LOS ANGELES—Backstage at the Oscars, away from the cameras in the show that was watched by almost a billion people around the world, the Oscar winners on Sunday evening (Monday morning in the Philippines) broke into laughter and tears as they fielded questions from the press.
Anne Hathaway was overcome by emotion at one point in the interview room at the Loews Hollywood Hotel, which is connected to the Dolby Theatre. She fought back tears as she talked about her dreams coming true, an ironic contrast to the bleak anthem she sings in “Les Misérables.”
“I had a dream, and it came true,” she managed to say. “And that can happen. And that’s wonderful. That was all I was saying.”
A few moments later, her bearing regained, Hathaway was asked if her sweep of the best supporting actress awards given by various award-giving bodies this season made her feel she was no longer an underdog.
She replied, “Never. I’m an actor, man. This is spectacular, but if you want to get realistic … you’re always looking for the next job. You always think at the end of one job, it doesn’t matter what’s happened before … no one’s going to hire me again. This evening, I do feel the respect of my peers, and I am going to ride that wave for as long as I can.”
The actress paid tribute to Hugh Jackman, lead actor in “Les Mis.” “Tom Hooper, our director, has gone on record as saying this film wouldn’t have happened if Hugh Jackman didn’t exist,” she said. “I know exactly why. Hugh is this magical alien combination of strength, soul, heart and artistry and fun.”
She continued: “It wasn’t hard work, but it was challenging. We looked to him every day, to his strength and his indefatigable spirit. He never once complained once and he was absolutely our rock.”
Jennifer Lawrence was her usual joking self. On tripping on her way up the stairs to accept the best actress trophy, Lawrence, who wore a gown with a voluminous skirt, cracked, “What do you mean, what happened? Look at my dress. I tried to walk up the stairs in this dress. That’s what happened. I think … they waxed the stairs.”
What went through her mind? Lawrence quipped, “A bad word that I can’t say that starts with ‘F.’ ”
She turned serious when asked about “Silver Linings Playbook,” in which she and Bradley Cooper play characters with mental illnesses.
“I don’t think that we’re going to stop until we get rid of the stigma of mental illness,” she said. “I know David (O. Russell, the film’s director whose son suffers from bipolar disorder) won’t, and I hope that this helps.”
The bearded trio of “Argo” producers—Ben Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov—traded cracks in front of the assembled journalists.
“When they gave us the trophies I was confident that we would win,” Affleck joked. “I didn’t second-guess, is this a prank?” Clooney cracked, “He (Affleck) did look at the envelope.” Heslov jested, “Even as I was giving the speech, I didn’t think we could win.”
On how cool it was to have US First Lady Michelle Obama announce the best-picture winner, Affleck joked again: “I was sort of hallucinating when that was happening … Honestly, I was just asking these two guys outside, ‘Was that Michelle Obama?’ The whole thing kind of alarmed me at the time, but in retrospect, the fact that it was the first lady was an enormous honor and the fact that she surrounded herself by service men and women was special and, I thought, appropriate.”
Complimented about being humble throughout the awards season despite the snub, Affleck said, “Yeah, forget that. No more humility!” Then he changed gears. “Honestly? I was disappointed … but when I look at the directors who weren’t nominated [either, for best director]—Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, Quentin Tarantino … these are all directors I admire enormously. It was a very tough year.”
Not anytime soon
Daniel Day-Lewis, who gave a humorous acceptance remarks as best actor, continued the light mood backstage. He claimed he couldn’t think of tackling another role like Abraham Lincoln anytime soon. “I need to have to lie down for a couple of years,” he said. “It’s really hard to imagine doing anything after this. I’m definitely out of character at this moment. If I slip back into it by mistake, you can do an intervention of some kind.”
Best-director winner Ang Lee, calm and composed as usual, said of “Life of Pi”: “I’m very happy that I got this and I share the excitement with all the Taiwanese people and the Chinese and Asian people everywhere.”
He added: “It’s a miracle that I could make this movie … I carried the anxiety for a very long time, for four years. It’s a philosophical book and an expensive movie, the worst combination, the most scary one. So coming in tonight, I just thought everything is good. This is better than good.”
For planet Earth
Tarantino took pride in being an “international” filmmaker. “I’m not an American filmmaker. I’m an American and I’m a filmmaker, but I make movies for the planet Earth,” he said.
Tarantino said all the controversy that “Django” ignited on the themes of racism and slavery actually worked in the film’s favor. “All that criticism that came out, it ended up being kind of a good thing because one of the things that I wanted to do was to actually start a conversation about slavery, about America’s role in it. I hope that continues for the next few years.”