Gotham Awards: The Winners' Reactions

6:05 PM 11/30/2015

by Ashley Lee

Todd Haynes, Steve Golin, Robert Redford and Helen Mirren received career tributes at the Monday night ceremony in New York City.

Helen Mirren Gotham Awards - H 2015
Getty Images

Helen Mirren Gotham Awards - H 2015

The 25th Gotham Awards included career tributes to Todd Haynes, Steve Golin, Robert Redford and Helen Mirren, and top honors for Spotlight, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Love and Mercy, Tangerine and more noted indie films. And this year, for the first time, the Gotham Awards handed out two awards for breakthrough TV and web series.

After collecting their rectangular statues, the winners headed to the backstage area of Cipriani Wall Street in New York City to speak with the press.

  • 'Spotlight'

    Brian d’Arcy James told THR that he and the cast were shocked to be receiving the ensemble award for the film, which also won best feature. “For me personally, it’s like winning the lotto, because I’m with these extraordinary people and the fact that the film is getting such recognition,” he said of acting alongside Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci. “And to actually get [notice of the ensemble award] before the ceremony begins -- it certainly makes the evening a lot easier to participate, and you can actually listen to people and enjoy yourself!”

    The key to Tom McCarthy’s strategically assembled ensemble? “I think we all feel a real deep need to represent these people accurately and faithfully, and maybe in a way that gives people a chance to watch and learn from these experts. We all felt humbled by the fact that they were so open with us to tell their stories in this way, that put us all immediately on the same page.”

  • Bel Powley

    “This is so heavy!” said Powley of the Gotham trophy she’d just won for starring in Marielle Heller’s coming-of-age drama. “All that’s important to me is, what will women think of this film? It’s been a genuine thing for me that women, from fifteen to fifty years old to even older, have all had the same reaction: this is how they felt when they were a young woman, and they appreciate that someone has finally made a film about what it really feels like to be a teenage girl. I feel like that too – it’s such an honest portrayal and I just want to show it to all women.” Still, she didn’t expect to win: “I was four vodkas down!”

  • Paul Dano

    “It was the best – it was the most fun research I could ask for, a good six-plus months listening and learning to play and sing. I miss it,” said Dano of preparing to portray Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in Bill Polhad’s biopic. “How somebody who has experienced so much struggle could still create such beautiful music and also have such a generous spirit in the face of adversity -- that was very beautiful to me.” Altogether, he told THR, “I’m still most excited that I got to play such a beautiful part.”

  • Todd Haynes

    Looking back on his own career, “every [project] is a challenge, almost like you haven’t done it before. That’s partly because of trying to do things I feel I hadn’t done before,” the director explained to THR. “In the case of Carol, the great love story was something I felt I hadn’t approached -- a challenge in it of itself.” Today, he still holds onto one piece of early career advice: “Have faith in audiences – that they’re smarter, more able, more interested and more ready to take things on than we often give them credit for.”

  • Helen Mirren

    The Woman in Gold star was incredibly nervous when she took the stage to accept her career tribute, she told reporters, but felt the moment was an opportunity to discuss censorship. “I think what we have to be is conscious of other parts of the world where there is no freedom of speech, where people who are incredibly brave journalists, writers, poets on all levels are incarcerated or tortured,” she explained. “The story that I spoke of, Palestinian poet [Ashraf Fayadh], a wonderful poet who has been sentenced to death, to execution, to be beheaded for writing poetry that is not considered to be on the line as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned. I feel the written poetry and poetry and literature is just one of the most beautiful things that human beings do, and we have to fight for it wherever it occurs. Words can be used for venal reasons as well, as we saw when words are an incredible source of propaganda and can cause terrible havoc. Certain kinds of speech probably should be censored – hate speech, obviously. But in this particular case, this is a really serious, thoughtful, gentle poet.”

  • 'Mr. Robot'

    "We're so excited!" said Steve Golin alongside Christian Slater and Rami Malek for the USA series' win in the new Gotham Awards category. "We knew we had a great show from the beginning, when Sam [Esmail] first came with the script. But you never know how an audience is going to react, so it's been very satisfying." As they're currently penning their second season before production begins in March, Golin continued, "I just like the idea that the show is so subversive. Coming from the '70s, and Sam coming in with new subversive view about things, it's very similar. And the timing was really great. It's been an amazing ride."

  • Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer

    McCarthy was beaming to be taking home the screenplay honor for the fact-based ensemble drama, following Boston Globe reporters trying to expose a cover-up of sexually-abusive priests. “It was a lot of information and a very complex story, with all the players involved and the sensitivity of the subject matter, but all these things that we thought were obstacles turned out to be aspects,” the co-writer and director told THR, alongside Singer. “We just felt gratified to have the opportunity to tell this story. It’s so exciting, and I think our collaboration specifically was really joyful in a way, for material that’s so dark!”

  • ‘Tangerine’

    "I didn’t even thank the audience because I didn’t even know we were up for it!” said director Sean S. Baker of winning the award for the film that centers on two black, transgender prostitutes working the blocks around Santa Monica and Highland. "The fact that it’s connecting with the audience means everything in the world to us, because we had no idea. I’m not joking, quite honestly, I thought it was going to be 50/50, a love-hate thing. And it turned out to be more of a love thing, which is nice.” When did they know the iPhone-shot film was going to take off with viewers? “Sundance – that first screening, that’s when we knew."

  • 'Shugs and Fats'

    After giving a hilarious acceptance speech that including wanting to “beat Donald Trump” with the trophy, the two comediennes, who star as Hijabis in Brooklyn in the web series, noted that their speech was entirely unplanned, especially as she and the other nominees were the only ones cheering for their new awards category. Yet they told attendees they wouldn't be thanking their parents. “People usually thank their families, but we’ve had to try very hard to run away from our families so we could be here today,” said Nadia Manzoor, alongside Radhika Vaz. “We just want to thank America! We wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing today if it wasn’t for America, frankly.”

  • Jonas Carpignano

    “We just made a film about what we thought was a small situation – what’s happening in southern Italy – and now, it’s resonating all over the world, even in America. That’s pretty surreal,” said Carpignano upon winning the directing honor. “I think the thing that resonates the most when people see the film is that they feel they’ve gone past the headlines of the story. That’s what we always wanted – when they feel close to someone they’re just reading about every day, we know we did our job right.”

  • 'Spotlight'

    “This is my first time winning anything, so I’m pretty excited,” producer Michael Sugar told THR. “Like all independent storytellers, you’re trying to get to some form of truth, somehow. That’s what we tried, over many, many years, to get the story right. And everyone wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves. Nobody made any money, but we all wanted to tell the story, and that created an environment that was all about the work.” As the last award of the night, they’re off to celebrate. “We’re gonna have some drinks somewhere – and we’ve already had a few!”