The Hollywood Reporter’s round table series adds its next installment Monday morning, assembling actresses Oprah Winfrey (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”), Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County”), Emma Thompson (“Saving Mr. Banks”), Octavia Spencer (“Fruitvale Station”), Amy Adams (“American Hustle”) and Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”) to talk everything from summoning tears for Steven Spielberg to, er, “muff shots.” Quote highlights below, plus full video.
Missing from the panel are established actresses and strong Oscar contenders who don’t like to travel from their hometowns — Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep and Judi Dench.
On the best or worst piece of advice they’ve been given in Hollywood:
JULIA ROBERTS: It’s going to be a long hour.
OCTAVIA SPENCER: Well, I’ll break that ice. When I first
started acting, my acting teacher said, “Imagine if you’re doing a scene
and someone is out in the hall. If it sounds like you’re doing a scene, you’re
doing a scene. If it sounds like you’re actually having a conversation, you’re
having a conversation.”
EMMA THOMPSON: I’ve got one, I’ve got one! My godfather was
a sort of writer, philosopher, gay man, extraordinary, and he was a director of
theater, and he gave my mum a piece of advice. I think it applies to
everything. He said, “Onstage, imagine you’ve got a fire burning in your
dressing room.” There’s something going on elsewhere; it takes your mind
OPRAH WINFREY: I was in The Color Purple, 1985. I didn’t
know anything about acting. I’d never even been to Universal Studios. So I
walked in — first scene, first day, Steven Spielberg — and I looked directly
in the camera because that’s what you do on television. I walked in and went,
“How you doing, Miss Celie?” And he went, “Cut! Cut! Cut! What
is wrong with you?” And I’m standing there, trembling. “Where are you
looking?” I go, “I’m looking at the camera.” He goes, “Miss
Celie’s over there!” [I was] terrified. And then there was a scene where
he asked me to cry. I loved being in that film so much, it just changed
everything in my life, and I came to set even when I didn’t have to work, and
I’d be in the background crying. So Steven goes, “I want you to do that this
afternoon.” Well, I had no idea how to make that happen again. I had no
technical skills, and when the scene was being filmed, I couldn’t cry. I could
hear the film turning in the camera, and the entire room waiting for me to cry
ROBERTS: Wow. I’m not hanging around the right people. I’m
going to make some calls.
LUPITA NYONG’O: My teacher at Yale, Ron Van Lieu, once said,
“It feels like it’s all about you, but it’s not about you at all. It’s
about the person you’re playing.” And that always helps me get out there
and do the thing I’ve been hired to do. I am fighting for what my character
wants, and if I’m pursuing that, then I’m good.
WINFREY: Wow, are you good.
AMY ADAMS: You spoke of Steven — he gave me some amazing
advice. I wasn’t able to cry for him — me, too — in Catch Me If You Can, and
through tenderness he came up to me and said: “Can you close your eyes for
me? Think about Brenda, think about how much she loves and how much she has to
give.” I opened my eyes, and he goes, “Let go and lead with
WINFREY: Oh, I could just cry right now.
ADAMS: And when Steven Spielberg tells you to do that, you