Over coffee this morning I’m thinking Oscars and not only because we’re planning to bring you live reports from the red carpet beginning at 5 p.m. ET Sunday. Our reporter Jeanne Wright will be out there in the madness, elbowing her way to the stars as they arrive. I have high expectations for this year’s show because the host is Hugh Jackman and new producers are taking it in a fresh direction, promising fewer clips, more stage production — perhaps even a song and dance from Jackman himself? "Fun and quicker," Jackman has said.
Like most of you, I love the Academy Awards because I love good movies. Like Jackman, I’ve been watching since I was a kid. That’s why I look forward every year to putting out a Who’s News annual Oscar report, which this year focuses on Jackman, reigning glamour couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Best Supporting Actor nominees Josh Brolin and the late Heath Ledger, and supporting actress nominee Penelope Cruz. During the award season we have been interviewing principals from many of the movies nominated. Click on read more below for some outtakes of those conversations that give us just a little insight into performance or personality, then come back Sunday for the fun.
Meryl Streep, who plays a nun in Doubt, is a favorite for best actress: “I was educated in a Presbyterian Sunday school until eighth grade, and then I was kicked out. Catholic school was a mysterious, attractive, seductive thing. The girls were much wilder there than at my school. They were hotter."
Viola Davis, a supporting actress nominee for Doubt: “I’ve gotten everything that I’ve gotten through hard work. So I’ve made the connection that the happily-ever-after comes after you’ve done work. It doesn’t come because you are entitled to it. It comes because you’ve worked for it.”
Robert Downey Jr., a supporting actor nominee for Tropic Thunder: “It never occurred to me after Chaplin (for which he got an Oscar nomination) that there was this 18-month window where I was supposed to plan the next thing, not smoke bowls and watch The History Channel. I tried to act like I didn’t care, plus I had a tendency to check out and anesthetize myself. A lot of things that happened were really humiliating and awful and unfair. I’d always felt like a pretty huge outsider. Now I realize I’ve earned my seat in this town, and it’s all right to sit in it.”
Kate Winslet, a best actress nominee for The Reader: “I can be totally crazy. And I have a filthy mouth on me sometimes. I left school at 16. People assume I’m classically trained, but I’m not. I’m much more eccentric."
Richard Jenkins, a best actor nominee for The Visitor: “You have to be careful about all of that (award nominations) because it doesn’t mean anything. Whatever happens, happens. I’ve been doing this long enough, I don’t let expectations run my life. One of the reasons I like being an actor is that I don’t like to know what I’m going to be doing six months from now. I never did.”
Danny Boyle, best director nominee for Slumdog Millionaire, had never been to India before shooting there. “You can’t turn a blind eye to how horrific some of the suffering and poverty is. Yet your overwhelming impression is that Mumbai is an extraordinarily warm and generous place.”
Melissa Leo, best actress nominee for Frozen River: “I was told by my unbelievably wise director to watch two John Wayne films, Rio Bravo and The Searchers … And five minutes into Rio Bravo I understood what she meant. There’s a grounded quality that John Wayne has. There is a believability in all circumstances that John Wayne brought to his roles. He feels it in his gut. So I hoped to channel some portion of The Duke into this role.”