The 70th annual Golden Globe Awards took place on Jan. 13, 2013, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. Here is what this Golden Globe winner said backstage in the Golden Globe Awards press room.
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
What is your response to the controversy over ‘Zero Dark Thirty”?
For me, being involved in a film that creates a conversation is really wonderful. And, of course, in a conversation, there will be controversy, because a great filmmaker like [“Zero Dark Thirty” director] Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t put her point of view on a film. She demands that the audience participate.
It ends with an unanswered question, “Where do you want to go?” And by leaving the question unanswered, she’s starting the conversation. Everyone at home now needs to talk about “Where have we been and where do we go from here?”
And, for me, I see films as art. I don’t see films as entertainment. If a piece of art can do that, then I think it’s done its job.
Your “Zero Dark Thirty” character Maya is based on a real CIA operative. What do you hope is the future for the real-life Maya?
This is purely speculation because I have never met Maya. I know there was an article in the Washington Post about Maya, where [the Washington Post reporter] talked to her colleagues. But what I would hope for Maya is that she gets the respect of her colleagues and superiors in the CIA and they don’t all try to take credit for her work.
And I hope she can go to any station she wants in the world. In our film, she did not ask for Islamabad. So I hope she goes to Paris or something.
What does winning this award mean to you?
It’s a wonderful thing because I wanted to be an actress since I was a little girl, since I realized that it was a job. And I didn’t go straight to Hollywood when I was 7 years old. I had a very normal childhood.
And after high school, I went and trained at Juilliard and did a lot of theater. And I did a lot of crazy jobs, guest spots of TV shows, a lot of theater jobs. One time someone asked me if I wanted to make a hundred bucks, and I put a Mickey Mouse costume on, and I showed up at a little girl’s birthday party, and I said, “Hello, it’s Mickey Mouse.” I really worked hard.
And I thought I was cursed for a while, because even when I thought I got my big break, my movies kept getting stalled. And so to have the past two years … I just had [my first] movie in the movie theaters two years ago. And to see what’s happened in the past two years, it really does fulfill a childhood dream that I’ve had my whole life.
Because of last year, a director like Kathryn Bigelow will call me on the phone and ask me to be in her movie. Who’s going to call me this year? I mean, it’s really exciting.
You’re gotten an Oscar nomination for Best Actress or “Zero Dark Thirty.” Do you want to win?
I think every actor who has struggled in their work would love at some point to be acknowledged for it. But hopefully, in this career, I’m a marathon runner. I want to be working when I’m 80 years old.
I look at Vanessa Redgrave, and I think, “God what an amazing woman.” So for me, of course, every support encouragement helps you and encourages you to do more vulnerable, brave, difficult roles. But I’m a marathon roles.
Did you see Jodie Foster’s speech tonight?
Yes. It was incredible. I was in tears at her speech.
What do you think she was trying to relate in that speech?
Oh gosh, I don’t know what she was trying to relate, but I know what I took from the speech. As an actress, I struggle a lot with the idea of privacy and what it means to be an actress in this day and age with the Internet, where so many people Twitter pictures of themselves. They allow people into their private lives.
For me, a lot of the actors who I respect and admire and whose careers I strive for are the ones who work very hard to keep their privacy, like Jodie Foster, like Isabelle Huppert in France. And I think when an actor is able to do that, the audience is more willing to accept them in different roles.
If they see too much into your personal life — and I’m guilty of this as an audience member — I believe you want to typecast an actor. Because our job is to transform into all different types of characters, I believe it is my job to stay as private as possible, so I really connected to that part of her speech.
You haven’t been shy about saying that you were disappointed that Kathryn Bigelow didn’t get an Oscar nomination for Best Director for “Zero Dark Thirty.”
It was a bittersweet Thursday for me. I was on an airplane, and when I woke up, I realized that the news had been announced, because we were about to land, and I knew. Kathryn Bigelow came over to me and said, “Congratulations, you got nominated for an Oscar.”
And I was so excited that I wanted to scream and yell, but then I was afraid I was going to get duct taped to my seat by some air marshal. So I held it in. And then I said, “But what about you?” And she said, “No, no, we’re celebrating you.”
And to be in that position, I could not have done what I did without Kathryn Bigelow. So much of my performance is inspired from her and the trust that she gave me when she gave me the responsibility of this role. So it was a difficult moment for me. However, by recognizing the film with a Best Picture nomination, we’re recognizing Kathryn Bigelow, because she is our quarterback.
Did you relate to Maya’s single-mindedness?
Yeah. I found it really interesting when approaching the character of Maya. I think it takes fanatical behavior to capture a fanatic. And so I tried to capture that.
For me, Maya is like a computer. She’s the smartest person in the room. She’s probably always the smartest person in the room, even when she was a little girl. And what does that mean? It probably means that you’re not the most fun person to be around.
Maya has difficulty making friends because there is this single-mindedness, this drive. And when someone’s wrong, she lets them know. That’s what I connected with her.
How do you select the roles that you take?
So much [of the decisions] for me is with the script and the director. And also I am really drawn to characters that I’ve never played. I was nominated last year for Celia Foote in “The Help.” And you look at that, and you look at Maya, and it’s so completely different. But these are both women I absolutely love and admire, these characters.
And I think because I will always try to challenge myself and find something I’ve never done before, it doesn’t mean I’ll do it right. I could fail miserably. But I think because of that, perhaps it has surprised people. I don’t know what the recipe is. I just know I’ve been very, very lucky to work with incredible filmmakers and actors that always lift me up.
Did you ever try to meet the real-life Maya?
No, because Maya works undercover, it would have been very dangerous. Recently, there was [an article] on the cover of LA Times magazine about a CIA agent who’s going to jail for three years for talking to a reporter about waterboarding. So if I were to have met her, I would have put her in danger of going to prison.
I would not like to meet her, because if someone found out, she would go to jail. It’s a really difficult time right now. She’s an undercover agent who’s really good at her job. I feel safer knowing that she’s out there taking care of us.
Can you talk some more about Kathryn Bigelow’s reaction not getting an Oscar nomination for Best Director for “Zero Dark Thirty”?
It was really difficult for me to celebrate the second I found out that she wasn’t nominated. I really felt like a dart went straight into my heart. She was like, “No, no, I don’t want to talk about it. We got a nomination for Best Picture.”
She was just focusing on the positive. She’s very generous. There’s not a bitter, angry bone in her body.
The reason why as an actor you feel free to just really try things and go out there is because you always know you have a protector in Kathryn. Even at the moment she told me, she was protecting me from the sadness that she didn’t get nominated. Even though I still felt it, she was trying to prevent it, because that’s the woman she is.
For more info: Golden Globe Awards website
RELATED LINKS ON EXAMINER.COM: