Among the stars stopping by the Beverly Hilton interview room on their way to the Oscar Nominees Luncheon were Ben Affleck, Tim Burton, Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Quvenzhane Wallis, Robert De Niro, Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Anne Hathaway and Jacki Weaver. Absent from the press room (if not the lunch) were Joaquin Phoenix, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Hooper, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino. Among those not at the lunch at all were Philip Seymour Hoffman, Emmanuelle Riva, Alan Arkin and Daniel Day Lewis, who sends word from home that he and his entire family are struck with the flu. He was very sorry to miss the event.
Check out highlights of what each had to say below.
Tim Burton, Best Animated Feature – “Frankenweenie”
He showed up with his arm in a sling; he slipped and fell on the icy streets of London. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m not going for the sympathy vote.”
Ben Affleck, Best Picture – “Argo”
Upon taking the podium, the producer/director/star said that he felt like he was “talking to the whole search engine.” He’s happy to be rubbing elbows with the directors that were nominated, and is “elated” by the seven nominations “Argo” received. He’ll leave to the “Oscarologists” to determine whether or not the Directing category should be expanded as was the Best Picture category.
Bradley Cooper, Best Actor – “Silver Linings Playbook”
To prepare for his role, Cooper says he spent a lot of time with director David O. Russell’s son, as well as his bipolar friends who didn’t realize they were being studied. He touted co-star Chris Tucker as both a great actor and comedian, and said they got along together very well. As for whether “SLP” is a game changer for his career, he says, “Well I know I wasn’t up here for ‘Hangover.'”
Hugh Jackman, Best Actor – “Les Miserables”
Jackman says he was “so stalkerish about getting the role” of Jean Valjean, but says he watched none of the prior films. “I was terrified but knew I needed to make it my own…I went into ‘ignorance is bliss’ with Tom [Hooper].”
Denzel Washington, Best Actor – “Flight”
He recalled the 2000 Oscars when his daughter made a picture saying “You my Oscar anyway plus I don’t like Kevin Space.” He keeps that Oscar “right next to the other ones.”
Being reminded that he is the African American with the most Oscar nominations (six), Washington reminded that there is “always room for improvement,” especially for African American women.
Jessica Chastain, Best Actress – “Zero Dark Thirty”
Chastain says, “Most little girls dream about their wedding dress, but I dreamed about my Oscar dress!” She wants to wear something that celebrates a woman’s body, and is a throwback to a different era. After having three Broadway shows this weekend, she admits she’s tired and “doesn’t know what worlds I’m in right now.” She realizes that at this point in the Awards season “It starts to feel like a race,..but acting is different from tennis. I already feel like I’ve won. That will be very important to focus on for my family and I.”
Her advice for actors trying to work their way up is to “Always do something every single day that reminds you you’re an actor, even when your not getting paid,..Do it for yourself, so you don’t feel like someone else is in charge of your growth as an actor.” Her advice for women in any field historically dominated by men is to look at the great examples of women, like her director Kathryn Bigelow and her character Maya. “Instead of complaining about the numbers not matching, if you do really great work it will rise to the top.” She says Bigelow never talks about the glass ceiling, she’s simply an expert on set and a brilliant filmmaker.
Jennifer Lawrence, Best Actress – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Lawrences says that her Oscar dress mentality this year is “Suck it up, wear a corset.” As for the hype, she says “No one in my family gets in, their like ‘wha?'” And then the night of the oscars “Everyone just gets wasted.” She likes having friends around her while she’s getting ready so she stays out of her head.
Naomi Watts, Best Actress – “The Impossible”
She agrees that the film’s Production Designer, Eugenio Caballero’s work, should have gotten nominated, and that there were many others involved with her film whose work went unrecognized. “Maybe because not enough people have seen the film,” she says.
Quvenzhane Wallis, Best Actress – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
She clarified her name, and says that her friends call her Q. On being the youngest Best Actress nominee in history, she says, “I’m happy and excited but this something that you’ll never think will happen at your age.”
Robert De Niro, Best Supporting Actor – “Silver Linings Playbook”
After all these years he says being nominated is still a big deal. He says he trusted Russell since everything he does is great. He says he’ll never volunteer advice but is always very happy to give it if people ask.
Christoph Waltz, Best Supporting Actor – “Django Unchained”
Though he never imagined he’d receive another nomination for a Quentin Tarantino film, he says, “I owe Quentin more than I’d like to admit.”
Amy Adams, Best Supporting Actress – “The Master”
Adams had the most entertaining time a the podium. She arrived says, “Sorry, you just interrupted my flirting with Bradley cooper and Christoph waltz…it’s going to be a good lunch for me.” Music started playing while she spoke and she handled it brilliantly, saying she always likes having a soundtrack. This is her fourth nomination and she says she’s just enjoying it because she doesn’t know if she’ll ever be back here. “This year I’m having fun, I am actually experiencing it.”
Sally Field, Best Supporting Actress – “Lincoln”
Asked about her process for playing the highly emotional being that was Mary Todd Lincoln, she says “I just did my work.”
Anne Hathaway, Best Supporting Actress – “Les Miserables”
Hathaway says the best part of the Awards season has been “Seeing Deb Hayward’s face at the Golden Globes” when they won Best Comedy or Musical, noting that is was her dream to make it and her first film as producer. Hathaway was asked if there are still casting rooms she can’t get into, and she says that she’s been “hanging out with Steven Spielberg lately,” so doesn’t think she needs to worry about it anymore. But she admits one always has to fight for what they want and show people what you have to offer.
Helen Hunt, Best Supporting Actress – “The Sessions”
Hunt spoke of the real life woman she plays in the film, and says: “There’s no one like her I’ve ever met…Except my daughter who is eight and radiates that positive energy.” She spoke to her “lack of weirdness” and calls her “a shining light.” Hunt says she received a note from her saying “Thank you for understanding my intentions with Mark.”
Jacki Weaver, Best Supporting Actress – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Weaver says that like most people she has friends and family with psychological ailments, and also knows mental health professionals; “one of the things about the film coming out is that they all say it’s the best depiction of mental illness they’ve seen.” She says a big part of why Russell made the film was so that “his son wouldn’t feel alone.” Weaver, who was nominated for “Animal Kingdom” in 2011, says she “never imagined she would be so warmly embraced by this community and country,” and still can’t believe the career she’s had after a “contended fifty year career.” She’s 65 and very happy about it, and as for her fame she says, “It’s even more fun when schoolboys in the street recognize me.”