THR's Actress Roundtable: 7 Stars on Nightmare Directors, Brutal Auditions and Fights With Paparazzi

 Joe Pugliese

Naomi Watts on years of rejection, Sally Field on fighting to play opposite a man 11 years younger and what it feels like to be told you don’t have a "shelf life."

THR: Anne, how was your experience hosting the Oscars?

Hathaway: Oh, scars.

Hunt: You were great!

Hathaway: Thanks. I went into it with a lot of trust and a lot of hope, and I had a blast doing it. And I realized afterwards, I played to the house; it's a 3,500-seat theater, so I was just shooting energy to the back of it and it was like a party! It was great! And I think it looked slightly manic and "hyper-cheerleadery" onscreen. But I have no regrets about doing it.

THR: Did you watch a tape of the show?

Hathaway: Oh God, no! Whether or not it was an actual failure, it was perceived as a massive failure. [To Amy] By this wonderful media that buys pictures of your daughter! I've stopped talking to the paparazzi because there's no point.

Hunt: When Hillary Clinton was running for president, they were asking Obama about foreign policy and they were asking her, "How do you stay healthy on the road?"

Weisz: Going on with your Hillary Clinton thing, when you do actor roundtables, does age come up as an issue?

Field: Would you ask them about nudity?

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THR: We've never asked about nudity. But we ask the same questions of the men, except: Do you think Hollywood is tougher for women?

Adams: I think women's concerns are different. Our priorities sometimes are different. And there is a reality: You're told constantly that you have a "shelf life," and I don't know that men are told that by the media, by other actors and other actresses, you're just told that.

Field: I'm almost 66 and I have a lot of awards, but I fought like holy hell to get Lincoln. Steven [Spielberg] had asked me to do it a long time ago, like in 2005. By the time it was going to be made, the original person [Liam Neeson] had dropped out and Daniel Day-Lewis came on board, and from the time that he first asked me, a little voice inside me said, "You'll never do it, Field. You'll never do it." And I have a problem with that little voice, because that little voice sometimes becomes my self-fulfilling prophecy. A lot of my life and career has been about huge compromise, about selling out. I had no choice: I had children to raise, there are my priorities. And I also know that I'm 10 years older than Daniel and 20 older than Mary Todd Lincoln, and I thought, "This is going to be a problem." And Steven said, "Yes, I don't see you with Daniel. Sorry." But I said, "Steven, test me! I'm not walking away!" And Daniel out of the graciousness of his heart flew in from Ireland and we did some bizarre improv; but I became Mary and he became Mr. Lincoln for about an hour! When I got home the phone was ringing, and Steven and Daniel were on the phone saying, "Will you be Mary?" (Applause.)

Weisz: It's interesting: I often get told, "Don't go and read." And last year I read the prequel to The Wizard of Oz, and this one character is really evil, the Wicked Witch of the East, and I thought, "I really love this role," and no one wanted me and [director] Sam Raimi didn't want me and I said, "I want to go and audition. That's my job. I'm an actor." It was one meeting, we sat and talked for a couple of hours, and he asked me a lot of interesting questions about my parents and my childhood. And the casting director read them with me and Sam kind of operated the camera.

Hathaway: Do you feel more confident if you've auditioned and gotten a role going into it?

Adams: Yes.

Hathaway: I do too.

Hunt: Well, otherwise the first day of shooting is the audition.

Watts: Oh, it's horrible! I have such bad memories of auditioning that I just get clammy. I mean, I did 10 years of driving around Los Angeles just to get two bits of paper to go and line up for two hours the next day -- they couldn't even fax you those pages. I have such haunting memories of auditioning and have literally been in a room where a director has been sleeping -- a very fancy director.

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THR: Feel free to say who --

Watts: No, no, I won't. Although it's --

Hathaway: Tempting?

Watts: I'm partly English and partly Australian, and I'm not good when I have to prove myself. I'm really not.

Weisz: I'm sure you can do anything! You went from there to here.

Watts: Well, I can't apparently do comedy.

Cotillard: I fought for a project and I fought for the director and then I spent two months in the middle of the desert wanting to kill him and wanting to beat myself because I fought for him and he was so bad. He had no idea what we were doing, he had no idea what he wanted to do. I wanted to choke everybody in the desert. Then I realized that if I don't trust the director, if I don't like him, I'm going to be bad. I got my French version of the Razzie nomination [for worst performance] and I really wanted to have it! I didn't want to be mean, but I had my acceptance speech: "Without this director, none of this would have been possible!"

THR: Is there any one role that you would love to play?

Hathaway: I want to play Catherine the Great. I'm reading a biography on her life right now, and it's such a great story. It involves sex and the denial of sex, and she was so brilliant and there's just so much vastness. I'd love a crack at it.

Hunt: I have this Lady Macbeth fantasy.

Field: We were in a Shakespeare class together!

Hunt: We were!

Watts: I would just like to do a comedy at some point before I die.

Field: You know what? Honestly, truly, it really is hard even in literature to find older women, because if there is an older woman in a great piece of literature, usually she's very much in the background.

Cotillard: I would like to play a monster, like Gollum or something totally that you have to create almost everything.

Weisz: I tried for years to develop a true story about this woman named Julia Butterfly Hill, an activist who lived up a Redwood tree in Sonoma County for two years and four days, on a platform. She was trying to stop the trees from being knocked down. I spent a lot of time with her and I visited the tree, and I found it really moving. And it was an impossible movie to get made. It was hard enough to make a female-driven drama, but they were like, "She's just up a tree!"

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Adams: I would really love to produce stuff for other actresses. Everyone talks about producing stuff for yourself, but I'd actually love to do it for other actresses.

Hathaway: [To Field] You don't know this, but I tried to write a movie for you, about a spy. And I thought Sally would be amazing, because who would ever think she was a spy? I think women are starting to take more care of each other. I feel like we're moving into a place in the world where we're going to be able to apply it. At least that's my hope.

Weisz: Maybe we can do the female version of The Hangover -- all of us on a 24-hour bender.

Hunt: I'm ready to do that, even if we don't film it!

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