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After they took the stage to receive their Oscars and gushed their happy thanks onstage, the winners of the 87th Academy Awards spoke to the press backstage.
Here’s what Sunday’s winners had to say:
“I believe in hard work. And I like stories about real people and real relationships and real families, and that’s what I respond to. This movie had all those things in it,” said Moore of Still Alice. She was asked about how her husband had supported her and told reporters a story she had not shared before. “He was the first person to see the movie. He went to watch it with me. When we walked out of there, he said, ‘You’re going to win an Oscar.’ I couldn’t believe he said that.” Moore was also asked how there could be more adult dramas like hers that are made into successful films. “I think whenever there’s success with a movie like this, then I think people think about them more. I don’t know, because Hollywood is still a business, so I think people need to buy tickets.”
Redmayne plans to email Stephen Hawking and his family tonight to thank them for his win. “They have been so kind to us throughout this process,” said the actor backstage of playing the physicist in his first Oscar-winning role. “Our responsibility to tell their story truthfully and authentically — we felt it,” he continued. He said he felt “extraordinary euphoria” when he heard his name read, in part because he’d worked with presenter Cate Blanchett in one of his first films, Elizabeth: The Golden Age. “I was recovering from that excitement of just seeing her, and then I was trying to bury this frenzy of nerves,” he said. He described his process for The Theory of Everything, which included speaking with sufferers of ALS and working with a dancer to master Hawking’s posture. “I wanted the physicality to be so embedded in me that the film could be about the emotional story,” he said. He’ll fly back to set tomorrow to shoot his current film, The Danish Girl. He anticipates the win feeling like “a wild, weird dream. I’ll wake up in a few days and be like, ‘Wow, did that happen?’ ” But the actor said he’s “always had to fight for jobs.” As for what’s next: “Just retaining employment will keep me very happy,” he said.
Many of the questions from reporters backstage for the Birdman director were in Spanish, prompting the helmer to joke: “It’s so good; it feels like Mexico. I haven’t had to speak in English,” he said. When asked about why he made Birdman the way he did, Inarritu said, “I haven’t figured out why I did what I did in this film, why I took these chances. I think fear is the condom of life. It doesn’t allow you to enjoy things. I did it without fear, and this is the result. It was making love for sure.” Inarritu asked the press to note one special person he didn’t have time to thank onstage. “My mom is part of this journey. She is very old, and I would like her to know that.”
Inarritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, producers of best picture winner Birdman:
Inarritu was asked about his choice to shoot at the film as if it seemed like one take. “When you present a film with a strong formal approach, you will have obviously strong reactions. People have been reacting against it, or they accept it passionately,” he said. “My only intention was not to flash or impress anybody. I thought the subtly of the way we did it, maybe I failed. For me, the intention was that nobody notices it. I wanted people to get caught in the emotional journey of this guy three days before opening his show. I thought that without cuts, I will not distract people. … I always wanted this to be a storytelling device.” Inarritu said that the one part of awards season he doesn’t like is the competition of it. “The society today and kids are so obsessed with competition because in order for them to feel good, they have to beat someone else. I would say that the worst part of this is that someone has to feel defeated,” he said. The Birdman helmer, joined onstage by producers Lesher and Skotchdopole, revealed that he found making Birdman “particularly scary.” He said, “I couldn’t tell until the end what it would be — I really thought it was really special, for me. … I never thought this film would be touching so many people.”
Patricia Arquette, best supporting actress winner for Boyhood:
“Richard Linklater wanted to make a movie about everyday people, people who we don’t usually see in the movies,” said the actress. She was asked about her acceptance speech in which she spoke about the need for equal pay for women. “Equal means equal. The truth of it is the older an actress gets, the less money she makes,” she said. “It’s inexcusable that we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and yet … we don’t have equal right for women in America. It’s time for all the women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve fought for to fight for us now.” Arquette said she skipped getting a manicure for the “damn mani-cam,” and her dress was designed by one of her best friends. She instead focused her attention on her philanthropic work. “I never saw this moment of me winning an Academy Award. I never thought I’d even be nominated, and I was fine with that,” she explained. “But you know what I did see? That I would help people, and I have helped thousands of people, and I will help millions of people.” When asked if she saw Meryl Streep‘s response to her speech, she said she didn’t but that she hugged Streep after she left the stage. “She’s the queen of all actresses, the patron saint of all actresses,” she said.
“Maybe more people saw me tonight than see me in the commercials, actually, for the first time. This is the cherry on top of this extraordinary experience that Whiplash has been for me,” said Simmons. When asked what advice he’d give aspiring actors, he said: “I read a very romantic book when I was young, when I was in college, Rilke‘s Letters to a Young Poet. I’ve always felt that if you’re in any artistic or creative endeavor and you feel there’s something else you could do and be happy, you should do something else. … If you can look deeply in yourself and honestly there is nothing else that can bring you happiness, then there you go.” The actor was also asked to compare his career now at such a high point compared to “leaner times.” “It’s definitely more tiring than the lean times,” he joked. “In the lean times, you get plenty of sleep and you’re not flying around. For me, the lean times were a wonderful time of my life. I was struggling for many years. I didn’t have a wife and kids to support, so I didn’t have a lot of responsibilities. I look back on those times with great fondness.”
Laura Poitras, director; Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky, producers of best documentary feature Citizenfour:
Poitras’ documentary is highly politicized — it’s a close-quarters portrait of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden — but backstage, the director said she was happy the Academy had honored it as a film. “I think the Academy is full of artists and filmmakers, and that’s what it’s being recognized for, as a film. I feel a lot of kinship with a lot of the films nominated — with Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman. Those are artist-driven films, and I feel a lot of kinship with those films.” When asked how the doc could change the public perception of Snowden’s controversial actions, Bonnefoy said, “One of the things one can do is focus on the person Snowden. And one of the things we’ve tried to do is focus on him. When you get to know him, you know his motives are pure and authentic.” She added, “Once you understand that, you understand it’s really important, and maybe it galvanizes people to want to make a personal change.” Added Poitras, “All we need to do is look at the civil rights movement and what the FBI did with spying on Martin Luther King Jr. This is what happens. This kind of of spying happens, and there’s no oversight.”
Graham Moore, best adapted screenplay winner for The Imitation Game:
Moore was asked about his revelation in his acceptance speech that he’d attempted suicide when he was 16. “Depression is something I have dealt with every single day of my life since then,” he said, thanking his family and friends for their support. He said since his teenage years he’d been “obsessed” with the story of Alan Turing, whose WWII code-breaking he dramatized in The Imitation Game. “Alan was always the outsider’s outsider who never fit in his own time for so many reasons — because he was the smartest man in every room he entered, because he was a gay man in a time when that was illegal, and then because he was keeping all these government secrets,” he said and quipped, “All wartime thrillers should be about mathematics, right?” He recounted how he and his friends have held an Oscar predictions pool for the past 15 years, admitting that while he usually won, tonight he lost because he had not predicted his own win. “I’m getting a lot of texts from my friends, who are proud of me for winning an Oscar and even more proud because they won the pool.”
Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Nicolas Giacobone and Inarritu, best original screenplay winners for Birdman:
“When Alejandro called us, he had an idea that was an abstraction on its own. I think we were the first people he forced to jump down the rabbit hole with him,” said Giacobone. “It was a constant battle with ourselves. The hardest part was that we couldn’t edit ourselves in the editing room or on set because Alejandro and Chivo had it choreographed. That’s what Alejandro demanded, and that’s what came out for better or for worse.”
“It was about what makes us human,” he said of the commentary. “At this point in time, it happens to be superhero films. In 10 years, it might have been a commentary on something else.” Dinelaris jumped in at that point and joked that Birdman 2 would then follow. On getting the film made, Inarritu said, “It was a long road; it was difficult. I don’t blame the people who didn’t finance the film. It sounds so risky, and [with] the corporate mentality, no one could see the light. Fox Searchlight were smart guys. … It was incredible, and it could have been a disaster.” Asked about presenter Sean Penn‘s onstage remark — “Who gave this guy a green card?” — Inarritu simply said, “Sean and I have that kind of brutal relationship. I didn’t find him offensive.”
Alexandre Desplat, best original score winner for The Grand Budapest Hotel:
Desplat had many words to describe how it felt to win for best original score for The Grand Budapest Hotel. “Intense, warm, relieved, happy,” he said backstage. “The idea was that Wes [Anderson] and I would try to create a sound that would fit for this fictional country.” Desplat credited Anderson for his vision on the film: “It’s all him. Actually he should have this award. Wes is very detailed. He liked to be precise, obsessively. The thing about Wes’ movie and his previous movies that we’ve done together, music is very interwoven to the editing, to the rhythm of the film. When we sit together in my studio, very quickly we get excited about ideas, and I try to give shape to that, musically, very quickly.”
John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn, best original song winners for “Glory” from Selma:
Stephens and Lynn — better known by their stage names, John Legend and Common — followed up on Legend’s comments onstage about the incarceration of black men in the U.S. “When we think about equality and justice and freedom, we know we’ve got a lot of work to do, and we hope that our song is inspiration for that work to be done,” Legend said. Added Common, “I feel like to whom much is given, much is required. I feel like we have an opportunity to get to the stage like the Oscars — how could you not say something, when you’re representing a film like Selma, and just being artists that care?” The two then elaborated on the themes of their song. “We all have something in common. I’m not just trying to say my name though,” joked Common. “We’re all legends,” interjected Legend.
Emmanuel Lubezki, best cinematography winner for Birdman:
Lubezki, nicknamed Chivo, admitted that when he first saw the script for Birdman, he thought it “sounded like a nightmare … but Alejandro captivated me, and I truly wanted to do the movie. It was really hard. It was an experiment. He’s a very strong, very curious artist.” He added, “[The approach] comes from the script and what the director needs to tell the story. … This was probably the hardest movie I’ve ever worked on because the shots were very long, and we were not doing ‘coverage.’ That brought an energy to the movie that it otherwise would not have had.”
Tom Cross, best film editing winner for Whiplash:
“[Director Damien Chazelle] always knew he wanted to make a picture that was really strong in terms of character but that was really told stylistically. He really wanted it to be an editor’s showcase,” said Cross backstage. “Damien is relatively young, but his script and his filmmaking abilities are really just beyond his years. He’s incredible.” Cross said Chazelle wanted to “make an action thriller first and a music movie second.” Cross, who has been honored for his work on Whiplash at several awards events leading up to the Oscars, called the whole experience “really amazing.” “There are different levels of feeling humbled and feeling honored,” he said. “A little over a year ago, Damien and I were sitting in an editing room and saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if this movie got into Sundance?’ As we went on, we saw that things started to catch on with people beyond what we thought was possible. … It’s beyond my wildest dreams. It’s kind of an out-of-body experience for me. Just to be nominated is such an honor because I love editors. I’m just humbled to be in their company.”
Pawel Pawlikowski, director of best foreign-language film winner Ida:
“I didn’t think, ‘Oh this is a story about the Holocaust.’ It’s not a Holocaust movie, as they call it in the states, and it’s not a genre film at all. It’s a road movie if anything,” said writer-director Pawlikowski of his film, which centers on a young nun in 1960s Poland who discovers a family secret dating back to the Nazi occupation of the country. The film won Poland’s first Academy Award. “It’s fantastic because there’s a great tradition in films in Poland but no Oscars. This feels really, really great. I hope this encourages the world to look at Polish cinema again and Polish filmmakers to take risks and do their own thing,” said Pawlikowski.
Don Hall and Chris Williams, directors; and Roy Conli, producer of best animated feature winner Big Hero 6:
“I had very strange, mixed emotions getting out of my seat and walking down the aisle,” said Williams. “Of course I was really happy and excited, especially for our crew, hundreds of people who gave everything they had to this film. But I also felt strangely bad for the other directors we know really well, who all made incredible movies. I love all the films that are nominated. I think this is truly one of those years where we can say it’s an honor to be nominated.” The trio praised the collaborative environment at Disney — and noted that the studio’s gigantic hit Frozen in 2013 was more inspiration than pressure. “We were all thrilled with the success of Frozen. We all work on each others films,” said Hall. “It’s an amazing team that works on everyone’s projects,” added Conli. They said the greatest difficulty of Big Hero 6 was reconciling their film’s superhero storyline with the central character’s struggle with grief and loss. “What was so difficult was taking all these disparate elements and bringing them together,” said Williams.
Patrick Osborne, director; Kristina Reed, producer of best animated short winner Feast:
“You know that Disney short history is massive. It’s an incredibly scary and daunting thing. You don’t want to be the bad one; you want to be something that lives up. You’re constantly aware of that,” said Osborne of directing his film, which centers on a dog who experiences his owner’s love life via the meals his owner shares with him. For inspiration, Osborne took short videos of every dinner he ate in 2012. “You watch all your meals, and you can see where your dieting is not working and why you’re gaining weight,” he said. “Everything else happening in your life — it’s amazing how vivid it is through your meals,” added Reed.
Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher, achievement in visual effects winners for Interstellar:
“Every year we get closer and closer to reality, and this … it’s showing us the outrageous beauty of the universe,” VFX supervisor Franklin said of the work, adding of the film’s message, “I had to go away from my home for over a year, away from my young children [to work on the film]. So I felt very much an empathy with Matthew McConaughey‘s character. And that helped inform everything you do, particularly in the end sequence of the film, where we’re trying to maintain the emotional intensity while also providing a spectacular result.” Added Hunter: “Christopher Nolan really wanted us to ground the movie in a very realistic, very humanistic story, and so we’re going to the far end of the universe, but he always constantly emphasized that we wanted to make sure that we brought humanity with us. And so in the visual effects, as awe-inspiring as they are, it’s still backed by family and caring and love. And I think having that guidance from him was really what helped us achieve what we did.”
Asked what he has learned about the relationship between science and the arts, Franklin responded: “I think what they really have in common is creativity. Scientists are creative people. They’re trying to explore the universe in the same way the artists are. They’re just taking a different approach to it. And the great thing with visual effects and special effects is it brings all that together. It brings together physics and math and engineering with creative arts. My background is fine arts. The people I work with have degrees in advanced-level physics, and of course, Kip Thorne is a great astrophysicist. We all speak the same language. That’s the amazing thing that we find when we do these sorts of things.”
Adam Stockhausen (production design) and Anna Pinnock (set decoration), achievement in production design winners for The Grand Budapest Hotel:
Stockhausen and Pinnock spoke fondly of Wes Anderson’s collaborative process on The Grand Budapest Hotel. “We’re using so many traditional elements of painted backgrounds and miniatures, so having this roadmap becomes an essential tool,” said Stockhausen. Added Pinnock: “Wes is extremely meticulous, and he has very definite ideas about production design and set decoration, so it’s very, very collaborative. He’s involved in everything that we do.” When asked how it felt to win the Oscar, they both chimed in that “it’s fantastic.” Added Stockhausen: “It’s just wildly exciting. My knees are shaking a little bit.”
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, achievement in sound editing winners for American Sniper:
Asman and Murray said the biggest challenge of American Sniper was capturing the sound of Chris Kyle‘s (Bradley Cooper) gun. “His weapon had to be powerful yet silent,” Murray said. Additionally, the film’s sound editing was complicated because unlike with period war movies (their first Oscar was for Letters From Iwo Jima), they had to make new recordings of the modern weaponry in Sniper. “To maintain authenticity, Alan recorded 25 guns and all the vehicles. We recorded all that stuff new,” said Asman. “That was the best way to keep it authentic.” The duo had high praise for their Sniper and Iwo Jima director, Clint Eastwood. “He’s always been one to let the artists bring what they can to the table, and he gives you specific notes, but he lets you create on your own, and he respects the artists on his crew. I don’t think he’s changed; he’s still the great friend and gentleman that he is,” said Murray. “For the past 10 or 15 years, it’s just been, ‘Do your thing and I’ll come to the sound stage when you’re ready,'” added Asman.
Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley, achievement in sound mixing winners for Whiplash:
Mann related that the biggest challenge to the work on Whiplash was “the schedule — five weeks from turnover to Sundance — and all the complications of the music. That was very difficult.” Asked how the BAFTA and now the Oscar feels, Wilkins said, “I’ve run out of superlatives.”
Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, achievement in makeup and hairstyling winners for The Grand Budapest Hotel:
“I’ve been working with [director Wes Anderson] for 17 years. This win really comes from Wes, who writes it on the pages, and we worked with it,” said Hannon. “Wes is always pushing the limits and always wants to see a lot of choices before he settles on one. But it’s all in his head; the film is edited before he starts it.”
Ellen Goosenberg Kent, director, and Dana Perry, producer, of best documentary short subject Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
“This film was made a couple years ago, and this topic is as important today if not more than it was then,” said Goosenberg Kent backstage. Perry said of her acceptance speech about the need for suicide to be spoken about more openly: “My main objective was to honor the responders and the staff of the crisis line and the souls out there who are reaching out for help. Of course I do have a personal connection to the subject — I lost my son when he was 15,” she said. “The prevention for suicide is awareness and discussion and not to sweep it under the rug. We have a crisis with veterans; more have killed themselves than have died in the war.” When Perry came backstage, she was not aware of the joke that host Neil Patrick Harris had made about her dress onstage. When told by the press, she said: “That is adorable, and I invite anyone to feel my furry balls.” She added: “I went shopping in my mother-in-law’s attic. She’s not with us anymore. She had great style in the ’60s and ’70s. This is one of her signature pieces that I just love to wear because I can make ridiculous, dirty jokes about it.”
Mat Kirkby and James Lucas, producers of best live-action short film The Phone Call:
“We are still starting out. We only made a short. It took four years to get from pen and paper and get it to film festivals and now here. Be tenacious,” said Kirkby, who directed the short, when asked for advice. “We worked really bloody hard. Everyone worked for nothing with the hope that we can make something we can be proud of. Hopefully next time we can make something we are proud of but this time to prove what we can do with a budget. … We now have a feature script if anyone wants to get it touch with us.”
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