Reporter at Large:  Backstage at the Globes
EmptyHelen Mirren won the best television actress award for her regal title role in "Elizabeth I," but backstage she was working blue, cracking jokes about what it means to be an Essex girl ("You know when an Essex girl has an orgasm, she drops her fries"). In fact, the joke carried on to her prospects for an Oscar. "I've never had an 'O.' They said the earth moves," she said. "I can't wait. I'll definitely drop my fries for that." While Mirren was playful in her first win, she was thankful for her second, best actress in a motion picture for "The Queen." "I've been here a few times and sat there at tables loaded with awards and did not have one myself. It's great to have it the other way around," she said. She also added how thankful she was for the recognition awarded her for "Elizabeth I," which she said was ignored by BAFTA. "For it to be recognized tonight, it means the world to me." And commenting on the slew of awards she's had over the years: "Now I'm not so scared anymore. At first you think it is an accident or a flash in the pan. And then the second time you think the same thing. And then the third and fourth time you start thinking that maybe I'm doing my job right. Maybe it's OK."
Clint Eastwood joked about his odd position of being an American winner in the foreign-language film category for "Letters From Iwo Jima." "Now that I'm a foreign director, I need to learn some foreign languages," he said. Later, he joked that his next film was going to be in Hungarian. But he also was put on the defensive when he asked how small foreign films can compete with a big U.S. studio movie. "Our budget on 'Letters' was not exactly overwhelming," he said. "We shot for 32 days, and I did it while I was waiting for postproduction to be prepared for 'Flags of Our Fathers.' ('Letters' is) a small picture by most standards." He also explained how he made the film using four translators and was able to communicate with star Ken Watanabe in English. He added that the Battle of Iwo Jima is not widely known in Japan. "None of my actors had ever heard of this. Even Ken Watanabe, who is in his 40s, had to research it," Eastwood said. "But I've been getting comments from Japan ? saying it's good closure for them."
"Dreamgirls" producer Laurence Mark wants to see Hollywood raise its voice in song. "We don't have many musicals these days. I hope this will revive something," he said after taking the Globe for best film ? comedy or musical. "And by the way ? Jennifer Lopez, I'd be happy to make a musical with her." But it will be hard to top the lineup Mark assembled for "Dreamgirls." "I really don't believe in the past 25 years there has been a better cast," he said. Jamie Foxx, who won a Globe two years ago for his turn in "Ray," said that this time around he was happy to celebrate the wins for his "Dreamgirls" co-stars Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson. "I'm going to say this: I had a great time when it was my time, but it is their time now," Foxx said. "And it is so great to be able to see them doing their thing."
Some of those mystified by "Babel" had a chance to ask director-producer Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu what exactly his movie was about. "The inter-connectivity of life? The randomness of life? The pain of life? You open a newspaper and you find good news and bad news. Life is like that," said Innaritu, who stood with fellow producers Steve Golin and Jon Kilik. "It's a mosaic of emotions, and these characters are joined spiritually by pain. That is how life works every day, and that is the complexity of the film." As for the movie's place in the awards standings, Innaritu said that was unimportant. "The film will stay and endure for several years in time, and that is the most important thing."
Meryl Streep had no idea that she talked for four minutes upon accepting her award for best performance by an actress in a motion picture ? musical or comedy. "I hate people that do that," Streep said. "I'm sorry. I thought I was speaking so rapidly." Streep gives credit for her fabulous roles to the rising female executives at the studios who are receiving greenlight authority. In fact, Streep encouraged female reporters to line up at the boxoffice if they want to see more movies like "Prada." "Demand drives market, and if everyone does that, it will change things," she said. "Unless women do that, they'll be making films for a certain market, those on date night, and it limits the market." When asked about her future role as Mamma in the screen adaptation of the ABBA musical "Mamma Mia!" Streep said she's more afraid of the physicality of the role, rather than the voice training. "There is a lot of dancing," she groaned.
After taking home yet another top actor prize for his uncanny incarnation of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, Forest Whitaker summed up the secret of his recent successes on the big and small screens. "With the right script and right character, I am going to do my best work," he said. "I really feel I have been able to do my best work in the last couple of years. I am proud of it." Once Whitaker landed the role of a lifetime as Amin, he delved into the historical figure and let the character envelope him. "He was very charismatic, very funny," said Whitaker, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for the 1989 drama "Bird." "That's how he was able to rise to power."
Sacha Baron Cohen confirmed what we all knew: The most unpleasant moment in "Borat" was clearly the naked scene with his producer pal Ken Davitian. "I told (director) Larry Charles that if I ran out of air, I would tap on the bed three times. If you see the movie I'm tapping on the bed, but Larry was so engrossed that I was dying beneath Ken's anus." In commenting on Borat's ridiculous prejudices, Baron Cohen said, "All his beliefs seem laughable: misogynistic, anti-Semitism and homophobia. He believes that Jews are not only good with money but that they can change their shapes into insects. It shows his prejudices are absurd and delusional."
Best supporting actress winner Jennifer Hudson said she's not a party girl and was planning to celebrate as quietly as she will be allowed. But the first thing she was going to do was call her mom in Chicago. "Mom is always first," she said. In her acceptance speech onstage, Hudson referred to Florence Ballard, the ousted Supremes singer. "Effie was created as Florence's voice," Hudson said. "I felt it was my job to deliver on my end." The win bolsters Hudson's plans to continue her nascent acting career. "Last year at this time, I wasn't sure I was an actress, but this now gives me the confidence to continue," she said.
Despite his win for supporting actor in a film for the musical "Dreamgirls," Eddie Murphy promised not to revive his recording career anytime soon. "There won't be a 'Party All the Time 2,' " Murphy joked about the smash single from his ill-fated 1985 album, "How Could It Be." "Ninety-nine percent of me is comedy, and 1 percent is musical." Still, Murphy nailed his role playing against type as a tragic fading singer who loses his place atop the charts. And like Motown, the actor insists that Hollywood also can be unkind ? especially to aging actresses. "Actors get to go much longer," he said. "Look at Sean Connery; he's still an action star. But I'm a minority, too. It's tough on black folks in this town as well."
As Warren Beatty was being asked backstage to pontificate on his sordid past, his successful marriage and his views on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Borat" star Sacha Baron Cohen won the award for best comedy actor, which was shown on screens on the side of the stage. That led to Beatty being asked about his thoughts on the movie. "I think it's a very political film. I think it requires, to really understand it, a really sophisticated viewer," he said. "The film also plays to the unsophisticated. At the root of the joke, Freud said, was hostility or anger. And that anger is disguised by wit. And this is a very witty movie with a lot of anger underneath that I think is beautifully done."
The dog-eared speech Kyra Sedgwick had prepared for the past three award shows that she didn't win was left in her hotel room. Maybe it was good luck. The actress won for her role as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, beating out her role model and fellow TV drama nominee Edie Falco. And why does she think audiences have connected so well with "The Closer" on TNT? "I hope and I believe that people love the character because she is so flawed and such a mess in her personal life, yet so brilliant in her job," Sedgwick said.
Yes, he plays an American doctor and Vicodin addict on TV. But Hugh Laurie, who won his second Golden Globe for his work on Fox's "House," says he doesn't give out medical advice and has tried Vicodin only once. The actor, who regains his British accent as soon as he leaves the studio lot and is a popular comedian across the pond, feels blessed for his success with "House." And while he has to leave his wife and children in London while he plays the role of Dr. Gregory House, Laurie says it's nothing compared to nuclear sailors who board a ship and have no contact with their families. Laurie went into a long discussion of the sailors who must sign a waiver asking if they want to know if a family member is injured or killed while they are on duty. They are, of course, not allowed off the ship if that happens, so most don't sign the waiver. "In contrast, we're very lucky," Laurie said.
Meryl Streep wasn't the only actor recognized for playing a despotic boss. Alec Baldwin took home a statuette for his turn as the lovably fascist network president and Tina Fey's superior in "30 Rock." And being the boss has its perks. Baldwin's character cavorts with worldly women like New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, albeit off-camera. "A guy who is running off to jump on a jet to have sex with Condoleezza Rice ? is a new experience for me," the notoriously liberal actor said. "Plumbing the depths of that character to find out what he is about has been thrilling." Still, Baldwin has another TV project he would love to tackle. "My dream goal would be to re-create 'Little House on the Prairie' and play the Michael Landon guy," he joked. "I hope you will enjoy that show."
Bill Nighy, who won for actor in a miniseries or a motion picture made for television for playing Emily Blunt's father in "Gideon's Daughter," had nothing but praise for his co-star and fellow winner. Well, almost nothing. "It's only after shooting that she realized that I wasn't the Science Guy," he joked, referring to former PBS host Bill Nye the Science Guy, for whom he often is mistaken. Blunt, who was about to leave the backstage press room, heard Nighy talking about her and stopped to listen. It was right then that Nighy started to compliment Blunt's acting abilities. "The work that we did together was the most satisfying I've ever done," he said. Blunt sighed and teared up ? just a little ? moved by his words.
Clearly the most dramatic moment backstage with the cast and crew of "Grey's Anatomy" was when a question was asked regarding the widely publicized on-set fight between Isaiah Washington (Preston Burke) and Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd). Washington blurted out, "No, I did not call T.R. (Knight, who plays George O'Malley) a faggot. It never happened." The crowd gasped, and the rest of the press briefing was spent watching Sandra Oh trying to keep Knight from bolting the platform as he clearly was miffed by the comment. Creator Shonda Rhimes did say she didn't rule her set with an iron fist but with a diamond one. And it was particularly poignant for her to win on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, a fact she didn't realize until she was walking onstage to receive her award.
For America Ferrera, winning her first Golden Globe for her title role in "Ugly Betty" was a dream come true. "To be able to get up on that stage and be welcomed by that community was wonderful," she said. But the award for her character and the show was much greater then the sum of its parts. "This is the culmination of so many things," Ferrera said. "What I love most about being recognized is that we set out to tell a story and to change what TV looks like. To see that we've succeeded and changed the way we look at ourselves and the way we look at other people is gratifying. It's what's most important." Salma Hayek, executive producer of "Ugly Betty," added that she thought this concept ? which is so popular in many Latin American countries ? would work because it's a fish-out-of-water story. However, "I thought it was needed in the U.S.," she said. "This is a culture completely obsessed with perception of an image. I wanted to make it fun, but I wanted to talk about the issues that mattered."
Emily Blunt lost to Jennifer Hudson in the best supporting actress in a film category, but she didn't go home empty-handed. "I don't even have the thing. It's back at the table," she said backstage about the statue she won for "Gideon's Daughter." Moments later, Blunt was reunited with her prize for best supporting actress in a TV series, miniseries or motion picture, which she said came as a shock. And though the British actress said she was surprised by her win for "Daughter," she reckoned that she had a better chance in the TV category than the film one. "(Hudson) just tore up the screen. I knew I wasn't going to win," she said. "(After seeing 'Dreamgirls'), my friend was like, 'Good luck with that next Monday.' "
For Jeremy Irons, who nabbed the award for supporting actor in a TV movie for his turn in HBO's "Elizabeth I," television no longer carries any stigma. "Ten to 15 years ago, TV was a step down for me," he said. But with quality films produced by networks like HBO, the veteran film actor finds that broadcast fare often trumps its cinematic counterpart. "The intellectual content (in TV movies like 'Elizabeth I') is hard to find in some films," he said. But regardless of the size of the screen, Irons keeps returning to period and fantasy projects. "Lately it's been fantasy, Crusades or Shakespeare. Maybe it's the beard," he said. "Maybe I should cut the beard off."
If you needed a reason why it took so long for the Golden Globes to honor animated films, you had to look no further than backstage to see why: Many have no idea what that part of their industry is about. "Cars" director-screenwriter John Lasseter had to endure questions like, "Who are you?" ("John Lasseter." A figurative tumbleweed blew by.) And "What do you do?" ("Animated film." Another one blew by.) And one woman insisted that "Cars" was the last movie that was being distributed by the Walt Disney Co. Lasseter very patiently explained to her that Pixar joined Disney and that they were planning to make many movies together. Lasseter later found his groove, expounding his love of animation and how 2006 had been a banner year for animated films. And he said that while this is a fantastic award, he doesn't make movies for the acclaim. "To see a little boy carrying a Lightning McQueen doll, to see them carrying something that I created ? that to me is why I do what I do. It's very special." And look out, actors. When Lasseter is talking to you on the Golden Globes red carpet or at a party, he just might be looking for voice talent. In fact, that's how he met Tony Shalhoub, who ended up playing Luigi in "Cars." "I've been known to talk to a few actors on the red carpet," he said slyly.
Peter Morgan, who won the award for motion picture screenplay for "The Queen," left cryptic comments in his wake or none at all. When asked if he had heard comments about the film from either Buckingham Palace or 10 Downing Street, he couldn't give an definitive answer. He also wouldn't give his opinion on Prince Charles as king. When he did say that he hoped that people in England would talk about the possibility of a republic, he was asked if he thought the royal family should be abolished. "That's not what I said," he answered quickly and firmly. Morgan left the room on a political note, saying history has proved that it takes many people to effect change because leaders are slow to see the realities. "All leaders are in the survival business, and they should know that it's more precarious than that," he said.
Alexandre Desplat, winner of best original score for "The Painted Veil," said he composed the music based on the actors' pacing and energy. "It was very inspiring because the drama, the tragedy, the love story, the pain ? all these things were there," Desplat said. "I could be both restrained, which I like to do in my soundtracks, and not. So it was the perfect movie for me."
Compiled by Borys Kit, Tatiana Siegel and Nicole Sperling