Spirit Awards 2015: Winners' Reactions

Patricia Arquette

See what Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, JK Simmons and more had to say backstage.

Here's what those who took home a trophy at the Spirit Awards on Saturday afternoon had to say backstage about their wins:

Michael Keaton, winner of best male lead, for Birdman:
“He knew from the get-go what he wanted to do, and then we just tried to pull it off and we did. I’m a human being so [the character] was very relatable. There’s no way you can make this movie with out [the long process]. He had warned me, and I said, ‘Yeah, I know. I get it.’ I had no idea how precise we had to be and how difficult it was going to be, but there’s no other way to do it. We’re acting like [the awards process] is so grueling, but I’ll be in the fetal position balling for about three months. What I’m looking forward to next is actually getting a check [laughs].”

Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of Birdman, winner of best feature:
"Honestly, there is no one word in English that could translate what I was feeling with my actors. I couldn’t find a way to say how great they were doing. I had to just say, 'Cabrones,' only cabrones and cabrón."

Julianne Moore, winner of best lead female, for Still Alice:
“It was an amazing experience working on this movie. The Alzheimer’s community was generous with their time and their information. I learned a lot, and the people who are living with this disease are amazing. It’s a long process, so we wanted to make a movie that was about living from something, not about dying from it. For people to go out of their way to go acknowledge a performance, it’s a big deal. Often these awards are from the people that you work with, so it means a tremendous amount. [The Oscars are] tomorrow? [laughs] It’s very exciting obviously. I’m very excited to be included. I’ve just been lucky with what’s come my way. I’m blown away by my good fortunate. We have very little control, the only control is whether we say yes or no, but we can’t control what comes to us, so I just feel very lucky.”

Patricia Arquette, winner of best supporting female, for Boyhood:
“I knew enough about the business to know that it is so hard to get financing for a small movie, and that legally you can’t have a contract so anyone could have left. I knew the likelihood of getting financing was slim to none. So that was what blew my mind. I wanted to be apart of it. I knew no one had ever done it in scripted film before. To do something new in film at this moment in film in so rare. And the way he talked about the movie, the experience of normal human beings. These are not often people we often make moves about, but they’re people we know in our lives and this idea that life is short and life is beautiful and the world around us is changing is so exciting to me as an artist to be a part of that because it moves me a lot as a human being.”

J.K. Simmons, winner of best supporting male, for Whiplash:
“I recognized that [the movie] was great and it was also a good fit, so it was the ideal combination that I was always looking for. I don’t know that it’s really affected the kinds of parts as much as it’s affected the volume. There have been a lot of intriguing things coming along, both little indies and studio movies, too. I’m trying to find the balance between finding the right opportunities in both. Having a musical background was huge for both Miles [Teller] and myself — and Damien [Chazelle] has a musical background as well — so that was a big part of what we all brought to the movie. I just tired to do what Damien wrote because it was so, so clear and concise and thorough and mature. All 42 of us just felt we had to lift it off the page to our best abilities. Right now there’s an embarrassingly large collection of [trophies] sitting on top of a mini-fridge in our bathroom, can’t lie.”

Bennett Miller, director of Foxcatcher, winner of the special distinction award:
"I don’t know what I’m doing here. I would say that this was a very opened ended, improvisational, collaborative exploration with the lines changing as we were coloring. [When this is all over,] I’m going to miss questions from people who – I don’t think it will ever go away — but the questions from people who the movie lingers with. I like interacting with people who were affected by the film and with whom the film sticks."

Dan Gilroy, writer of Nightcrawler, winner of best screenplay:
“I became intrigued with the idea of an antihero, and I had never written one before. They’re not that common, and somehow an antihero seemed to plug into the film thematically. Jake was right at the top of the list. He was shooting Prisoners, and he flew to Atlanta and I had an epic five-hour dinner with him. We bonded creatively and as friends. He was just my creative collaborator on the project. I can’t speak highly enough of his performance. And it was the most fun I’ve ever had writing. I often found myself laughing because there was an absurdity in terms of what he believed the situation was and what reality was. It was liberating, to be honest.”

Laura Poitras, director of Citizenfour, winner of best documentary film:
"We prepared for a lot of bad case scenarios. We didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about good case scenarios. It’s incredible. There were sometimes when Glenn and I were debating whether or not when and if we’d be coming back to the U.S. The state [of surveillance today] is dire. Not only is there mass indiscriminate surveillance, it’s happening on a global level, but our governments are also not telling us what is happening, so it is a dire situation. There is some good news: we do see tech companies using more encryption, and we see individuals taking things into their own hands… The reporting is ongoing, [but] I have no intentions to make a follow-up film to this."

Justin Simien, winner of best screenplay, for Dear White People:
“It’s always a balance between putting your vision forth but being open to everyone you’re collaborating with so there’s something better than the sum of its parts that comes through. I was looking to be surprised. I was looking for being who embodied the characters that I wrote but also surprised me, and all of them surprised me and brought something to the roles in the audition process that I didn’t even know was there. [Race relations are] incrementally better but not terribly different. I think we still got a long way to go but I think my movie and Selma other movies like it trying to push these new ideas and stories and ways of seeing ourself in the culture, I think it helps.”

Pawel Pawlikowski, director of Ida, winner for best international film:
"It was designed to be in black and white. You write differently for black and white. It was a very spare film with spare shots, but what it meant that it had very few elements in a shot. We had to test to the costumes, make them black but not too black so it didn’t burn black The white were not exactly white. We tested the tones before filming… We actually shot it on digital… It’s not enough to just switch off the color after you shoot the film, you have to really design it for maximum impact It was difficult to raise the money and the actors are unknown, so this recognition elevates the whole thing. We know that these little miracles happen and they keep us going, and they encourage others to take risks.This film was a huge risk. It made no commercial sense whatsoever."

Tom Collins, winner of best editor, for Whiplash:
“It’s a huge honor and when I saw the list of my fellow nominees, I was really humbled and honored because I’m a big fan of all those other films. The biggest challenge is that it was a race against the clock. I had a very short time to work on the movie before we had to submit it to Sundance. The same amount of time we had to edit the short film was the same amount of time we had for the feature. [The trophy] looks like it has some sharp edges, so I’ll put it somewhere when my 5 year-old and my 11 month-old won’t be able to get to it.”

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