Backstage At The Golden Globes

Nikki Finke: Live-Snarking Golden Globes
Golden Globes Winners List

All photos by Getty Images

After being nominated and falling short in three categories — screenplay, drama and directing for The Ides Of March — on Sunday at the Golden Globe Awards — George Clooney finally came up a winner in best actor/drama for The Descendants. The Alexander Payne-directed film also nabbed the best motion picture-drama award. The first question lobbed at Clooney concerned Republican president candidate Mitt Romney and his anti-gay stand. “I don’t consider him a contender until he’s an actual nominee, but he’s on the wrong side of history.” Clooney was soon joined on stage by his fellow Descendants best motion picture/drama winners, director Payne and producers Jim Taylor and Jim Burke. “You have to look at Alexander and all five of his films are wonderfully made, he knows how to tell a story and how to turn it around,” Clooney said. “I think this film, which is a coming of age film for a 50-year old, touches people.”

Reflecting on The Ides Of March and The Descendants, Clooney acknowledged genuine satisfaction for this evening’s win. “This is three years of hard work and they’re years of what matters to me. It feels nice to have this acknowledgment. … I’m a big fan of film, it’s what I do and love.” The predicted Oscar race between Clooney and Brad Pitt ended the onstage conversation, with Clooney laughing off any kind of rivalry. “We’re friends. There are no wagers or trash talk. We just slap each other on the back and wish each other well.” …

Payne was asked how he chooses his stories. The helmer said he and he producing partners are attracted to story-driven film. “We are interested in making all films — comedies, human stories,” Payne said. “As far as me as a human director … maybe [this] is a bit more serious than our previous comedies, but it’s still in our wheelhouse. And I think George is a like-minded fellow.” When asked whether he chooses material or if material chooses him, Payne said he was relieved someone else might suggest a story might find him. “I think I sound pretentious whenever I say that. Material does present itself to me. … You can tell from the films we make are human stories, [with a] sense of melancholy and laughs.” Payne said he’ll start shooting in May on a father/son road trip film via Fox Searchlight, noting he’s still trying to get the cast together. “They’ll travel from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. …

Meryl Streep started winning at the Golden Globes in 1980 for her role in Kramer Vs. Kramer, and The Iron Lady was her eighth trophy. With Michelle Williams taking the top acting honor in the comedy/musical category with My Week With Marilyn, The Weinstein Co will have a Sophie’s Choice to contend with should both actresses land Oscar nominations.

With regard to her latest character, Britain’s first woman prime minister and long-serving leader, Streep said she doesn’t only look to famous or powerful women to play. “I don’t think about things that way. I think about every individual story. And if it’s a waitress, I’m fine with that. I’m not discriminating in that way.” Streep turned to Europe when speculating what she might say to Lady Thatcher if she were able to speak with the former PM. “I’d be interested in what she thinks about Europe right now — I know this sounds esoteric — and the debt crisis and whether her views on that have evolved.”

Streep described her evolving view on Thatcher. “I think coming into this I had a reductive view of Margaret Thatcher. We do what we usually do to political leaders we don’t agree with. We turn them in to more than human and less than human and the same time. So I looked at a person behind the headlines and to see the human behind those headlines in the winter of her life and find compassion. …”

Turning to Streep’s numerous Oscar nominations, comparisons to Susan Lucci and that actress’ evasive Emmy for All My Children emerged during the Q&A. “You know, I’m sure Susan Lucci is happy with her career and the longevity and fulfillment it has given her and that’s sort of how I feel,” Streep said. Elaborating on what inspires her to take on specific roles, she noted, “I’ve never really gotten to the bottom of me and the contradictions and conundrum I find in my own personality. I find some understanding of being alive through the characters I play. I gravitate toward the characters I think I feel something of me inside.”

About her onstage verbal slip, Streep laughed, “I can’t believe I said ‘shit’ on TV. I had such a good speech and here it is (pointing to her piece of paper), and I just can’t see it at all” — she forgot to bring her glasses onstage. Streep then turned serious talking about a group she’s involved with aiming to open a women’s history museum in the nation’s capital. “I’m very interested in the stories of women, especially the unwritten story of women. I’m involved with a group to purchase land on the national mall to have the first women’s history museum. So many stories I could go on for hours.” She noted the organization’s website: http://www.nwhm.org. …

The Globes went to the dogs tonight. More specifically to Uggie the dog from best picture/comedy or musical The Artist. Producer Thomas Langmann (above, left to right), Missi Pyle, Uggie, Jean Dujardin and director Michel Hazanavicius came after George Clooney backstage. Dujardin was asked something about being the so-called “George Clooney of France.” Dujardin smiled bashfully, and then with the aid of a translator responded, “It’s a joke. … It’s very nice, but it’s very hard to hear such things.” Dujardin picked up Uggie who had joined them onstage, and scratched his head.


Modern Family

The love affair between America and the ABC comedy Modern Family continued tonight with its first Golden Globe triumph for comedy or musical series after having taken the top prize at the Emmys two years running. But exec produce Steven Levitan cautioned that no one was becoming smug or fat and sassy. “We don’t want to appear to be gloating,” he said. “We’re very proud of every single award. We’re all about maintaining that level of quality. That’s what keeps us up at night and working hard.” Levitan added that he and his production partner Chris Lloyd “thank the Lord every day” for having assembled the cast they did. “It could just as easily have gone a different way,” he said. “What if this magic chemistry we kind of stumbled into had never happened? That keeps us up nights, too. We just feel so incredibly lucky every day to be the beneficiaries of one of those happy accidents where 10 people are cast and you don’t want to replace a single one.” …

After his surprise (shocking?) win for best actor in a TV comedy series for the Showtime freshman half-hour Episodes, Matt LeBlanc was quietly thrilled after having come up empty in three previous Golden Globes nominations for Friends. “I’ve got to say this feels damn good!” he said. “Friends was an awesome experience, and this has a similar feel … I can’t say enough about the writing on the show. Without that, there is no show. It all starts on the page. I learned that lesson when I starred in the Friends spinoff (Joey). Now I have great writing and direction again and that makes all the difference in the world.” LeBlanc also admitted it was a little bit odd winning an award for playing a fictitious version of himself. “My initial reaction to doing the role was that I wasn’t terribly comfortable with it,” he said. “But I finally decided that I don’t mind being the brunt of the joke as long as it’s a good joke. And it is.” …

Morgan Freeman understandably was in a reflective mood after being honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement that he’d just been presented in part by Sidney Poitier. That carried particular resonance for him. “Sidney Poitier represents my guiding beacon,” Freeman said. “When his career cranked up and I was a teenager, I felt certain seeing him that there would be room for me. So I am always saying to him and to the world at large, most of us need something to guide us and hang our hopes and dreams on. And Sidney, as my guiding light, represents that for me. I am so honored that he thinks of me as his friend.” He also was asked to look back to the role that made the biggest difference in his career. It was his part in the 1987 film Street Smart. “The movie didn’t do all that well,” he said, “but I got a nomination for it. It wound up being such a catalyst for me.” But when it came time to acknowledge his modest roots as a daytime serial actor in the soap Another World, Freeman was significantly less sentimental. Regarding the demise of All My Children and One Life to Live, he said, “After 100 years, it’s time for them to go.” …

Beaming as she took the mike backstage after winning best supporting actress for her role in The Help, Octavia Spencer acknowledged her co-stars and turned on the humble: “First of all, I don’t think I walked away with the film — I think we had the best ensemble. This film is a very important part of our history. While the story is fictitious, it is a part of the fabric of our country and I think young people don’t know that. The only way you can grow and heal is to acknowledge that pain. The women Viola [Davis] and I play are fictional but they represent scores of people.” Lightening the moment, and jokingly anticipating the next question, Spencer grinned and said, “No, I’m not sleeping with Brad Pitt.”

Asked about the lingering controversy over The Help‘s storyline in which a white woman [Emma Stone] inspiring African Americans, Spencer shook her head negatively. “I’m probably one of the most militant women you ever will meet. When I read the book I bristled at first because of the type of language it used. But then I noticed that in the context of the socio-economic hand they were dealt, I understood that. I wasn’t a fan of Gone With The Wind though … I think that we have to look at these women who all came together [across race] to create change.”

Again lightening the moment, Spencer dispensed with her shoes. “I’m sorry y’all! I love you but I have to kick these shoes off! They’re lovely though and worth a little bit of pain. (She dropped a couple of inches after removing them). Asked about an earlier comment that the parties were the best part of awards season, she momentarily went silent then said, “The partying is fun. I’m living the dream of a lot of actors and actresses out there. And it is a party, and I have the ultimate party favor” and then held up her Golden Globe. Exiting the stage, Spencer asked conspiratorially, “Oh, would you please not tell anyone I kicked my shoes off?” …

The Hollywood Foreign Press has always loved Jessica Lange and, as many pundits predicted, she took home her fifth Golden Globe for her supporting role in FX’s American Horror Story. Lange is in the dark when it comes to spoilers for season two of the hit series, mentioning only that Ryan Murphy “is considering a second season” for her playing a different character. “I don’t know why there aren’t more great scripts for actresses. It has suffered in recent years. I rarely see a script where the writing excites me. Everytime I got an American Horror Story” script, they always wrote something that was exciting and challenging. Ryan Murphy is brilliant. He’s the most imaginative (voice) working in TV or film.”

“The great thing about working with young actors like Evan Peters is that there’s a rawness in him, one that I find exciting in actors; where you can’t anticipate what they’re going to do and all the emotions are there under the surface.” The hardest part of playing the crazed mother Constance Langdon on American Horror Story is “The hairdo!” exclaimed Lange. “Not the writing, the acting or the other actors, it was the hairdo that tested my patience” That said, the most challenging scenes “were those that I was handed 12 hours before we had to shoot them. The final monologue in the final episode was something I had to nail down in an incredibly short period of time.” Asked about how horror resonates, Lange said, “I think it’s a genre that appeals to a lot of people. There’s something in the psyche that enjoys the sense of being frightened.” …

Claire Danes, who seems to win one of these things every year, received the Globe for TV drama lead actress award for her work in Showtime’s Homeland, called her role “a real blessing” backstage. “It’s very unusual to have a chance to take on a character this this that’s so layered and so dynamic,” she added. “I’ve never encountered a role like this before. It’s a great thrill to explore something this interesting.” She went on to praise the “spectacular” quality of the show and how taxing it’s been to be “asked to do more than I’ve ever been asked to do. It’s exhausting but fabulous … I was absolutely riveted by the pilot and trusted Alex and Howard to sustain that level. It’s a leap of faith, and I have to admit I’ve been profoundly relieved that Homeland has so captured the audience’s imagination and really landed and resonated.” It’s also been a challenge playing a character with bipolar disorder for Danes. She admits to enjoying “nerding out” and taking on the research of a character like this “like a homework assignment.” …

Best actor in a supporting role Peter Dinklage shared what it’s like to take to the stage at the Globes still clearly basking in the moment, then launching in to thanking his colleagues on Game Of Thrones. ” I keep spacing out when I get up [on stage] because it’s very surreal. My cast and fellow crew make it so much fun to go to work. If you so don’t have great people you get to work with [then it’s not worth it].” Continuing with the shoutouts, Dinklage added, “We have a handful of the most amazing writers in the whole business. The end of the first season, you don’t really know what’s going to happen. It’s a very smart narrative [show] and it’s not formulaic. You have to push the envelope and challenge people’s expectations and that’s part of the addiction of the show because you don’t know what’s going to happen.” …

Jumping backstage after his win for Tintin as Best Animated Feature Film, Steven Spielberg admitted some trepidation at having War Horse and Tintin heading to theaters within nearly simultaneously, commenting, “In my right mind, I’d never release two movies within five days of each other, but Tintin is great for young people and younger families, while War Horse is appealing to people a bit older. My 19-year-old likes War Horse and my [younger child] likes Tintin.

Asked about how he works generally and when he decides to direct or produce he shared that a gulf of time usually exists between directing gigs. “There are usually three years at a time where I’ll produce and do Dreamworks but won’t direct. Between 2009-10 there was a great convergence for [Tintin and War Horse] to come together.”

Spielberg gave a thumbs up to technology, echoing what many indie filmmakers and the DIY community have been saying for some years now. “What I think is wonderful with film students in making movies is that they can do them on their phone and then get their work on YouTube and have 4 million people see it. I never had that when I was growing up. But my heroes were Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood, so we all have our heroes we look to for our careers.”

Spielberg went on to say that he wasn’t sure how he decides what project to take on other than he doesn’t want to repeat himself. “I don’t know. I try not to make the same movie I’ve done before. There’s no alignment of the planets that makes me want to direct a film. Once I sign on, a month later I want to get out of it, but when I commit, I commit. But there’s no one kind of a movie I look to for directing – no criteria.” …

Speaking through a translator, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi said he was pleased with the best foreign language film award for A Separation because he hopes more American audiences will take a look at the film, which took awards from Berlin and Chicago in addition to the National Board of Review, and it’s nominated for a Spirit Award: “This award is very important for two reasons: It’s an award that was chosen by critics and critics are not easy to please and this will likely cause more audiences to find this movie.” Asked about ongoing tension between the U.S. and his native Iran, Farhadi said, “In my opinion, the people between the two countries have no issues with each other.” …

A very relaxed and refreshed-looking Kelsey Grammer was honored to win an award for his dramatic TV chops after years of Emmys and Globes for portraying Dr. Frasier Crane. But he preferred to discuss his wife’s just-announced pregnancy (twins) than talk about taking the Globe for lead actor in a drama for his work as a political boss in Starz’s Boss. “I haven’t started a lot of new activity in my career,” he said. “I’ve been home so much with my new life. Right now I’m just really happy gearing up for the second season of Boss and my wife’s expecting. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now … I’m really looking forward to meeting those new arrivals.” Grammer is thrilled to be playing his Boss character. “I’ve never had this much fun playing anything. Hopefully, this kind of attention will lead to more people getting a chance to see the show now. Over the next several seasons on Starz, I’m sure we’ll garner quite an audience share.” …

Raising the stakes in the best actress race this season, Michelle Williams collected the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical for The Weinstein Co.’s My Week With Marilyn. Asked whom she shares credit with other than herself for playing Marilyn Monroe: “There’s so many people, when you find yourself in this lucky position, it’s endless. I don’t think you’d print them all: My family, the driver who listened to two months of vocal work I did in the car on the way to set.” “The hardest part (to playing Marilyn Monroe) was saying ‘yes,’ and taking on the responsibility with this role.” When asked about Monroe being snubbed for her performance in The Prince and the Showgirl, Williams answered, “I have a tremendous fondness for the performance. The film falls apart, but she’s luminous in the moment, everything feels like it’s happening for her for the first time. Her comic touch was her greatest touch.” (the first person) I’m going to call is my mother.” Asked about her daughter with the late actor Heath Ledger, the actress said “My daughter inspires me to be a better actor. Really, i just have to be the best mom I can be. There’s no part of my life that goes untouched by my daughter.”

Who is Williams’ beauty icon? “I suppose my friends who I look up to in that way; their funny faces, watching them laugh and cry and change their haircuts.” “I felt tremendous responsibility,” said Williams about the pressure in reawakening Monroe on the big screen, “Every other character I have played has been in my head, but there was a responsibly and known commodity with Marilyn Monroe that was new and terrifying.” …

Idris Elba felt like his win for lead actor in a movie-miniseries for his work in Luther supplied a measure of vindication for all of the years when Elba’s work in HBO’s critically revered The Wire never was. “It feels fantastic,” he said. “The fact that I was able to win here is very dear to me,” Elba said backstage. “People still don’t know my name. But they remember The Wire. And hopefully they’ll be able to see my work in Luther as a great character and a great legacy to continue. And the fact people remember my character from The Wire to this day means a lot to me.” He also addressed the rumor that once Daniel Craig is finished playing James Bond, Elba’s name is in the mix to replace him. “Of course I’d be honored to play the part if it comes my way.” …

Having already collected a European Film Award for best composer on The Artist, Ludovic Bource‘s Golden Globes best score win was the first trophy handed out tonight for Weinstein Co.’s highly buzzed award season contender The Artist. Amid heavy screams from the nearby photo room where winners queued up, the French composer, speaking through a translator, exclaimed, “This is an incredible honor, it’s such a great honor. I’m so pleased to be here.” …

After their win for best TV Drama, the Homeland producers and cast teased some of the upcoming season of the series noting that when it picks up, “We will not start off where the series left off in the previous year,” said Howard Gordon. “The international aspect of the show will be highlighted in the next season, so you’ll see some foreign locations. The producers also noted that there was some concern that world events would turn audiences away from the show. “We were worried that there would be a level of fatigue about the war on terror, but to our relief, people were open to looking at ourselves and how America projects power across the world.” Adding a personal note, young actress Morgan Saylor commented, ” I think what the show looks at more than others is relationships … Everybody has an in-depth relationship and that’s what makes the audience relate to the show.” …

With her second Golden Globe, for best original song “Masterpiece” from W.E., Madonna was very chatty backstage staying even after a handler said the Q&A was over. The singer/actress/author and now filmmaker talked exercise, her closet, style, the Duchess of Windsor, the Superbowl and her new album. “I’m not doing Pilates anymore, I’m just dancing,” Madonna said when asked about her health regimen. When asked about her fellow nominee, Elton John, Madonna quipped: “Elton John is known to get mad at me, I hope he’ll still speak to me. But he’ll win another award … When asked whom she looks up to as a style influence, Madonna turned to the title character in her latest film. “I made a movie about a style icon, Wallis Simpson. She was not conventionally beautiful, but I look up to her for her style.” About W.E. Madonna remarked on what drives her famously heavy work ethic. “It took me three years to make this movie and while I was doing it, I had a bunch of things pushing me. Making my record was always next in line and then I was asked to do the Superbowl and then the tour. I have to pay the rent.” …

Elizabeth McGovern, one of the stars of the top movie/mini winner Downton Abbey, was asked why she thinks this project has connected with audiences on such a visceral level. “People like going into a world without mobile phones and Twitter, though they don’t know (costar) Hugh Bonneville tweets most of his scenes. People are intrigued by these characters, and the writing of Julian Fellows is incredibly intriguing.” Writer-creator Julian Fellowes believes that the obsession with Abbey and by extension the feature The Help is about a fascination with looking at the lives of different types of people in the same place. “The device we’re always looking for is a legitimate and believable excuse for people of different backgrounds feasibly living under the same roof,” he said. “You could say Mad Men achieves that too.” …

Laura Dern‘s win for her work in Enlightened seemed to catch her totally off guard, and she didn’t dispute that notion backstage when meeting with the press. “I am kind of in shock, and I wonder if you’ll allow me to say a few thank you’s now,” she said. “I completely didn’t prepare a speech. When you’re nominated with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, you know you’re not going to win. I didn’t have a chance to thank our wonderful directors, including Jonathan Demme and of course Mike White.” She was asked if she drew on anyone with health issues to prepare for playing her Enlightened character. “If I did,” she said, “it would be a number of people and they would all be in the room tonight because I’ve grown up around a collection of artists and I feel things in a large way … I think the occupy movement is a huge part of what we’re all feeling and I feel privileged to be a part of that zeitgeist at this time.” She added that one of the biggest thrills in being involved with Enlightened is “to feel like a true contributor in the birth of a character. That was a huge experience.” …

Having already won the Emmy Award for best actress in a miniseries, Kate Winslet‘s win for her role in HBO’s Mildred Pierce comes as no surprise. Winslet earns her third Golden Globe after rallying in 2009 with a double win for best actress (Revolutionary Road) and best supporting actress (The Reader). Asked if she has any interest in taking on the role of Elizabeth Taylor in which Lindsay Lohan has expressed interest, Winslet said, “I’ll decline to comment. It’s a massive undertaking. I’m not gonna go there dude.” She added that her dream role would be “to play a man, that’s something I do know. I don’t know what kind of man, but would be really interested.”…

Looking back on the roles he’s played and the one for Beginners, Christopher Plummer was introspective about the breadth of characters he’s played. “I’ve played most of the great roles. This role affected me because he was such an understated human creature that I hadn’t played in a long time. I was very apprehensive about it in the beginning, but I never had such a fun time before in front of the camera in my life.”

Ray Richmond contributed to this report.

(Photos: Getty Images)

  1. Lovely woman. Fine performance. Viola Davis as well. The movie needed the White women roles to make the story of Black women palatable to a broad audience. Imperfect but successful. Has the needle moved on stories of color?

    What projects do Black award winners get after they win?

    Look at Jamie Foxx, Mo’nique, Halle Berry. Taraji P. Henson, Gabourey Sidibe, Butterfly McQueen, Morgan Freeman.

    What does the Globe accomplish for her career? Features? Series?

    1. The only people who truly believe that white people are needed to make a “black” story (or a “latino” story or an “indian” story or an “asian” story) palatable to broad audiences are small-minded, short-sighted Hollywood producers…and I guess you.

      Neither Henson or McQueen won Globes. And I do believe everyone else is doing just fine. Off the top of my head Sidibe has a recurring role in Showtime’s “The Big C” with Laura Linney and in the feature “Tower Heist” with Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller.

      As for Freeman, with his career, he need not do anything else if he doesn’t want to.

  2. Terrence-

    Unless you want your project on BET or to run three episodes like “Undercovers” or get no press like “State of Georgia,” “Lincoln Heights” or that Taye Diggs as a lawyer show or that Affion Crockett show on Fox, one must at least consider the Shonda Rhimes formula. Strong Black characters but only as B and C stories.

    “Small-minded” is a cheap shot. I”m just dropping knowledge. Are you really even in the business?

    How much advocacy and pressure to do the right thing did it take for Sidibe to get a little career going? Thank Oprah, Tyler Perry, critics and her team. How many other talented Black women get overlooked?

    Latino is whole other ball of wax. George Lopez – scripted and talk show, Ugly Betty, Mi Familia… CBS’s “Rob!” has a non-Hispanic lead and some let’s say “tone” problems. People of color don’t get treated right in CBS comedies (Han Lee as played by Moy, Garrett Morris’s character in “2 Broke Girls”).

    Or they’re not there at all across nets. (HIMYM, Friends, 2 1/2 Men, Suburgatory). Or they play generic, non-ethnic characters.

    Why such vitriol, Terrence? Save your venom for the systems that thin the ethnic population in media.

    Great Globes coverage, Nikki et al!

  3. Sorry but Octavia Spencer and every black woman in that movie ought to be ashamed of The Help as it was nothing more than one big shuck and jive act. Truly one of the most revolting and racist films to come out of Hollywood in decades. What an utter disgrace!

  4. Why is it “shuck & Jive” and not “step & fetch it”? Any other fun sayings, Dorothy?

    Why you got a problem with fiction that recognizes the fact that some Black women worked as domestics? Just like the Irish immigrants on “Boardwalk Empire.” Just like the English lower-classes on “Downton Abbey” “Gosford Park” and “Upstairs Downstairs.” Just like “Benson.” Nell Carter in “Gimme A Break.” Alice on “The Brady Bunch.” Florence on “The Jeffersons.”

    You gonna start talking out the side of your neck about those domestic workers in scripted entertainment? “Disgrace”? Word?

    They represent real people with hearts and aspirations, hungry for opportunity, that also take care of us.

    I hope to God my housekeeper C******* loves me as much as Viola Davis’s and Octavia Spencer’s characters. And the people that clean the offices, cook the food, check me out at the grocery store.

    Why you mad at a portrait of the working class? Is it only a problem when Black and women?

    Pls explain, Dorothy-

    Oh, and by the way, “The Nanny Diaries” had it all wrong. In NYC, nannies aren’t White; Au Pairs like Elin Nordgren are. In NYC, the nannies are majority of color and immigrants. Writing the nanny White and casting Scarlet Johannsen was a cop-out and disservice to the real Nanny population. The New Yorker had a good article about real nannies… I digress…

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