THR's Actress Roundtable: Six A-Listers Sound Off on Bad Reviews, Nudity and Playing Hitler

Mary Rozzi

In the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine, Charlize Theron, Michelle Williams, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Glenn Close and Carey Mulligan kick off THR's annual awards season series with an exclusive discussion on their regrets, the mean things people say to them and why Davis hates it when a black actress' performance is called "dignified."

The Hollywood Reporter kicks off its annual Oscar roundtable series with a first: Two actresses from the same film -- The Help's Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer -- were among the six A-listers who sat down for a wide-ranging discussion that touched on topics ranging from bad reviews to nudity.

Joining the duo -- who play maids who participate in a tell-all book that shakes up life in 1960s Jackson, Miss. -- were four other awards contenders: Glenn Close, who's turning heads for her gender-bending title role in Albert Nobbs; Michelle Williams, who gave her spin on a screen legend in My Week With MarilynCarey Mulligan, who brought to life a lounge singer with suicidal tendencies in Shame; and Charlize Theron, who conquers an evil character again in Young Adult.

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The six actresses gathered Oct. 24 at Smashbox Studios in West Hollywood -- along with THR news director Matthew Belloni and executive editor, features, Stephen Galloway -- to discuss their biggest regrets, the mean things people say to them ("You look much better in real life" is one, says Close) and watching their own performances. And in Theron's case, she even tells Close that she learned about "the birds and the bees" from watching Fatal Attraction as a child.

Here are some excerpts from the discussion; read more here and in the Nov. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

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The Hollywood ReporterHave you done roles that you were disappointed by afterward?

Octavia Spencer: I never watch my work, so I can't say that I'm disappointed.

THR: You haven't seen The Help?

Spencer: I sort of had to. [Davis and I] saw it together.

THR: Did you like it?

Spencer: I did like The Help. I was really scared that I would just hate everything. When you watch yourself, it really does take you out of the purity of that world that you create. I'm thinking? "Really? Does my stomach look like a smiley face? Really? You went with that take? Ugh, there was one that was better."

Michelle Williams: I haven't seen everything I've done.

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Glenn Close: Fatal Attraction seems to be on all the time.

Charlize Theron: You know, that's how I learned about the birds and the bees.

Close: What?

Theron: I grew up in a farm community town [in South Africa], and we didn't have movie theaters. My mom loved movies, and every Friday she would drive us out to a drive-in 45 minutes away from our farm. But we didn't know what would play. When the cars started lining up, you would see what was playing and you would see the rating, and my mom would hide me under a blanket if the rating was R. So I was about 8 or 9, and it was Fatal Attraction, and my mom was sitting in the car, and I could feel the panic. And this conversation started, and it ended up being my sex conversation. It screwed me up, so I can't have a healthy relationship. (Laughs.)

Close: Oh, that's great.

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