Backlot: Honors Focus on Actors

Sue Mable/PictureGroup

The film Santa Barbara Film Festival’s Virtuoso Award recipients share snippets from the making of their movies.

Andrew Garfield
On working with director David Fincher to find the right tone for Eduardo Saverin’s climactic deposition in The Social Network:

“It’s where I say to Jesse [Eisenberg, as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg], ‘I was your only friend. You had one friend.’ The first time I did that, it came out incredibly emotional. Throughout the deposition, Eduardo had tried not to show any emotion. He didn’t want Mark to see how hurt he was. Organically, it just happened —

I broke. But [Fincher’s] instinct told him that it wasn’t right for that moment, because it was going to be juxtaposed with the big scene in the past where I’ve been betrayed. He kept going until I was drained. He got a more exhausted reading of that moment out of me.”

John Hawkes
On getting into the skin of Teardrop in Winter’s Bone:

“I have no acting training, but in my one year of college, I did take a bunch of theater courses. One of them was stage makeup. On small films, I’ve made bruises and cuts that had to change over time. I didn’t work for the first few days of the Winter’s Bone shoot, so I’d go to the set and our makeup artist Maya Harding and I would spend a couple of hours working together. Over several days, we created Teardrop’s look. I did some of the fake tattoo and scar work and a lot of the dirt on my hands. We got it to where we could do it in less than an hour.”

Lesley Manville
On teaming with writer-director Mike Leigh for a seventh time to play Mary in Another Year:

“Literally, he phones you and says, ‘Would you like to be in my film?’ and it’s really either a yes or a no. There are no characters. He doesn’t know what the milieu is going to be. It’s really an act of faith. Then you have a long rehearsal period. It was about 18 weeks with Another Year. He works with us individually for a very long time, creating our individual characters. Then he will bring all the characters together, and we’ll do improvisations. Further down the line, he’ll start to think of where all the potential stories of these characters might go. He’s certainly the one who gives it a dramatic shape and an arc. But the actual sentences that Mary speaks have come from me.”

Hailee Steinfeld
On saddling up for revenge in her first big role as Mattie Ross in True Grit:

“In the beginning, my goal was to get the job. Then, when I was on the set, it was to be in touch with myself and make sure I was getting it to where I wanted it to be and making [writer-directors] Joel and Ethan Coen happy. Before every scene, they’d brief me about how it was going to go. Emotionally, the hardest was where Rooster kills Mattie’s horse. I had a hard time finding something that I could relate to as emotional as that. Fortunately, nothing has happened to my family as bad as what’s happened to this girl’s family.”

Jacki Weaver
On bringing an authentic edge to crime-family matriarch Janine Cody in Animal Kingdom:

“Even though it was inspired by real events and people, we built the character from the ground up and did a lot of research into true crime. [Writer-director] David Michod gave us intricate backstories, but he was open-minded about letting us add to them. For my money, the family’s backstory would be that all the children came from different fathers, and they would’ve all been of the criminal element. She likes being at the center of these dangerous young men.”

Santa Barbara Film Festival
Jan. 27-Feb. 6
Santa Barbara, Calif.