Notes & Quotes from The Academy Awards Luncheon

by | February 15, 2010 at 7:15 PM | The Movies

The annual Academy Award Nominees Luncheon was held this afternoon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, and some of the nominees took some time out to answer some questions from the assembled press. One of the amusing highlights was Christoph Waltz using his time at the podium to loudly scold the people in the waiting room about quieting down, and also his attempt to simultaneously answer a question in English and in German.

Here’s what the nominees had to say today.

“When they said there was going to be a nominee luncheon, I thought it was just going to be just a small table with the guys. You’d think as long as I’ve been doing it, I’d be more prepared for this, but every time I walk in – that red carpet and those lights just seem to get more and more crazy. I’m not prepared for any of it, really. Play it as it lay!” — Best Actor Nominee Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

“I know I work really hard. Just because I work hard doesn’t mean the elements come together to make a good performance or to make a good film, so when that happens and all those elements do come together, I’m always shocked and so happy and amazed. It’s always unexpected to me, because I expect to fail, so that’s why I work even harder. Does anybody expect a nomination? I certainly didn’t. I was shocked that certain ones happened, and I thought ‘now this is when the backlash happens, this is when it gets ugly, okay, I had a nice ride, this was amazing.’ I literally was asleep when the phone rang. I don’t think anyone expects it, but if they do, how great must that feel when they get it? I just didn’t want to be one of those people that, when it didn’t come – which I was prepared for – I wouldn’t be all of a sudden crushed and realize that I’d set everything up for this moment and didn’t realize how crushed I would be. Please don’t let me be one of those people that says ‘I’m happy with what I have’ and then it doesn’t come and I’m miserable for the next four months. I am really very amazed and thankful to be here, because I’d like to work hard for another 10, 15 years.” — Best Actress Nominee Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) on whether or not she feels worthy of the nomination

“I have no idea how I feel. Since people even start talking about this, you’re constantly on a plane and talking yourself into circles so that actually you don’t process anything. I’m sure I’m ecstatic.” — Best Actor Nominee Colin Firth (A Single Man)

“My mom has a crush on Steve Martin, and we used to watch The Jerk pretty much every day. I’m so excited that the show will be hosted by Jack Donaghy and The Jerk!” — Best Actress Nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) on who she’s hoping to meet

“I thought she was this girl. I thought she was the girl, and the minute she stopped the audition and she then started talking like Gabby, I was on the floor. I didn’t understand. ‘It’s some white girl from the Valley!’ She floored me, so she got the job.” — Best Director Nominee Lee Daniels (Precious) on his initial impression of Sidibe

“It’s been mad, really surreal to be standing in front of those statues. It’s been so wild, but it’s been great. I’ve met some really amazing people. Like Quentin Tarantino – I was just out there and I leant back against something and we kind of bumped asses, so that’s a surreal thing to happen.” — Best Actress Nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education)

“I knew that the role was the role of a lifetime, and I knew that the script was fantastic, a fresh take on the conflict – it’s not really about the conflict, it’s about the EODs. I knew that was great. We thought we won when we were in four theaters. We won when we wrapped the movie. It was already a victory for us. So all this, it’s been a really lovely slow trajectory. For me to be standing here now is kind of bananas, but a wonderful feeling.” — Best Actor Nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

“You put your soul into this film to make a statement, to change people’s minds, to have people really take a look at Precious, because I know that I didn’t. I’d walk the streets of New York and walk right by her. Wouldn’t pay attention to her. For me, it’s now made me look at her – not just a black girl, but an unattractive person – what the media says is unattractive. It makes me take a look at these people as people. I hope that Precious does that for everybody else, too. This has been a very, very emotional experience for me, because I never thought we’d get past DVD. And that I’m here at this place, at this time, is a surreal and out-of-body gift not just for me, but for the Preciouses of the world, because I think now people will take a look at her. That was the purpose of the film.” — Best Director Nominee Lee Daniels (Precious)

“People all across the boards, of all ages, races, sexes and creeds – so many people have come up to me and told me about their experiences with abuse and neglect. They’re all special. It’s super private, because a lot of them have told me that the first person they’ve ever told is me. It’s a little strange, but I guess seeing me in the film, they feel they have a connection to Precious.” — Best Actress Nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)

“I read it and I thought ‘I hope this is a great big style fest. Just fashion. I want to look good. Maybe for the last time in my life, I’m really going to be lit well.’ I wanted to be beautiful and utterly superficial, it’ll be 21 days and I’ll get some great suits out of it. Unfortunately, I showed up and I had to do a load of acting.” — Best Actor Nominee Colin Firth (A Single Man) joking about what drew him to the role

“I’m behind on this. Today was the first time I actually saw one dress and looked at some sketches. I’m pretty good – I find something and sort of circle around it. I’m oddly relaxed about it, because it’s someone else’s job to finely stitch thousands of pleats and jewels into a gorgeous thing to make you look divine. Look, if I have to wear a trash bag, I’ll belt it with rhinestones and make it work. I’m not panicking, because there are so many beautiful things out there, someone will not want to wear something and I’ll get it.” — Best Actress Nominee Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) on what she’ll be wearing

“It’s two weeks away and my stomach’s hurting over it a little bit. I’m getting a little scared. I haven’t even started looking at color or anything like that. I got a bunch of sketches through emails and I’ve said that I’ve looked through them, but I lied.” — Best Actress Nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) on who she’s going to wear

“I don’t even know what I’m wearing to BAFTAs. Someone else knows, though. I’ve thought about it – I have dream dresses in my head, but I don’t know who would make them. Hopefully someone good.” — Best Actress Nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education) on what she plans to wear

“I suppose there’d be jitters if I thought I was going to win, but seeing as how I’m certain that I won’t – somebody’s gonna have an accent when they win, but it ain’t gonna be a southern accent – I’m just treating it the way I should, which is as a good party. That’s the way I’m looking at it on March 7.” — Best Supporting Actor Nominee Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)

“This is one of the fantastic things about this whole thing, as it was going on from November until now. It was never about winning. It’s not a competition. It’s not a sports event. There’s no pistol going off and we are all running and the guy who does it under ten seconds comes in first. We do this together. This is a really beautiful camaraderie that I have never experienced – also because I’ve never been in a situation like that. In a way, it’s lovely to see these people who turn into friends. The outcome, we’ll see. Nobody will begrudge anything.” — Best Supporting Actor Nominee Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

“I hope this isn’t too much of a downer, but the one thing he did say to me before I was nominated is ‘there isn’t actually anything at the end of the rainbow. It’s a lot of fun and enjoy it in that spirit, and if you make it mean too much more than that, you’ll probably go astray.’ Then on the morning when I actually was nominated – which was a complete surprise to me because for this movie I actually wasn’t nominated for anything else at all – my phone started ringing at 5:00 in the morning and he just looked at me and said ‘your phone is going to be like that all day.’” — Best Supporting Actress Nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) on advice she got from her brother Jake

“Advice? I have no wisdom on this. I’ve spoken to other people who have been nominated several times, and they all say you never get used to it. It never feels like something that you know how to manage. It’s the first time every time. This really is the first time, and I’m completely unfamiliar with it. I mean, it’s all good. It’s just one is in a perpetual daze, I think.” — Best Actor Nominee Colin Firth (A Single Man)

“I’m not great at the mingling side of things. I tend to stick in a corner. I’ve kind of followed Kathryn Bigelow around quite a lot, but I don’t know if she’s noticed. I’m always like ‘hi!’ whenever I see her.” — Best Actress Nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education)

“I’ve been following her around. She’s so talented.” — Best Director Nominee Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) when told of Mulligan’s statement

“I think it scares me more than anything, because you think ‘what do I do now?’ I was in that place before this came, and it happened several years ago. What do I do now where I don’t step backwards, I step forward. I’ve been thinking a lot about that. What do I do next? I don’t know what could possibly compare to this moment, to this energy, so I’ve decided not to look at work until this is all over, so I can make a real judgment. Judge the way I always have – produce some interesting films and produce some really special ones. I don’t want to stop that. There are some things I’d still like to do, but now I feel like, because of this honor and what I’ve been given these last couple months, I really have an obligation not to step back even the smallest bit. I really feel an obligation to better my work and to keep at it. Keep saying no and keep expecting as good as you give.” — Best Actress Nominee Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) on what this means for her future

“Shoes are a big one for me. Shoes, shoes, shoes – slip-ons, not lace-ups. I’m the person you don’t want to get behind at the moment. I have a baby carriage and full baby regalia. You should look out for families with babies and strollers. My husband can break it down in 30 seconds flat, but that’s another 30 seconds for you to zip through the line.” — Best Supporting Actress Nominee Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air) offering tips for frequent flyers

“I don’t think anyone should ever ask actors advice on anything. Just have a look at the way they conduct their lives. We’re not really a paradigm for a good lifestyle. The only thing that I think is a constant struggle, if you want an earnest answer I suppose, is not to get too bogged down in the tiny, tiny minutiae of negative judgment. The judges will never go away and you cannot wait for everybody to approve of what you do. For every 99 wonderful comments, you will always remember the one negative one, and I think you really have to triumph over that.” — Best Actor Nominee Colin Firth (A Single Man)

“Don’t drink at awards ceremonies. I did that at the Independent Film Awards in London. I was hammered when I stood up – I didn’t think I was going to win, so I was like ‘ah, whatever.’ Then I got up there, and it was lucky that I kept it very short and got off the stage. Since then, I’ve been very well-behaved.” — Best Actress Nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education)

“It comes in handy when you travel. It comes in handy when you’re trying to seduce someone, so why should it not come in handy for a movie? When you learn languages, you learn them because you learn them. Not everything in my life is exclusively geared to the usefulness in professional terms.” — Best Supporting Actor Nominee Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) on the benefits of being multilingual

“I think we really do love each other. We work very very similarly. I count him as a teacher of mine but just inherently, even though he’s 30 years older than I am, I think there’s kind of a way – we just work in the same way. We met and it was three days before the movie started shooting – nothing was explicit, we didn’t talk about any of it, I don’t think either of us really like to talk about acting very much – but we just met and the minute we met I felt like we both just kind of said ‘I’m up for anything. Are you up for anything? Yeah, I”m up for anything.’ And we just got down and did it. We never played the scenes the same way twice. We just responded to each other. It’s what you always want to do, it’s what always you say you do, but unless you’re working with someone as brilliant and as open and as inspired as Jeff Bridges, it’s not always possible. Since then, I’ve cried on his shoulder. I love him. We really are friends.” — Best Supporting Actress Nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) on her close relationship with co-star Jeff Bridges

“The film tends to put a magnifying lens on a very very difficult situation, and with the conflict in Iraq and of course Afghanistan, the film continues to be timely. The geopolitical situation has really put a spotlight on this particular film and it’s offered a glimpse into a conflict that’s been otherwise very abstract. I think it’s touched a nerve.” — Best Director Nominee Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

“The former administration of this country would have you associate the warriors with the war and want you to lump it all in together. They say ‘support the troops’ they mean ‘support our war.’ I think I always kinda lumped it all together, and it wasn’t until I had the opportunity through the shooting of The Messenger to spend a lot of time with people in the army that I started to realize how amazing these people are and how they’re some of the bright lights of people that I’ve met. I really was kinda knocked out by people I met in the military. I have a high regard and a lot of respect for them. As much as I’ve come to love the warrior, I still loathe the war.” — Best Supporting Actor Nominee Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)

“My views have grown as far as my respect for the military. I think knowing a lot more what the warfare is and actually physically doing the same training that they all go through, and then being there and the guys sharing their lives with me as they did so generously – it’s an experience I’ll never forget, and it makes all this actually very palatable. The military is my touchstone at this point. It’s shifted from movie and moviegoer to civilian and soldier, this experience for me. You ask how it’s changed my life? I walk up to any military personnel I can find and shake their hand and thank them for their service.” — Best Actor Nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

THE SPOILER SECTION
(do not read if you haven’t seen these movies yet)

“He doesn’t mean to be a bad guy. I think he’s irresponsible, certainly, and that’s just the path that his life has taken. You follow the script on something like that. You don’t really set out to make him likable or anything. You tell the story you’re given. I didn’t think about making him likable or despicable.” — Best Actor Nominee Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

“I feel like the way that I work on the characters that I play often has a lot to do with who I’m playing. For example, when I did Sherrybaby, a movie about a wild girl who had just gotten out of prison, I refused to rehearse, which isn’t like me at all. I was like a truculent six-year-old. I think it had everything to do with who I was playing. In this movie, I remember thinking to myself before we started shooting ‘okay, how does a thoughtful, at least partially grown-up woman end up in this situation, because women who are that way do end up in situations like that all the time, so how does that happen?’ And then I never thought about it again. I think that’s how it was for Jean. She’s somebody who wasn’t thinking. I think of myself as a thoughtful woman and there are all sorts of times that I’ve found myself in situations where I just go ‘God, how could I? I wasn’t thinking, I just wasn’t using my mind.’ Then, on top of that is also the thing of when you’re hot for someone, when it’s on, it’s just on! You can’t do anything about it. You can’t choose who turns you on. You can choose not to pursue it, but that’s not what she does.” — Best Supporting Actress Nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) on her character’s motivation

“There’s a scene that I actually have a hard time watching, and it’s toward the end of the movie, the suicide bomber. That sequence is pretty harrowing and I think that gives the idea of the tension of the movie and puts a face to the war, versus it just being a dead goat on the side of the road or something.” — Best Actor Nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

“In the words of the woman who is in my category, Mo’Nique, she said it best at the Screen Actors Guild Awards – ‘just be it, don’t judge it, just leave it on the floor.’ I think I had to do that with Alex as well. Usually when women are portrayed in such a wanton, demanding, sort of masculine sexual way, they come across as floozies. The trick was to do it with grace and dignity and not judge her actions like a court-appointed lawyer before the grand jury of the audience. Just be there to support her, not judge her.” — Best Supporting Actress Nominee Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air) on her approach to her character