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: … (more…)

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