The 85th annual Academy Awards took place on Feb. 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Here is what this Oscar winner said backstage in the Academy Awards press room.
Best Supporting Actress
It was so sweet how you mentioned your husband in your acceptance speech. Can you talk a little bit how your life has changed since meeting him and how he supports you?
He has just made everything better and clearer and more real. And that’s all I’m going to say.
At the end of this crazy, successful run of the awards season, are you willing to relinquish your underdog status officially?
Officially, never. I’m an actor, man. I mean, this is spectacular, but if you want to get realistic with it — and thank you very much for bringing me back down to Earth — you’re always looking for the next job. You always think at the end of one, “It doesn’t matter what’s happened before, no one’s going to hire me again.” So I do feel this evening the respect of my peers, and I am going to ride that wave for as long as I can, but I do also have a practical approach to acting, which is “Got to work, got to work, got to work.”
When you revisit the (“Les Misérables”) film and see that scene with you performing “I Dreamed a Dream,” are you ever sort of kind of impressed by yourself like, “Oh, my God, I was really good”?
I’m impressed by the work around me. I’m impressed by my makeup. I’m impressed by my costume. I’m impressed by the haircut and the set and the score and the song, but no, all I can hear is all of the notes that I didn’t quite hit. But maybe I’ll get over it some day.
You mentioned Hugh Jackman in your acceptance speech. Can you tell us how he inspired you in this film?
Oh, my goodness. Well, Tom Hooper, our director, has gone on record as saying this film wouldn’t have happened if Hugh Jackman didn’t exist. And I know exactly why he says that. Hugh is this magical alien combination of strength and soul and heart and artistry and fun. And if you think about it, I mean, not to get serious, but we do live in a world that can tend toward the cynical, and to have someone in a film like this where it’s inherent to the film’s success that you believe in the goodness of the central character, and that someone like Hugh exists who has that goodness within him, it made the film soar.
And we all knew that. We are not coal miners. It wasn’t hard work, but it was challenging. And we looked to him every day and to his strength and to his indefatigable spirit. He never complained once. He did as many takes as need be, and he was absolutely our rock and our inspiration through everything and to me personally.
How did your role in “Les Misérables” change you as an actress and as a person?
I’ve done films before where I’ve played real people. And I’m thinking real people, but a character, you know what I mean, a character based on a real situation. And I’m thinking specifically of “Rachel Getting Married,” where I played a recovering addict who was in the ascent of her life of her recovery. And though it was difficult, it was painful, she was in a better place than she had been.
Playing Fantine, having to connect with the darkness of life, and I think maybe more to the point, the unnecessary suffering that human beings can inflict on each other, I would have loved to have gone home and forgotten about that every day, but you just can’t because it exists. And it exists for millions of men and women throughout the world. I think this film changed me because it made me more compassionate and more aware.
You said, “It came true,” when you started your speech. What is “it”? Did you have a special wish or what?
I had a dream, and it came true. And that can happen. And that’s wonderful. And so, that was all I was saying was that it can and it did. Excuse me. That’s not articulate.
Can you describe the team that gets you ready for all the events up to the Oscars?
I am so glad you asked because I’m kidnapping them, and I’m taking them away next week to say thank you for everything that they do. They are the most loving, supportive, generous, calm people, and I don’t know how they are able to do the work that they can with me going through all the craziness that I have and processing that.
I’ve worked with Kate Lee, a makeup artist. Adir Abergel for, I think, the past six or seven years. Rachel Zoe for the past seven or eight years. And for the past two to three years, I have worked with Jill Lincoln, who has come on to the Rachel Zoe Incorporated team.
We all really know each other. We are friends. We hang out outside of this. We are there for each other in life. We pull for each other. We’ve been to each other’s … well, they have been to my wedding. I’m going to go to theirs. And I don’t know how to describe it except that it does feel different.
It doesn’t feel like we are all just doing a job and we are brought together through happenstance and employment, but we are actually invested in each other’s futures and present. And I’m so grateful that I have such talented people working on my mug.
You are very open with your emotions. You are really earnest and professional, and people sometimes tease you about that. How did you not let that get to you and stay true to yourself?
It does get to me, but you have to remember in life that there’s a positive to every negative and a negative to every positive. And I’m going to go there. The miracle of the universe is that, as far as they know, there’s 51 percent matter versus 49 percent antimatter. Things tip in the scale of the positive. And so, that is what I focus on.
The fact that it all comes home, I live my life with love. I live my life with compassion. I live my life hoping the best for absolutely everyone no matter how they feel about me. And when you live that way, it’s amazing how beautiful everyday can be.
For more info: Academy Awards website
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