HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Today I am thankful for... actresses.
In other words it's a Thursday. Well, listen, I'm always thankful for actresses but now I finally have a tiny bit of time to say so. Can you believe I've held out until now to watch The Hollywood Report's Actress Roundtable? If you've already moved on I forgive you but I wanted to do it in one sitting and finally had the time. As you read this I'm probably on my way to feast with my besties but right now as I write, I'm pretending I'm settling in for a Thanksgiving dinner with (drumroll please) two-time Oscar winning ham Emma Thompson (who I just had cocktails with!), Julia Brockovich-Roberts who brought fish ("eat your fish, bitch!"), Lupita Nyong'o who provides the appetizer (to what we hope is an overflowing career o' plenty), Amy Adams who brought stuffing (she's in everything!), Oprah Winfrey (who paid all the grocery bills) and Octavia Spencer (who brought choc... no, too obvious! abort. abort.)
So let's begin...
00:01 THR, obviously proud of its successful newish Oscar tradition, tells us who they got this year. I love reading too much into copywriting on these things. For instance, in the montage introducing their performances, Oprah's character in The Butler gets two adjectives "disatisfied" and "proud" and Unofficial Roundtable Mascot Amy Adams in American Hustle gets "seductive" and Lupita is "sexually abused" but the other three are defined solely by their function: daughter, mother, author.
01:19 Scenes from a photoshoot -everyone robotically beautiful/composed. The sole significant movement is Julia Robert's hair magically lifting from the breeze of adulation.
01:42 All the actresses are introduced and do tiny little nods of there head ("yes, I am she") except Oprah who widens her eyes cartoonishly.
01:47 Best/Worst Piece of Advice. This shoud be fun.
02:51 Emma starts talking and suddenly everyone else goes out of focus behind her, which is basically how it always should be. She brings up her godfather - a multihyphenate writer/philosopher/gay man/director inspiration -- The Brit goddess gets the first laugh, incorporating a noise offstage into her bit. Seriously THR staff. They're recording in there!
Octavia: [mock shouting] "if it sounds like you're DOING A SCENE you're DOING A SCENE"
Emma: "imagine there's a fire in your dressing room. it takes your mind of Acting"
Oprah: "give yourself over to the character" (Amy & Lupita steal this one, repeat.)
It's worth noting that Oprah, who is an entertaining raconteu, does not take Octavia's advice and DOES A SCENE whenever she addresses the others veritably shouting at them. Years of Courting the Back All Rows as Ringleader have paid off but also: calm down, Oprah!
06:57 Julia bitches about the bitchy director Herbert Ross (who infamously hated her on Steel Magnolias) without naming him. Herbert to Julia during the middle of a scene:
Stop! Stop! Put me out of my misery. If you have any acting talent at all, now is the time to use it."
08:40 I wanna know what they just edited out by cutting to a photo montage again. Julia is shown placing her hand on Lupita shoulder. This is EXTREMELY awkward looking like something that would happen during a family portrait session at Olan Mills.
09:15 Oprah Enthusiasmic Interruptus Part Infinity. Emma Thompson name drops Sense & Sensibility and Oprah suddenly remembers her trivia. "You wrote! and won the Oscar for. I know I have the script on my..." (You're what? night stand? Kindle?) Octavia starts talking Fruitvale Station and Fangirl attacks again.
You werked that hospital, girl. You did it. You did it."
10:06 Octavia says she sometimes forgets that she won the Oscar. Oh pleez, girl. You did not. You did not.
11:29 Things you won't play? Emma "apart from the muff shot". Hee. Even her follow up serious answer is awesome. She talks about trope bland supporting wife characters and their sole function in the script being 'Please don't do that brave thing. Stay at home. The children need you!' I feel bad for the actresses seated at the table who've played stock characters when she says "I said no to all of them" And also I (and apparently Oprah) will be quoting Emma's next bit forever:
What the ding dong heck is going on?!?"
14:16 Amy wants women to support other womezzzzzzzzzzzzz. (Seriously, she's a good actress but why does she get invited to these things every year?)
15:01 Oprah says she put her face in a bowl of macaroni and cheese after Beloved's failure. What does this even mean? I have never heard this idiom before. WHAT THE DING DONG HECK IS GOING ON?
16:00 Oprah says she did 52 interviews in one day at The Butler junket and it was her goal to make each one more interesting. (I wish ______ who I recently interviewed had had that goal.)
18:53 My least favorite subject: Actresses talking about abandoning their art to have kids and a life. Don't they know that WE OWN THEM. (kidding... sort of)
20:08 Says she's never been away from her children and talks about how hard it was to decide to August: Osage County. Oh pleeze, girl. Oklahoma is not Romania. It's a 2 hour flight.
But props where props are due. Julia is really awesome in this Roundtable, every story being interesting. I love that she describes watching August: Osage County the play as 'watching surgery it was so exacting and precise'. Yes, that!
22:38 Julia on what she found comforting about finally working with Meryl Streep.
She works her ass off. It is not a magic trick. She does not just show up and be brilliant.
23:22 Lupita has to be addressed before she'll speak in this roundtable. That's what you get by shaming her and making her sit on the floor when everyone else gets a seat, THR! "It felt ordained. Like it was supposed to happen. And it was supposed to happen then" Lupita mentions Patricia Norris (Costume Designer) and wearing real slave garb. The last ingredient to a performance is magic. You have to let go...
Emma listens intently to this.
26:00 Octavia talks about her big circle of friends from The Help. Since today is Thanksgiving it's worth noting that she spent her 2011 turkey day with Viola and her 2012 turkey day with Emma (Stone). The actresses seem enthused about Octavia's next role as "Aunt Honey" in a James Brown biopic.
28:22 Really cute moment when Lupita talks about being a PA on The Constant Gardener and escorting Ralph Fiennes around. Julia talks about the beautiful girl that's always on a set somewhere on a walkie talkie . "You were that girl!"
29:00 Octavia talks about CAA. She was so green when she arrived in LA she pronounced it "caw". Octavia talks about not having children. I do find this topic fascinating with actresses because the ones who don't have children rarely speak about this decision.
31:45 Emma Thompson is so perfect. She skewers the whole question about personal sacrifices calls it obscene given the lives these six actresses are living. So true. A Voice of (Hilarious) Reason.
34:00 Oprah talks about fear of being "rusty" from not having acted in so long.
36:00 Awkward edit -- perhaps to include more of Lupita -- talking about the capacity for joy for people who've experienced great sorrow.
37:00 Another awkward edit. I think they're cutting a lot out to equalize the conversation. This is the most interesting thing Amy Adams has said that "David O. Russell is the only method director" and absorbs the mood of the picture he's working on. After working with him on The Fighter "I can act in a hurricane now"... I'm seeing American Hustle this weekend and this bit has me excited for it since she's saying it's "the worst I've ever felt playing a character" Hmmm.
Oprah: You are the woman to have at a dinner party.
Emma: You can hire me for a small fee."
40:30 They told Emma Thompson her new hair for Saving Mr Banks would make her look like Annette Bening so she was excited because The Bening always looks great but then she ended up looking like a sheep. "Now that was a personal sacrifice!" she riffs, bringing it back around to the earlier question to peels of laughter.
41:00 Any roles they still want to play?
Julia: I'm good. I don't want to be greedy.
Amy: Wants to do a musical on Broadway.
I love this question so much but the actresses get so into warning Amy away from theater (!) that the question derails.
45:34 GAYLE REFERENCE (!) from Oprah. Whenever she name-drops Gayle I think of Kathy Griffin mocking her shouting out "Gayyyy--yyyyle!"
47:35 Octavia talks about loving mystery and detective stuff hence "Murder She Wrote"
49:35 Talking about diversity in art and literature and film and the question sort of shifts to the African-American representation without actually naming it as so. Oprah gets thanked for her contributions. Lupita gets tearful talking about feeling humbled to be considered a peer and talks about how influential The Color Purple was and what it meant to her as a child.
Does she want to emulate any specific career? No.
My path along everyone else's.
The actresses get super tearful at this! Beautiful ending!
THE FULL HOUR VIDEO
If you aren't already talked out on this topic (which everyone seems to have watched instantly -- where do y'all find these empty full hours in your day?) sound off in the comments.