This year's THR Actress Roundtable features a smattering of lead and supporting actress contenders: Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone"), Naomi Watts ("The Impossible"), Helen Hunt ("The Sessions"), Anne Hathaway ("Les Miserables"), Sally Field ("Lincoln"), Rachel Weisz ("The Deep Blue Sea") and Amy Adams ("The Master").
The women discussed career challenges, the roles they've had to turn down, fight for, and the ones they're hungry to play, and gender imbalance in the industry. Check out some highlights below as well as our interviews with Cotillard, Watts and Weisz.
What's the scariest thing about acting today? Fields replies: "Getting to do the work," since quality roles are so hard to come by, and so competitive to get. She explains just how hard she had to fight for her role in "Lincoln," which she eventually won after Daniel Day-Lewis flew in from Ireland to do "the most bizarre improv in the history of time for about an hour," and Watts explains the time a "very fancy director we all know" fell asleep during her audition.
Watts likes feeling fear as part of her process, saying "I love bubbling nervousness, it makes me… feel that I'm more capable of reaching something, of going to a place I haven't gone before." Apparently, she often tries to pull out of a role at the last minute. "It's just my habit, my process," she says. Weisz agrees: "Fear is the steam that fires the combustion engine."
As for acting in the nude in "The Sessions," Helen Hunt says she was scared, but "my desire to be in something beautiful was bigger than my nerves."
Judging oneself is always tough. Hathaway admits: "I always think I'm terrible, so it's always a relief when I found out that I wasn't." She reveals that she considers a failure one role that she wanted to pull out of because she was in over her head. "I love this so much and I want to be as good as I possibly can. My biggest fear is overreaching." As for Hathaway's Oscar hosting gig, she thinks that playing to the house came across quite manic and "hyper-cheerleaderly," but she doesn't regret it.
And recovering from a role can take time. Cotillard recalls the period of her life following "La Vie En Rose," which took a long time to come out of. She also felt the need to do a major clean-up of old relationships in her life. She says, "[When] you go deep inside yourself, even if it's with a character..it opens things inside of you..just things that you don't want to carry anymore that you need to heal."
On the hurdles of fame, the actresses agree that the paparazzi is enemy number one, especially since most of them have or are planning to have children. Adams admits, "I am going to get into an altercation withe the papparazzi–it's going to happen."
What else makes them angry? "Lots of things," says Cotillard, who says that it's hard to find producers and directors "with an imagination that will take you places that other people didn't think you were good for." She considers her "La Vie En Rose" director, Olivier Dahan, one of the few.
As for the gender divide in the industry, the women rallied to ask THR if they asked the same questions at the Actors Roundtable. Hathaway seemed the most optimistic for positive change and Weisz thanked Fields for paving the way. But, reminds Adams, "You are told constantly that you have a shelf life [as an actress]," and she doubts that it's the same for men.
Watch the complete roundtable below: