Most people recognize the giant class photo taken at the annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon. But every year at the Beverly Hilton, just a short walk from the hotel’s famous ballroom, a few of the nominees come over to the interview room to talk about their roles, collaborators and awards experiences.
Below is a collection of some of the best quips, lines and insights from this year’s nominees.
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
Juggling an awards campaign and shooting a film can be a daunting task, but Vikander’s had plenty of tips from her co-star Eddie Redmayne, who pulled off the balancing act last year. “He said, ‘Try to enjoy it, because it is pretty wonderful,'” Vikander said of Redmayne’s advice.
Vikander also expressed her excitement at working on a variety of projects, including the upcoming “Jason Bourne” and a film with director Wim Wenders. “I’m doing something different, which is always what you long for,” Vikander said.
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
Though the awards campaigns may be over in a few short weeks, McKay was clear that the financial issues facing the housing market depicted in his film are ongoing. “It’s clear the problem is still in front of us. The reason we made the movie was that it was disheartening to us that the conversation had stopped,” McKay said.
Hoping to continue propelling the story forward, McKay also discussed the planned screening of the film for members of Congress on Wednesday. “This is not a left-right issue. This is about us losing our homes or jobs,” McKay said, adding his message to lawmakers: “Your constituents, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, could lose everything because of this.”
When asked about the ever-shifting Best Picture race, McKay highlighted what the contending films shared. “We don’t really think about which movie is going to win what. What we’re happy about is that movies that are dealing with entrenched power and corruption, like ‘Spotlight’ and like our movie, are being considered.”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Taking the opportunity to discuss the process of performance and creating art, Larson said that she used acting “as a tool to connect. I was always deeply worried that I was unlovable, that I wasn’t normal and the world was going to be this scary, hard place.”
On the opportunity to embrace those anxieties and allow them to feed her work, Larson said, “Whether it was a comedy or a drama, every time I did it, I would get this response back from people saying, ‘I feel that, too!'”
Inevitably, the conversation turned to her co-star Jacob Tremblay. “I’m a better person for knowing and having worked with him,” Larson said. Reiterating the natural chemistry between the two, Larson explained that his presence has helped her through both making and promoting the film. “He was a wonderful buffer through making the film. I was never allowed to get precious about my performance because it was always about him. It’s such a gift that’s carried over to this experience where I’m paired up with him constantly. All of these ‘firsts’ are with this child who has brought so much joy and light to my life that I can focus on him again and not have to worry so much about this weird thing that’s happening,” Larson said.
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
Ever the charmer, Stallone walked into the room with a big grin, proclaiming, “Hi, strangers!”
Stallone was quick to express gratitude for the outpouring of support following his wins at previous awards shows in this cycle. “I never thought I’d be able to cross this threshhold again. I wish I had done more being a bit more adventurous,” Stallone said. As far as newfound respect from his family, Stallone said, “I couldn’t be more thrilled at the fact that my daughters look at me now as an actor and not a bad golfer.”
Given the time that’s passed since his last awards experience, Stallone was uniquely qualified to take stock of how the industry has both changed and remained the same since “Rocky” in 1976. Stallone described one of his first Hollywood encounters with John Wayne, one which was encouraging to him as a young actor. “I’ve never gotten over that kind of generosity, that he was a celebrity, but still humble enough. It’s a very competitive city, but nonetheless it’s built on this universal desire to communicate to the world new ideas and fresh ideas,” he said.
On his way out, he quipped, “You’d be surprised that many of [the people] here are new to me. Last time I was here, I think Lincoln was in the White House.”
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Getting nominated for an Oscar is certainly a surprise, but Leigh felt like getting the call to play the part may have even been a bigger shock. “Working with Quentin [Tarantino] has been something I’ve longed for for a very long time,” Leigh said about getting the role.
Leigh was also very gracious for the opportunity to be a part of “Anomalisa,” another film being honored as a Best Animated Feature nominee. “Obviously, Lisa’s the antithesis of Daisy,” she said, comparing her roles in the two films. “The fact that Charlie [Kaufman] thought of me for Lisa is very touching for me. I find that movie to be a groundbreaking film.”
Despite the emotional and physical toll that Daisy takes in “The Hateful Eight,” Leigh said of the film: “It was a blast.”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
McAdams used much of her time to praise Sacha Pfeiffer, the journalist who she portrays in Tom McCarthy’s film. Of Pfeiffer, McAdams said, “She made a great role. I owe this nomination to her entirely. I hope that we continue to tell the stories of great women. She’s a real unsung hero.”
When discussing her research for the role, McAdams expressed gratitude for having Pfeiffer as a first-hand resource, but explained how the process wasn’t easy. “She’s very, very modest. You can’t interview her. I had such a hard time getting anything out of her because she cares about other peoples’ stories more than herself. So it was nice to be able to put her on the pedestal for once,” McAdams said.
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
This is the second time around for Mara, who acknowledged that she learned from her previous nomination experience. Equipped with that extra knowledge of the process, she explained how the awards season runs the full range of emotions. “Sometimes it feels like you’ve been celebrating the same person’s birthday for months on end,” Mara said.
But for all the exhaustion, she said that “there’s this other wonderful side of it where you get to meet all these people that you’re inspired by and that you want to work with. It’s a huge honor.”
The Academy Awards will take place February 28 at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center, and broadcast live on ABC at 5:30PM PST / 8:30PM EST.