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Reese Witherspoon and 'Mud' team backstage at the 2014 Spirit Awards

"Mud" writer/director Jeff Nichols, actress Reese Witherspoon, actor Tye Sheridan, actor Jacob Lofland, actress Bonnie Sturdivant and actor Matthew McConaughey at the 2014 Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif.
"Mud" writer/director Jeff Nichols, actress Reese Witherspoon, actor Tye Sheridan, actor Jacob Lofland, actress Bonnie Sturdivant and actor Matthew McConaughey at the 2014 Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif.WireImage

The 29th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards took place on March 1, 2014, at the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. Here is what these Spirit Award winner said backstage in the Spirit Awards press room.

MUD

Robert Altman Award

Did you have a primary rule to get this cast for “Mud” together?

Jeff Nichols (writer/director): Honestly, yes. They had to feel like they could come from this place. This place was very important to me. I grew up near this place. I know people form this place. And the last thing I wanted was to misrepresent this place.

And the beautiful thing about these actors is that they all fold into this environment. And that’s not something that they do naturally. That’s something that they work to do. They’re that good. And that was my only rule.

Reese, what was it about the “Mud” script that made you want to do the movie?

Reese Witherspoon (co-star): I was just really so thrilled. First, I read the script. And then I sat with Jeff [Nichols]. It was sort of “game over.” And then I was just haunted by the script. And then he called me and said, “I just want you to play this role.”

And I was so blown away by his previous films, particularly “Take Shelter.” And there are just so few people making stories about this area of America, just to echo Jeff’s sentiment, where I grew up. He just did it without any pretense, and just told the story straight from the heart. And to work with these incredible actors, these young people who blew me away with their sophistication of character and work ethic and just pure humanity. It was an exciting process.

To the young actors, how does it feel to get this big award at so young an age?

Tye Sheridan (co-star): It feels good. It’s just great to be a part of this film and to be a part of this cast that is also talented. Yeah, it feels good.

Jacob Lofland (co-star): It’s an amazing honor to be standing up here with these people, who are all so great. Jeff is the best writer/director I’ve ever met and probably ever will. It’s great.

Reese, you started out making independent films before you had big hits with major-studio films. And more recently, you’ve gone back to doing independent films. Did you get any resistance from your agent or manager about going back to doing independent films?

Witherspoon: All those rules that applied to things 15 years ago don’t apply anymore. I think some of the most exciting films that are in the marketplace are definitely independent films. As an actor, it’s a great opportunity to actually get to act. So that’s why I think you’re seeing more and more people gravitating and why that [Spirit Awards] tent is filled with fantastic actors. It’s fun getting back to what we really love to do.

For more info: Spirit Awards website

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