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This year, two real-life couples were honored with nominations in the acting categories. Previous Oscar winners Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz earned fresh noms for their respective leading roles in Amazon’s Being the Ricardos and Sony Pictures’ Parallel Mothers. And for their roles in Netflix’s Western The Power of the Dog, first-timers Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst were nominated for best supporting actor and supporting actress.
“I really didn’t expect anything,” Cruz tells THR on the heels of the Oscar nominations announcement Feb. 8. The Spanish actress was a dark-horse contender in a competitive category this year but had high hopes for husband Bardem’s chances. “I thought maybe he had more [of a] chance. Then they said his name, and I started screaming. But he was not screaming because he was waiting for mine. I was like, ‘Please, get happy about yours!’ ”
Adds Bardem: “I was very shocked, very happy, but I was waiting for hers — mine won’t make any sense without hers. Both of us would feel strange if we had to celebrate just one. And when hers happened, then we broke loose.”
Dunst, a frontrunner throughout the season for her role in Jane Campion’s period piece, was especially excited for fiancé Plemons’ nom. “I screamed like a psycho, and I think I scared my children,” she tells THR of the moment she heard Plemons’ name. She had an optimistic feeling it would be a good morning for both of them. “I’m a member of the Academy — I voted for Jesse!” she says with a laugh, noting that the shared honors feel very “old-school, like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.”
As Dunst notes, their noms follow a Hollywood tradition that began in 1932, when Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were the first couple to be nominated in the same year, receiving best actor and actress nominations for The Guardsman. In 1967, both Burton and Taylor were nominated for playing the volatile couple in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Taylor won best actress for the film), and in 1968, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn achieved the same recognition for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Hepburn won best actress). Joel Coen and Frances McDormand are the only couple in Oscars history to be nominated and win in the same year: Coen won best original screenplay (shared with his brother Ethan) and McDormand won best actress for Fargo in 1997.
Hilton Dresden contributed to this report.
This story first appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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