At a recent private luncheon for awards contender "The Help" at Desmond's in New York, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer didn't touch their dessert, a chocolate pie/cake hybrid — did they know something the rest of us weren't privy to? Speaking very slowly as if it were a warning, Davis teased, "I probably should not have dessert here," before revealing her real reason: she had a stash of Ladurée macarons back at her hotel. Laughed Spencer, "I'm just glad they didn't make our chocolate pie."
In case her character's secret ingredient tainted the reputation of chocolate pies the world round, Spencer tries to make up for it by sending out the real deal though she is doing her best to stay away from sweet treats for now. "Me, I'm trying to lose a little for health benefits, but I don't want to ever miss out on the sensuality of food," she told The Playlist. "I send a whole array of pies, so the chocolate pie isn't singled out, but yeah, I get them from the pie company and I send them. Otherwise it's going to be bad for the chocolate pie makers!" Does she ever do a homemade version? "Oh God, no," she laughed. "I don't bake at all. Not at all."
When the two aren't campaigning for their favorite treats, they're in full blown Oscar-nomination campaign mode, which is a little "intensified" Davis said. "People will say, 'You know you're in competition with Meryl Streep,' or, 'Only so many black actresses have won the Oscar before.' They start citing all these statistics at you," such as only one black actress, Halle Berry, has won for lead, and only four for supporting actress: Hattie McDaniel for "Gone with the Wind," Whoopi Goldberg for "Ghost," Jennifer Hudson for "Dreamgirls," and most recently Mo'Nique for "Precious."
"People tend to see you as more than what you are — this is something President Obama faced — and you become the focus of their vision and dreams," she continued. "So you start feeling like if you don't live up to the expectations, then you're a failure. But what is there to feel like a failure about? This has been the most extraordinary journey, and we're proud of what we've done."
Instead, Davis said, she refuses to think of it as a competition, especially when she and her former "Doubt" co-star Streep are pitted against each other. "There's no way I would do that," she said. "It diminishes her, and it diminishes everyone. They're all fabulous actors, and the worst thing we could do is look outside of the work."
For her part, Spencer said she's just "thrilled" that "The Help" was one of two female-dominated breakout films of the year, along with "Bridesmaids" (which costars her friend Melissa McCarthy). "It's important for people to see varied body types, hues of color, everything," Spencer said. "And it just tells you that we need more projects like this." But that could backfire, she said, if the inevitable copycats are rushed out, as she predicts: "People have short memories, but this year there are two female-dominated films that dominated the box office, so next year, there will be a lot of copycats that aren't quality but were rushed out, and the cycle will start over again — and then we'll have to go back to the drawing board, and establish ourselves again."
In the meantime, Spencer's told us that she is writing a new project for McCarthy, but wanted to keep details to herself for now. "Melissa and I are really good friends," she explained. "And we both have same reps, so I'm actually writing something that I'm approaching her to do, we're figuring it out [now]."
Spencer is currently prepping to co-star in Diablo Cody's directorial debut "Lamb of God," in which she would play a Vegas dealer who likes to sing karaoke. "I am literally going to do what I've always done," she said of her acting approach. "I'm researching cards, then I build a bio of the character not in script, and I work with an acting coach — can't change the formula now. I used to do [karaoke] all the time, but [my character's] not even really good at it, so I don't need to do any practice!" And if things go her way on Sunday at the Academy Awards for "The Help," she's happy to take home Oscar. "He's got a lot of bling," she laughed. "I love that."