after initially indulging his questions, she laughed him off. “I can’t believe I’m talking about tongue action holding an Oscar.” And while Theron will travel to her native South Africa to help promote “Monster,” she said this evening was a fitting cap to the movie. “This is a kind of farewell,” she said. “It’s a good farewell.”

    No one was more surprised by the standing ovation for best actor winner Sean Penn than the actor himself. “I was there to debunk the notion that it was a popularity contest, but they took that joke away from me in the room,” he said. Gracious as he was in congratulating the actors who were nominated alongside him — as well as some who weren’t — he saved his most effusive thanks for his wife, Robin Wright Penn. “Some of us are just lucky to have such a singular, genuine heart in our lives, someone who consistently challenges us,” Penn said. “And those challenges are the same things that apply in our work.”

    The third time was a charm for Renee Zellweger, who capitalized on her third straight Oscar nomination by picking up the best supporting actress statuette for her role in “Cold Mountain.”

    “I didn’t think, ‘Finally,”‘ Zellweger said backstage of her three-year wait following noms for “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Chicago.”

    “I still don’t know what I thought. I’m a little overwhelmed; the invitation alone is overwhelming.”

    Her dowdy looks in the Anthony Minghella film might have underwhelmed audiences who were used to the glamour girl from “Chicago,” but Zellweger likes it that way.

    “It’s what interests me most, when you change yourself and the more removed the character is from your own experiences,” she said. “As an audience member and someone who likes to watch films, I love that. It’s a wonderful thing when you can get lost and forget who the person is and follow the character.”

    Best supporting actor winner Tim Robbins said that at this time last year, he had not even dreamed of winning an Oscar “because of the negative things that were written about me and (partner Susan Sarandon) for opposing the war.”

    But Robbins was impressed that Academy members didn’t bring that sentiment into the voting process. “I’m sure that many who voted didn’t agree with my politics, (but) they didn’t bring this divisive stuff into it,” he said. “I’m humbled and moved by it.”

    As for what he’ll do with his statuette, considering that Sarandon has one as well, Robbins said, “We’re going to get them in a little room, dim the lights, light some candles and see what happens.”

    “I feel like I’m getting auctioned off,” best original screenplay winner Sofia Coppola said upon arriving backstage to the hungry crowd of journalists with number cards in the air.

    The first bidder asked what it felt like to make history again, not only as the first American woman to be nominated for best director but also to make her family the second family to have three generations of Oscar winners.

    “I was so happy to look over at my parents, my cousin Nicolas, my brother Roman,” Coppola said. “I never thought my dad would be watching me get one — it’s a thrill.”

    She added that she plans to use the win as inspiration for her next project. “My goal is just to make movies, so this is encouraging, and I want to get back to writing and write another screenplay.”

    The third time was the charm for Canada, which collected the first best foreign-language film award in the country’s history. The distinction did not go unnoticed by Denys Arcand, the director of the winning film, “The Barbarian Invasions.”

    “I don’t know why we’re so late,” he said. “It’s full of Australians, New Zealanders. We’re like the third British colony that never seems to win anything.” Arcand did offer one theory on why Canada took its time to collect a foreign film win: “I guess it’s because half of our people are already working here,” he said.

    Forget vindication. Best documentary winner Errol Morris said he was happy to have finally taken home an Oscar.

    “By nature, I’m inclined to pessimism,” said “The Fog of War” helmer, who shared his win with producers Michael Williams and Julie Ahlberg.

    “Did I think I was going to win? I had hoped I would win, but I’ve had very bad experiences with the Academy in the past, so I was counting on not winning. But in saying that, I am very delighted to have won tonight. I don’t feel like I’ve been vindicated. I got an Oscar, and that’s enough.”

    Morris also continued to talk backstage of his thoughts on America’s current political situation. “I find our foreign policy atrocious and appalling. If ‘The Fog of War’ contributes to the debate of what’s going on in the world today, I am immensely pleased. My belief is that we live in a very dangerous time, and it’s important for people to be thinking about these issues — we need to be thinking about what we are doing.”

    As gratifying as her award for best documentary short subject was, “Chernobyl Heart” director Maryann DeLeo’s victory was tempered by the “survivor’s guilt” she felt after investigating the tragic fallout of the Soviet nuclear reactor meltdown. She witnessed the devastation firsthand after several visits to the victims. “You do feel like: Why are we going to be able to go back to a country and live your life and not worry about it while these people are fighting for their kids with holes in their hearts and other terrible birth defects?” DeLeo said.

    There also were more tangible lingering effects for DeLeo: She tested positive for minor radiation poisoning upon her return. “Compared to the people there, you don’t think about it,” she said.

    The value of his victory for best animated feature was not lost on Andrew Stanton, director of “Finding Nemo.” With the dissolution of the distribution deal between “Nemo” creators Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Co., Stanton saw the win as validation of his company’s future direction. “This just legitimizes that we’re going on the right track,” he said.

    For Howard Shore, it’s been a straight road from “Saturday Night Live” to the Oscar stage. “When I was on the show in 1975 and 1976, I always wanted to compose for feature films, and since then, it’s been a pretty linear journey to now working on “The Lord of the Rings,” said Shore, who has worked on more than 50 films. “It’s been an extremely gratifying experience and a great collaboration with Annie Lennox.”

    Russell Boyd, winner for his cinematography on “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” said the Peter Weir -directed film might have fared better on the Oscar stage had it been released in a year without Frodo and his clan.

    “We might have had a better shot in another year, actually,” Boyd said. “We are very proud of the nominations anyway, and I think ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was a brilliant work.”

    Sure, New Line is more than proud of its “Lord of the Rings” franchise, but perhaps running a close second in the trilogy’s fan club is New Zealand.

    “Yeah, I can hear the champagne bottles popping from here,” said art direction Oscar winner Grant Major, who won for his work on “King” along with Dan Hennah and Alan Lee. “There have been a lot of people there behind us wishing us well, so I’m sure they are all watching tonight. I’m sure they are thrilled.”

    Major and Hennah are heading back to their homeland to reteam with director Peter Jackson on his upcoming “King Kong.” “For Dan and I, it’s kind of like business as usual,” Major said.

    Gay relations had a big presence on the Oscar stage, from a joke between host Billy Crystal and presenter Robin Williams to a heartfelt “thank you” from best animated short film winner Adam Elliot to his boyfriend. But the latter said backstage that his wasn’t planned. “Actually, it just popped into my head; it wasn’t something I planned to do,” said the “Harvie Krumpet” director, who hails from Australia. “I’ve only been going out with him two months. In Australia, (homosexuality) isn’t that big of a deal, so it wasn’t a problem as far as I could see.”

That public statements like Elliot’s hardly register anymore is a good sign.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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