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Marcia Gay Harden Implies Judi Dench ‘Wasn’t So Happy’ When She Won the Oscar for ‘Pollock’

Harden isn't naming names, but she's not denying Dench was the one nominee who wasn't rooting for her Best Supporting Actress win that night.

Marcia Gay Harden arrives at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in a tent in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, USA, on 23 February 2019. | usage worldwide Photo by: Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Marcia Gay Harden

Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Marcia Gay Harden was up against some stiff competition in 2001, the year she won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for “Pollock.” In her winning turn as painter Lee Krasner, Harden had to contend with Judi Dench for “Chocolat,” Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand for “Almost Famous,” and Julie Walters for “Billy Elliot.” In a new interview with Vulture, Harden implies there was one nominee who wasn’t so happy over her surprise win that night.

“It’s new blood. It just felt great,” she said of the unexpected win. “And by the way, I felt the girls were really happy for me as well. There was one I will not mention — but it wasn’t Kate — who seemingly wasn’t so happy.”

When pressed further by writer Matt Jacobs, Harden ruled out Julie Walters, and said “I’m friends with Frances McDormand. There you go,” leaving only Judi Dench as the only possibility. Plus, she added, “Frances doesn’t give a shit” about winning awards (even though she’s up for Best Actress this year for “Nomadland”).

Harden said, “I don’t want to say anything negative about anybody, honestly. It was my perception that somebody wasn’t so happy, but you never know what people have going on. Whatever.”

She added, “However, I’m a big one for effusive congratulations. That’s who I am. I’m just so happy for other people in their wins and their glories. For me, there’s plenty of room at the top. Sometimes you just accept that life rolls along and things come to you when they should.”

She also mentioned that Julia Roberts won Best Actress for “Erin Brockovich” that night, and that Harden had beat out a then-unknown Roberts for a role in the Coen brothers’ “Miller’s Crossing.”

Harden also acknowledged that her Oscar win didn’t catapult her to major stardom, nor did it usher in a major payday soon after. “In retrospect, maybe I could have held off for the next big role and constantly planted myself in a leading way,” she said. “Retrospect is not my best friend. I think it’s a leash around your neck that keeps tugging you back.” Her next project was the CBS drama “The Education of Max Bickford,” which overlapped with 9/11 and only lasted one season. “For me, that television show never quite recovered, and I think the finances in the film industry changed,” she said. “I was the breadwinner for my family, so it was important to keep my family afloat.”

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