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Live Backstage at the 2012 Indie Spirit Awards: ‘The Artist’ Dominates; Williams No Longer ‘Susan Lucci’ of Spirit Awards

Live Backstage at the 2012 Indie Spirit Awards: 'The Artist' Dominates; Williams No Longer 'Susan Lucci' of Spirit Awards

TOH! is live backstage at the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Check back for updates as the winners accept their awards and meet the press.

Host Seth Rogen, who has no clue why they do the show in a tent in Santa Monica, says “it kind of feels like we’re all camping together, which is nice.” This is his first time hosting, and says he watched the first five minutes of all the nominee’s films. “I don’t know what the opposite of selling out is, but I kind of want that to happen [by hosting this show].” Of all the four seasons, “Awards season is best,” says Rogen. And without awards season, he says, “we wouldn’t know what a horrible bigot Brett Ratner is.” The jokes (and swear words) are never-ending with this host. The audience ate it up.

Winner – Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”

Plummer began his acceptance speech, “It took me the longest time to realize Spirit Awards had nothing to do with booze. I raise my glass to Michael  Mills.” Backstage, Plummer says every new generation has to go through “The Sound of Music” to be civilized. He hopes winning this award helps in getting more people to see “Beginners.” He says he’s going to croak any minute and needs to keep going. Next up, he’s doing something with HBO, but won’t say what. He jokes that the whole crew on “Beginners” was gay; but what really helped him relax into the character was the script and its “humor against all odds,..no self pity at all.” He says actors should love every minute of this “horrific profession,” otherwise quit while they can.

Winner – Best First Screenplay: Will Reiser, “50/50”

Reiser says the best part of winning the award is joining the prestigious list of past winners; “to be listed among those names is really special.” He didn’t know how the film would resonate with audiences, since it was so personal (it ws inspired by his own bout with cancer). He notes how wonderful it is that the film has enabled others to talk about their experiences with cancer. He feels there is less and less room for films about real people and great characters, and says its nice to know there is a community of like minded people that honors them, like here at the Spirit Awards.

Winner – Best Cinematography: Guillaume Schiffman, “The Artist” (Not in attendance)

Winner – Best Supporting Actress: Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”

Woodley says she is grateful, and says “surprised isn’t the right word.” She is grateful for the whole experience of filming “The Descendants” at eighteen; it was “a catalyst for coming into my own as a human being.” She says George Clooney has taught her so much about the world and philantrophy; “he’s a dymanite human being.” She thinks there is a lot of work to be done in our society–health and genocide, to name a few. She says her life has changed in only one way — she hasn’t had time to do laundry. She doesn’t have another film lined up yet but wants to do “something dark.”

Winner – The John Cassavetes Award: “Pariah,” Director Dee Rees and Producer Nekisa Cooper

They say it’s all about performance and that John Cassavetes is one of their favorite directors. “It’s all about community,” they say, and “it took a village to make this movie.” Rees says, “I am in love with my whole cast.” Rees says, “write from the heart, don’t worry about [your film] being commercial.” Cooper adds, “find a good producer” and surround yourself with “people who believe in your story.”

Winner – Best Male Lead: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist” (Not in attendance)

Winner – Best Documentary: “The Interrupters,” Director Steve James and Producer Alex Kotlowitz

James says this award means a lot for a film like this, which is about urban violence. Kotlowitz explains that it was through three of the Interrupters that led them to the rest of the characters of the film. The plan was to spend a year with these people, following them and their work. James says the filmmaking community in Chicago is great and supporting. He calls it the “quintessential American city.” James says this is Kotlowitz’s first doc, and jokes that he should “walk away right now.” They hope to make narrative features together.

Winner – Best Screenplay: “The Descendants,” Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

Winner – Best International Film: “A Separation” (Iran), Asghar Farhadi

Winner – The Robert Altman Award (previously announced): “Margin Call”

Actor-producer Zachary Quinto says, “I learned so many things from these titans of the craft.” He thanks everyone who championed the movie.

Winner – Best First Feature Award: “Margin Call,” Director J.C. Chandor

“This movie was very hard to get made,” says Chandor, harder than he thinks it should have been. He thanks everyone who helped and allowed it to be made. He’s choked up.

“We had an amazing cast for a year,” says Chandor, who is joined backstage by his gang of producers. “It took someone taking a risk,” he adds.

Quinto says its good material that actors — or, at least good actors — respond to. “Everybody signed on because of the screenplay; I just had to twist some arms.” Quinto is also producing Chandor’s second feature, which is going into production soon.

Winner – Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”

Winner – Best Female Lead: Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

Williams tops off an adorable, short and sweet acceptance speech with; “The only thing that I own that I’m wearing is my dignity. Thank you very much.” Backstage, Williams says her friends were calling her the Susan Lucci of the Spirit Awards (before this win). “You have to remove the fact that she was an icon,” she says of playing Marilyn Monroe, “otherwise it would be too daunting.” She says you “become a good student,” that’s how you prepare, it’s what “anyone would do” when you play a character. She’s asked how she’s made it to the top of Hollywood. She doesn’t know, but says, “I just sorta keep my head down. There’s this Quaker thing; eyes to the ground, heart to the sky,..I just keep focused.”

Winner – Best Feature: “The Artist,” Producer Thomas Langmann, Director Michel Hazanavicius

What did Harvey Weinstein bring to the film? “He’s great. No, really,” says producer Thomas Langmann. He says they had very short meetings when they were trying to get funding for “The Artist.” “People kept telling me, this is against conventional wisdom,” he says. He says the best place to do the film was here, and to be rewarded by this community is “A dream come true.” Did he think they would make it this far? “No.” Hazanavicius says he feels magic when he goes to the cinema, but when you are making a movie, there’s no recipe for it. You just find the right people and hope it works. “We had a police escort to come from the airport,” he says; “That was great!” Langmann says “Harvey [Weinstein] had faith that the movie would do well all over the world.”

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