The 2014 Oscar Nominees Luncheon took place Feb. 10 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. Nominees gathered to have lunch, pose for photos, receive their official Academy Award nomination certificate, and do interviews. (The 86th annual Oscar ceremony takes place March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. ABC has the live U.S. telecast of the show at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST.) Here is what this Oscar nominee said when doing a brief press conference interview in the Oscar Nominees Luncheon’s press room.
Can you talk about the experience of making “Gravity”?
I would love to. It was probably one of the most beautiful experiences I ever had, couple with I was living in the most beautiful place — Richmond [in England] — and I was able to sort of leave that heaven and go to a black soundstage for four months, working with the nicest group of people, the kindest, most patient group of people I’ve ever worked with.
When they all had a tremendous amount riding on them because of new technology and unknown waters. They didn’t know if I could do what they needed. I didn’t know if they could give me what I needed. It should have been a very stressful situation, but every single day was so supportive and kind. So I had probably one of the best filming experiences I ever had when I did the film.
Did you know “Gravity” director/writer/producer Alfonso Cuarón before you made “Gravity” with him? What made you trust Alfonso Cuarón to direct you in “Gravity”?
I was very familiar with Alfonso’s work. I had watched him for so many years, and longed to work with him. I honestly thought that never in a million years that I would be able to work with him. There was always a joke in our office every time we had a project: “Do you think we should send it to Alfonso Cuarón?” We knew he only did his own material.
I trusted 100 percent, because you had the body of his work as proof. We didn’t know what we were making, really. It was unknown territory. We kept going back to, “Look at the work that he’s done so far — thematically, visually, emotionally.” It wasn’t supposed to be a big blockbuster film. It was sort of an avant-garde, esoteric, existential film about loss and adversity and space.
So being on that journey with someone you know you could trust a thousand percent made it so easy to go into the day, not having any idea if it was going to work, how you were going to physically hold up, how you were going to emotionally hold up, but you knew you had Alfonso there, so you knew you were in a great place. So whether the film worked or not, I don’t think it crossed anyone’s mind. It didn’t cross mine, but I trusted him explicitly.
What were you feeling when you watched “Gravity” for the first time? Were you at the edge of your seat, like most people were?
Normally, we don’t, because I think you’ve seen so much of it by the time we’ve seen the film, but George [Clooney] and I saw nothing. We saw a black box with wires and camera equipment. Thematically, we knew how emotional the story was on the page, but we didn’t know what it was going to look like.
So we didn’t have that experience until we saw the whole thing together in Venice [at the 2013 Venice Film Festival in Italy], with the music, with all the wires removed, with all the ambience and all the subtleties and all the layering. You see the movie for the third time, and you see something in the background that you didn’t see.
And he meant for that experience to be exactly that: an emotional and visceral experience for the moviegoer. He wanted it to be so that at one point in the film, you turn the perspective of the camera so that you can step on board. And I think everyone who had the film was having it because of something very personal in their own lives. And that’s exactly what he wanted.
He [Alfonso Cuarón] didn’t want to placate the audience. He wanted to give them sort of what you get when you read a book. You bring your own emotions, your own visuals, you own imagination to it. And I think that was incredibly brave on his part.
He so trusted the viewer to be able to do that. It was just his job to figure out how to visually make that moment so everyone could just step aboard. That’s the way you were supposed to feel, and that’s exactly what he was going for.
For more info: Academy Awards website
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