Diane Haithman, Ray Richmond and Anthony D’Alessandro are contributing to Deadline’s Oscar coverage.
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Ben Affleck was asked at what point he realized that Argo was gaining enough momentum to win the Best Picture Oscar. “When they gave us the trophies, I was confident that we would win,” joked Affleck, flanked by producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov. He added that throughout awards season he has not been into “Oscarology” and trying to predict the future. Affleck also joked that now that Argo has won Best Picture, “no more humility.” He followed this, of course, with humility. He acknowledged disappointment when he was not nominated for Best Director but said he was honored to “sit on the bench” with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow and Paul Thomas Anderson. “You are not entitled to anything,” he said to applause. “I’m honored to be here, honored to be among these extraordinary movies and honored to have won an Academy Award.” Affleck added that he was “sort of hallucinating” already when the audience was surprised by Michelle Obama announcing the award, so he wouldn’t have been surprised by anything: “Oh look, a purple elephant!” But he added that, once he realized what was happening, it was “very cool.” “And I’m a big fan of the bangs,” Heslov joked. Affleck also responded to a question about recent criticism that elements of Argo diverge from reality. “You walk a fine line,” he said, in honoring the basic truth and trying also to honor the three-act structure of a feature film. He praised screenwriter Chris Terrio for achieving that balance.
Related: Oscars 2013 Winners List
As the first actor to win three Oscars in the lead actor category, Daniel Day-Lewis wasn’t nearly as deadpan and jokey backstage as he was onstage while receiving his honor for Lincoln. The biggest challenge in the role, he admitted, was the fear that if he screwed up playing an iconic American President he “might never be able to show my face in this country again…It certainly had a paralyzing quality.” One reporter wanted to know if it was annoying having to “wear that beard,” apparently unaware that the beard was Day-Lewis’ own and not a fake. “Do you wear your hair?” he asked. “It was a little bit scratchy now and then, but that was all.” He has no plans at present to play any other legendary historical figures, and in fact, he stressed that he was pretty exhausted after playing the role and enduring awards season. “I want to have a lie-down for a couple of years. It’s really hard to imagine doing anything after this.”
Lucky Jennifer Lawrence: Backstage, the 22-year-old actress had to field as many questions about falling on her way up the stairs to accept her Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook as about winning the golden award she clutched in one hand. She was asked what happened. Duh. “What do you mean, what happened, look at this dress, I tried to walk up the stairs in this dress, that’s what happened!” she exclaimed, gesturing with the generous skirt of her pale gown. “I stepped on the fabric, and they waxed the stairs.” And what did she think as she took the tumble? “A bad word.” She paused. “And it starts with an F.” Despite confessing that she was too nervous to eat a bite today, Lawrence was in a joking mood. Backstage, journalists hold up numbers when they have a question to ask, leading the actress to quip: “This isn’t like an auction, right?” She also said that in calling on questioners she felt like she was “picking people to make fun of me.” Lawrence also gave an incredulous look when a questioner asked her if she was worried that winning an Oscar at age 22 meant that she has “peaked too early.” “Well, now I am,” she replied. On a more serious note, Lawrence said that she hoped that the film would help to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. “I don’t think we are going to stop until we get rid of the stigma, I know David [director David O. Russell] won’t,” she said. She called it bizarre that it’s OK to take medication for asthma or diabetes but “as soon as you have to take medicine for your mind, it’s such a stigma.” One last question Lawrence: Did she like first-time host Seth McFarlane, in particularly his musical tribute to boobs? “I loved the boob song. I thought he was hilarious. I thought he was great,” she said.
“It came true” was the way Anne Hathaway began her acceptance speech for winning supporting actress for her work in Les Miserables. So naturally she was asked backstage what she specifically meant by that. “I had a dream,” the emotional Hathaway began before her voice cracked and she began to tear up. :”I had a dream…and it came true. And that’s wonderful. All I was saying was (tears)…that it can and it did.” Most of Hathaway’s time backstage, however, was more composed. One reporter wanted to know if this win finally scotches the actress’s underdog status forevermore. “Officially? Never!” Hathaway declared defiantly. “If you want to get realistic with it, you’re always looking for your next job. You always think at the end of one (job) that no one will ever hire me again.” So that’s what Hathaway was thinking when she was onstage? That she hopes she gets another job? Even though she was the favorite in her category going in? Not exactly. “This evening I do feel the respect of my peers and I’m going to ride that wave as long as I can. But I have a practical approach to acting. Gotta work, gotta work, gotta work.” And Hathaway still won’t admit when watching her own performance that she thinks she’s all that. “All I can hear is the notes I didn’t quite hit,” she says. “Hopefully I’ll get over it someday.”
Christoph Waltz still seemed bemused by his win when he came backstage. He said he could not describe how he felt because “it was I think five minutes ago that I got this.” While most actors praise their fellow nominees, Waltz seemed truly overwhelmed by the company he is keeping tonight: “How do you think someone feels when suddenly his name is called in that context?” he said, citing the names of his distinguished fellow nominees. After winning his second Oscar for his work with director Quentin Tarantino, the actor was asked if he was planning a third film with Tarantino (more specifically, the questioner asked if they were planning a “third role in a revisionist history trilogy”). With a laugh, Waltz said: “Like I said, this is about 7 minutes old. I failed to catch the moment to remind Quentin that I’m around.” The German-Austrian actor was asked a quirky question by actor David Arquette (who was acting as a press room interviewer for Howard Stern): How would Waltz feel if the next Pope is black? “I have to tell you one thing: It would be an exciting thing [but] I am a very adamant nonracist,” Waltz said. “I don’t care whether the pope is black or white or whatever color. If we are nonracist we have to stay nonracist all the way.” In answer to a questioner who observed that Django Unchained is perhaps the highest grossing Western movie of all time, Waltz said: “I’m just an actor, I’m not an accountant. I love this movie not for being the highest grossing one. I love this movie because it’s a fabulous exciting piece of entertainment with a really deep message. I’m glad that it’s popular, but the money — sorry, I do something else.”
The D may have been silent in his Django Unchained, but the Q in Quentin certainly wasn’t backstage as Tarantino — fresh from his second Oscar win for original screenplay — was his typically effusive and effervescent force of nature. He was even moved by one question to play out a scene from Django, line by line. Was winning the Oscar vindication after all of the criticism he received for Django‘s profane script? Actually, Tarantino said, all of the flak wound up being “kind of a good thing.” He went on, “I wanted to start a conversation about slavery and America’s role in it…Even the people who criticized it helped to start a kind of back and forth. And that back and forth is what I really wanted at the end of the day, and I hope it continues the next few years.” Following up on his classy comments onstage, Tarantino also had great praise for all of the Best Picture nominees as well as for his fellow writing nominees. “I’ve been doing a lot of studying of films from the late 1960s and early ’70s,” he said, “which was the beginning of the New Hollywood. I have to say, (this year) I recognized that same spirit. Nothing about the subject of all of them is necessarily commercial or popular, but they have been.” He added that he thinks the adult filmgoing audience “is kind of rising up and in fact not making movies for teenagers which is kind of a cool thing, wince I’m not a teenager anymore.” He also took pride in the international embrace of his films. “The way I look at it, I’m not an American filmmaker. I’m American and a filmmaker, but I make movies for planet Earth.”
Ang Lee addressed the concerns of VFX protesters tonight head-on, in talking about Life Of Pi with the press. “This film had great visual effects and it’s false to think that (VFX workers) are just technicians. The movie I wanted to follow was 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sheer visual experience. It’s bad news that visual effects are too expensive and I’m aware of Rhythm & Hues’ (situation).” The director is open about shooting another 3D film, and believes that as the format becomes cheaper, more filmmakers will experiment with it. However, at this moment, Lee is unsure if he’ll tackle another big budget film like Pi. “This movie carried a lot of anxiety for me over four years,” explained Lee, “It was an expensive movie based on a philosophical book and that’s the worst combination.
When it came to balancing the comedic aspects of the Argo screenplay and its severe political drama, Chris Terrio took his inspiration from the real-life character of make-up artist John Chambers played by John Goodman. “Chambers was a guy who not only made masks for Planet of the Apes but these disguises for spies as well. He was a guy who cracked jokes and this gave me permission to use acerbic wit and irony. When I was falling into the abyss of the film’s tone, I would cling to John.” Also, Ben Affleck’s approach to the project as an actor didn’t hurt either. “He’s such a humanist and was always interested in the human face. There’s a moment when he holds the camera on the faces of the Iranians and you see that they’re normal people caught up in a political nightmare and revolution,” explained Terrio, “As an actor, he always brought the story back to the human face.”
Best film score Oscar winner Mychael Danna said he actually started writing the music to Life Of Pi “10 years ago, when I first read the book even though I started talking with Ang Lee five years ago.” Danna always knew big orchestras and choirs were elements, especially given the novel’s approach to religions and cultures. “It was a film where the score had to carry a big load given the moments of non-dialogue and silence,” said Danna, “The music had to speak for the characters and the story and we took great care in molding that.”
John Kahrs, who won for animated short for the silent Disney film Paperman, admitted backstage that it’s difficult trying to get distribution for his art form these days. He credited John Lassiter’s idea to put shorts in front of features as inspired and “the best place for it. I feel lucky to ride on his coattails.” But he noted that it remains tough getting international distribution, though he credited Disney with “really pushing for depth and stories that will last for generations, stories for families that will last the test of time.” The creativity evident in his Oscar-winning short — combining 2D and CG animation — was part of that new Disney philosophy, Kahrs said. “We put them together in a way that hasn’t been seen before,” he added. An odd moment at the end of backstage questioning occurred late, when David Arquette — covering the Oscars for Howard Stern — asked Kahrs about his favorite thing in his Oscar swag bag. When Kahrs hemmed and hawed, Arquette mentioned the condoms in the bag, quipping, “If you aren’t going to use them, I can,” he concluded to groans in the room.
Brenda Chapman exclaimed back in August in her New York Times piece that she was devastated over her dismissal from Brave, particularly since it was based on her relationship with her daughter, but her Oscar win tonight “Absolutely makes up for it” said the director. “I told Mark (Andrews), I was happy with the outcome of the film,” said Chapman about her co-director who took over, “He has a daughter with three sons and I knew he would understand the film, along with the fact that he loves Scotland as well. I wasn’t sure about his fairy tale sensibility.” Said Andrews about their eight-year Pixar-Disney production, “The animation process is a collaborative one, and the thing that I loved about Brenda’s story is what everyone loved about it. I wanted to honor that when I came aboard. It’s an organic process that’s fragile and delicate and there are a lot of plates to spin.”
Onstage, Claudio Miranda called Life Of Pi “a beast to make.” Backstage, he observed: “I really thought this movie would be smaller than it was” and praised the studio for their support. He said his favorite thing about working in film is to “be involved with a director [where we] both push each other. It is exciting to have that kind of a reaction to a director and it’s not so common sometimes.”
“I’d love to get a job,” was how live action short winner Shawn Christensen responded backstage to the question of what he’d like to get out of the award, after having just won the Oscar for his short Curfew. “That’d be the first thing that would be nice to get,” he said. “It would also be nice to get into feature films and stay in short films.” Christensen wants to stay in shorts because he enjoys the pressure of making the form and was sure to toss credit to the Film Academy for its support of the art form in releasing the films theatrically. “The academy does that for audiences to enjoy them internationally,” he said. “I have to give them a big ‘Thank you’ for that. There’s nothing like seeing short films in theaters.”
When it came to representing the characters stylistically in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran said that it was always about “concentrating on silhouette and color.” As far as her Russian influences, Durran cribbed from the Vladimir Lenin era in regards to the household and military scenes, while a bulk of the film possessed a Parisian flavor. “The actors have a lot to do with the costumes,” added the designer on her influences, “They make them look alive and Keira Knightley is a dream to dress. She makes everything look the best.”
As expected, the team behind Life Of Pi won for VFX in what has to be seen as a bittersweet victory. Not so expected was the way that the head of that team, Bill Westenhofer, was played offstage just when he was beginning to address the dire situation facing the visual effects house that made the film, Rhythm & Hues, which was supported by an estimated 400 protesters gathered at Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood to bring attention to the company’s recent Chapter 11 financial woes. Twitter immediately blew up with protests of its own after Westenhofer was cut off in mid-sentence. Regarding the fate of Rhythm & Hues specifically, he called the house “a place that really catered to the artist” and noted that he’s concerned “the culture is preserved as long as the key people are preserved in that environment, I think it will carry on. We have to figure out a way to fix the business model.” This, in the wake of R&H’s having recently axed more than 250 employees without pay.
Best song winner Adele had to keep it short and sweet backstage since she had to rush back to her seat. However, one thing she cleared up was the rumor that she recorded “Skyfall” in just 10 minutes. “The first drop took 10 minutes, but it did take Paul (Epworth) and I a bit longer to record the song. We’re good, but we’re not that good.” Describing her songwriting process with Epworth, Adele explained, “we throw ideas at each other, but sometimes it can get dry and we don’t connect, but we work it out.” And as far as her future is concerned, the songstress joked, “I’d like an HBO special like Beyonce did.”
For husband-wife directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix, the most important aspect of winning best documentary for their short Inocente remains giving a voice to the homeless, the subject of their short. This was further underscored by the fact that their guest Inocente, the young homeless girl in the film, had the opportunity to stand on stage in front of millions of people. “It’s amazing that the Academy can show this,” says Fine. “What’s great about making films in the Washington, D.C. area is that it’s the seat of power. This film focuses on a huge issue and Inocente really gives a face to an invisible population in this society. We feel connected to D.C. in that they can assist in doing something with this issue” added Nix about making films in the nation’s capital. Further resonating the directors’ social justice message was the fact that it was co-funded by a Kickstarter project. “Kickstarter galvanized the community and kept us going through the production process,” said Fine, while Nix added that the fundraising project, “is a huge ask and a hard ask that raises awareness.”
Julie Dartnell and Lisa Westcott said they were still overwhelmed, shaking” when the came backstage. Dartnell said that one of the most difficult thing about doing makeup and costumes for Les Miserables was that the songs were performed “in their entirety with about 8 cameras from start to finish. You can’t go in and rectify it. For that reason it was very important for us to make sure everything was spot on before the cameras turned.” Westcott, who joked that the pair planned to celebrate their win “with a song and dance,” said that she was happy to see makeup and hair combined into one category. “The hair and makeup thing in England is not such an unusual mix,” she said. “The very essence of the job is to create characters, you need all the tools in the box.” To separate the two, she said, would be “like walking around with one shoe.” Speaking of hair: Westcott added that Anne Hathaway’s decision to shave her head on camera was her own. Although she said it would have been easy to create the bald effect with a cap and bald wig, “it was clear that she wanted to do this thing, for her, her hair would grow back, it was no big deal.” Dartnell said, “it was a very emotional moment, and it really helped her performance.”
Winners Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn made a documentary about a mystery man, 1970s rocker Rodriguez in the film Searching For Sugar Man. So when they came backstage, they were asked to explain the mystery of why Rodriguez did not attend the Oscars. Director Bendjelloul said Rodriguez is far from invisible these days as he is touring South Africa and giving concerts to “50,000 people.” Chinn added that the musician “genuinely doesn’t want to take credit for the film. He regards it as Malik’s film. He is a genuinely humble man.” But don’t feel sorry for Rodriguez: Chinn added that Rodriguez currently has 3 albums on Billboard and is thinking about a new album.
The award for the dumbest backstage question thus far goes to the reporter who asked Paul N.J. Ottosson — a co-winner in sound editing for Zero Dark Thirty — why there was a tie. Apparently, it was because two contenders got the same number of votes. But Ottosson stayed classy. In fact, he said, he had mentioned just before his category what if there were a tie, as if it were a premonition. “Then we got up and got a tie,” he said. Asked what it was like to work with director Kathryn Bigelow, Ottosson said, “I love the movies she’s done in the past. She’s very different from most directors. She’s an extraordinary director and an extraordinary person, and I’m blessed to work with her.” One of the co-winners for Skyfall, Karen Baker Landers, remarked on the honor of being a woman and representing women in the sound editing industry, typically dominated by men. “I just hope I represent it well,” she said.
What was key for the Oscar-winning sound mixing team of Les Miserables was controlling the sound so that the authenticity of the actors’ onset singing voices and their emotions shined through on the big screen. Per director Tom Hooper’s mandate, there was to be no re-recording of the actors’ voices. “It was especially hard to record vocals on the set. There were so many noises to cut through such as the rain,” said Mark Paterson. “When a musical is sung through its entirety on film, it’s hard to go from song to song. When it came to introducing sound effects, we didn’t want to take you out of the musical’s feeling,” added co-winner Andy Nelson.
Everything that Oscar-winning editor William Goldenberg learned about his craft came from working in his father’s deli. “I had to do a million things at one time, from making breakfast for 75 people to taking beer orders on the phone. That prepares you for running an editing room.” Nonetheless, working with director Ben Affleck on Argo “was a dream. He leaves you inspired” said Goldenberg, while producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov are ideal producers “because they stay back, guide us when necessary and let us do our jobs.” Though Goldenberg was aware of the 1970s titles that inspired Affleck on Argo including Network, All the President’s Men, and Sunday Bloody Sunday, he left the decade’s look to the other craft departments on the production. “Once I got the footage, I just tried to tell a good story,” said Goldenberg.
Rick Carter began his backstage comments following his win for Best Production Design by thanking his collaborator, set decorator Jim Erickson, for Erickson’s part in creating the look of Lincoln. “He should be here,” Carter said. “We are the same age, we are like brothers, who share a common history together.” Carter contrasted his work on Lincoln, with its realistic set design and historical accuracy, to the digitally created fantasies he designed for such films as Avatar. While he said he loves the broad canvas of digital design, he described Lincoln as “from the soul, as close as we could get to that.” He said Lincoln provided him a chance to “come full circle” in returning to realistic filmmaking.