Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Live Blog: The Hollywood Reporter Actress Roundtable 2010

The actual hour-long Hollywood Reporter video of the six actresses who grace their cover: Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, Hilary Swank, Natalie Portman and Helena Bonham-Carter. Here's how it breaks down if you don't have a full hour to watch (video at bottom of post). Unfortunately you can't "scroll" so the time stamps are useless as I type away.

0:01 Helena talks about first day-i-tis. Never thinks she can do it. I can't act!
1:30 Amy talks about being unemployed and feeling sorry for herself (interesting bit... both sad and funny) and the long time period where she considered giving up. But now that she's successful, what doesn't she like about her career?
Amy: I feel very vulnerable. I don't like it at all. You're very subject to other people's opinions. You know when it doesn't go well. 
Hilary: We know when it doesn't go well. We don't need to be beat over the head with it.

5:00 Swank talks about trying and even if you fail, always try your hardest. Ah platitudes! I didn't get enough of 'em on election night.
6:48 Annette is asked about her input into making The Kids Are All Right more of a comedy than it originally started as...
Annette: I just didn't want it to be earnest. But she's (Lisa Cholodenko) also kind of too generous when she talks about me and my contributions.
9:00 Helena interrupts to talk about the vibrator scene (but says she hasn't seen the movie).
10:30 Hilary complains that she can't find good comedies. Uhnnh, you're not a comic actress. We're 10 minutes in and Nicole has said NOTHING. I need Nicki. But she was like this at the Margot at the Wedding press conference I attended, too. She is kind of robotic until directly addressed. I say that with the utmost love but it's like she's a robot until the movie camera is on or the press cameras are off. It's... odd.
12:00 Natalie Portman calls the Black Swan screenplay "a blueprint." and reveals that she and Darren Aronofsky have been planning to make the movie for the past 9 years (!) and credits Nicole with the following great career advice...

Natalie: Nicole said it to me a long time ago when we were doing Cold Mountain. 'Always choose by director. You never know how the movie is going to turn out but you're guaranteed an interesting experience.' I've always remembered that.
Oh bless you, Nicole. We knew this about you already. Strangely, Nicole hasn't seen Black Swan.

16:00 Nicole speaks! She lists the plentiful injuries she got on Moulin Rouge! after the other actresses keep egging her on. The actresses discuss moments when you should say no, or call it a night, but you keep going. The knee injury, which took two years to recover from, happened at 3 AM.
Nicole: When you're so in the role, it's almost like a high. It's like a drug. There's no way I was going to stop.
Oh, we knew this about her, too.
18:00 Amy follows that up with a story about Leap Year. No really.

Nicole's "what was that?" love affair.
19:00 Nicole is praised again about something from outside this conversation (clearly the woman is more animated when she's not doing press) and asked if she's ever had conflict with a director. She seems confused by the question (bless) and says instead
Nicole: It's like a love affair for a certain period of time and then I walk away and go 'what was that?!?'
...which gets a big laugh from the other five. I know people think I'm undiscerning when it comes to Kidman but the truth is I deeply dig actresses who are auteurists at heart. Truth: They're always the most interesting ones.

Annette "Balance" Bening
20:00 Unfortunately then she starts talking about not feeling the same pull to work anymore. Damnit! Thankfully, Annette amends this, explaining that even though she went through that once she had children, the desire to work returns and there is something about the acting process that fulfills you in a way that you can't get elsewhere. Having a balanced life "sounds good" but...
Annette: Creativity is really about excess and when you want to make something there's a kind of obsession that has to come with it -- in a healthy way, in a way that is intoxicating. You're engulfed by something.
(Are you listening Michelle Pfeiffer? Come Back to the Five and Dime Michelle Pfeiffer, Michelle Pfeiffer.) She then goes on to reveal that she wanted the Debra Winger role in The Sheltering Sky.

25:00 Hilary refuses to rest on her laurels (would that be two Oscars?) and reveals a knowledge of writers and seeks out screenplays that aren't even sent to her. Good for her (I'm not saying that facetiously.) Talks about a part she didn't get and Annette teases her about it.
26:00 Nicole Kidman has seen Star Trek. She bought a ticket and everything (?). Hilary doesn't like science fiction. (Is that distaste a post-The Core problem? She doesn't say.)

Amy exfoliates
28:00 Amy vows to spend time with her daughter instead of doing movies -- damn you, infant! KIDDING! please no one bite my head off though infants have taken many of the great actresses away from us. And this conversation is further proof. (Sigh)
29:00 Nicole considered not making Rabbit Hole after having Sunday and struggling for financing. This part is a snooze fest.

31:00 Hilary and Amy talk about not doing certain roles and how it's disrespectful to the actor who did it to talk about roles you wanted or turned down. Natalie says that if directors vacillate about who to cast it's not a good sign "never a good sign" actually. It shows they don't know what they want. Hilary vaguely claims to have been"coerced" into certain roles. By whom? Are we talking about The Core again? Let it go!
32:00 Amy reveals panic about super tight close-ups and wondering if she exfoliated properly. I hate those too, Amy! But for different reasons. I like to see like hair, shoulders, hands. I want to see how the actor uses their body, not just their eyes nose and maybe top lip.

Helena continually cracks Natalie up.

33:00 INTERESTING. Now we're getting into it. Helena Bonham-Carter talks about her discomfort with Lars Von Trier (!)..."but I didn't realize this man was a visionary". Admits she turned down Breaking the Waves. Natalie Portman is very excited about this reveal. Nicole says it's one of her favorite films (of course it is!) which eggs Helena on in the story. HBC thinks it was really weird that Emily Watson told everyone (she did? I don't remember this) that Helena had turned it down  'because that film made her!'

35:00 Helena talks about her 'late bloomer' personality and that she's finally comfortable with her sexuality. 'There were lots of parts I was just not ready for.' This all makes me wonder how the hell she got through The Wings of the Dove (1997) in which she is freakishly perfect and totally erotic, too. And for which she won the Oscar (SHHHHHhhhhh. Let me live in my fantasy world where deserving things happen.)
36:00 Nicole says she still e-mails Lars Von Trier (!) but agrees that he can be mean. The moderator brings up The Five Obstructions as an interesting portrait of Lars. Nicole "I don't need to see that. I worked with him."

38:00 Helena discusses Tim Burton at length but tells a great story about befriending a focus puller on Sweeney Todd who totally helped her get more takes since Tim wouldn't give them too her.
43:00 I am totally losing focus now as The Bening discusses stage vs screen.
45:00 Interesting... she's giving a lot of credit to Milos Forman for helping her to understand film acting. Funny that she brings this up because I was just watching Valmont again the other day and she is really quite fantastic in it and its' about a 180 from Glenn Close's interpretation of the same role.

The Bening as the evil Merquise de Merteuil
Watching them back to back would surely remind us that no two actors will give you the same thing. Ever. (Now, admittedly the cast, director and screenplay are different, too. But still. They are SO different within the exact same story / character.)

The Bening kicks the story up a notch by imitating Forman's directions in his voice.
47:00 Okay now I love Milos Forman more than I ever have in my life. Natalie loves Annette's story and shares her own (also in Forman's voice from her time with him on Goya's Ghost)
Natalie: You're acting like you're in -- like this is a bad movie. This is not a bad movie. This is a good movie.
Annette: That is brilliant
48:00 Nicole tells a Jane Campion story! No way. Okay this is getting better and better. It's a story about a Jane Campion short she pulled out of because she didn't want to wear a shower cap OR kiss a girl. 'I was 14. I wanted to kiss boys!' Hahaha.
50:00 Amy Adams calls the moderator on his "baiting" when he is talking about movies being only made for young boys now. None of them take the bait except Hilary....
51:00 ...who weirdly goes on a bizarre tangent blaming critics (!) for the failure of dramas. Yeah, that's right. Ticket buyers totally listen to unemployed critics. 'Critics don't like linear storytelling anymore!' They don't? This is news to me.

52:00 Nicole and Helena both praise HBO and TV in general (?) Kidman says she's doing something for HBO. She is? I so cannot keep up with upcoming movie news.
54:00 Amy hates that being an actress means you're supposed to also be a model. Helena tells her she doesn't have to pretend to be a model. 'Wear whatever you like. You'll get criticized for it but..." Helena would know.
56:00 Natalie explains that she was lucky to finish high school before the internet explosion of actors having no privacy. She can't imagine what the famous teens go through now. Nicole says she wishes she had been a director instead of an actress (!)
58:00 Annette talks about the "crazy intimacy" of acting and goes on and on and on and on some more about how acting really has very little to do with the acoutrements of fame and red carpets and whatnot. Interesting stuff if I weren't already exhausted and since i can't rewind, I can't quote anymore.

Here's the whole interview if you have the hour.

Some armchair possibly inaccurate observations:

  • Helena Bonham-Carter is very funny.
  • Hilary and Annette both talk with their hands a lot .
  • Nicole & Natalie are both shy but not inattentive
  • Amy Adams doesn't want to be in this room at all. ( But hey, she's got an infant daughter. She's justifiably distracted. We'll cut her some slack.)
I say goodbye to these six lovely ladies for now.

Related reading:


    cinephile said...

    Annette Bening's mocking of Amy Adams turning down a role because of her infant child was very funny... Bening obviously isn't the "OMG I'm in character! I can't care for my child now!" actress type, as opposed to Adams or Kidman.

    Dean said...

    I just imagine Annette at any point verbally assaulting Hilary. So awesomely awkward!

    James T said...

    Pretty enjoyable roundtable!

    And your commentary was great/hilarious!

    When Swank said she has been forced into a film I made the totally Nathaniel-like thought "Who would force you to be in their movie?" :p

    And I was soo ready to hear her say "I would like to talk about Nathaniel Rogers!"

    Kind of like Goldie in Death Becomes Her ;)

    I love how it's obvious Annette is the also-stage actress. Her face is always so expressive!

    "She would have sex with anything" lol. Helena is a conservative! Who would have thought? :p

    James T said...

    And it just occured to me that they didn't talk about Oscars! At all!

    On the one hand it's refreshing to watch a conversation amongs actors that focuses on their art. On the other hand, "combining family and career" is like the oldest question since "why can't I eat that fruit?". Cause it's forbidden, Eve. Move on!

    I'd like to know what Nicole thinks about the Academy ignoring her for so long. Or if Annette cares about getting an Oscar (OK maybe that's a bit naive but cool answers can come from any question) or whatever, you know?

    Derreck said...

    I loved watching it and all the different personalities. Bening just oozes that veteran/permanent lead actress kind of vibe. It seems like she's been through it all and pretty much can relate to whatever these girls are talking about.

    Question: What the hell could Nicole and Lars be discussing in those e-mails? She ditched Mandalay (apparently for good reason, but she said that she was going to commit to more Lars films).
    Plus, she was pretty much defensive about him. oh, that Nicole and her directors. I love that she gave that advice to Natalie on choosing directors...

    (side-note, i know i've only watched Cold Mountain once, but i have no memory of Natalie in it.)

    and HBC should really do more interviews with little nuggets like that and personality to boot.

    and is it me or does Amy Adams seem out of place?

    (and another side-note, Nicole still looks ten times better with red hair. She worked the blonde good enough though.)

    NATHANIEL R said...

    James T -- i love that they didn't talk about the Oscars! but there were only two previous winners at the table so maybe that's why?

    good point about hte ancient questions.

    Derreck -- i know. i'm dying to know what Lars & Nicole talk about.

    Tony said...

    Helena is so fun in this interview. And I really enjoyed what Annette and Nicole had to say. And I agree with wanting to know what those emails between Nicole and Lars look like. I could only imagine. Or I could settle with them just doing another film together.

    Swank seemed to be trying too hard with her answers, but maybe that's just me.

    Also, Nathaniel, the HBO project that Nicole was alluding to was Hemingway & Gellhorn. It costars Clive Owen, is directed by Phillip Kaufman and starts filming in February. How could you not know this?! ;)

    Rose said...

    I always forget how sexy The Bening's voice is now. Like woah.

    Hilary definitely seems to be trying too hard. She just doesn't quite "mesh" with the group.

    Also loving the new banner - anything with Norma is good in my book!

    Anonymous said...

    My favorite part is when Swank talks about the movie she wanted that Amy Adams was rumored to then be attached to that I think Rachel McAdams got. AMAZINGLY awkward.

    Also, I love Amy Adams only because of this interview because she is so clearly OVER it.

    NicksFlickPicks said...

    Well, I of course loved the whole thing, even the subjects that have been revisited ad infinitum. The only participant I found embarrassing was the main moderator, the one sitting on the left, who kept asking the banal questions we've heard before or else the really insensitive ones:

    "What is your biggest regret?" (Why would they tell you their biggest regret?)
    "What do you think about the inarguable fact that fewer good movies are made anymore?" (fannnntastic when Helena Bonham Carter calls him on the rudeness of that, and Natalie, not for the first time, is trying not to giggle about how lame he is)
    "What did you feel about yourself when you were unemployed?"
    "What role did you try really hard to get but then not get?"
    "Let me name-drop the late Anthony Minghella, whom several of you worked with and know much better than I did, and then blow right past it after making at least two of you gratuitously sad."

    I actually thought the actors were remarkably tactful and sometimes terrifically accommodating and responsive with pretty personal anecdotes, though I think this almost all comes down to their desire to communicate with each other. I love watching HBC in the Mo'Nique role from last year, the personality train who also knows What Is Up. I really like all six of these women's personalities, however inevitably performed in scenarios like this (yes, all six), and loved the convo best when they addressed or pushed each other. "This is why I turned down that great part you'd have killed for." "No, honey, you don't have to be a model." "Thank you so much for telling me to choose by director." Love this stuff.

    Anonymous said...


    Anonymous said...

    I want to be friends with Helena Bonham Carter.

    Ian C. said...

    Does anyone know if the full video of the actress roundtable from last year was ever released? All I was able to find were brief, one-minute clips from the interview, but I am DYING to see the whole thing...does it still exist online anywhere? Thanks!

    Muzica Noua said...

    Just like James T , I`m very surprised that they hadn`t talked about Oscars. This is something to remember.

    Glenn said...

    Helena is a hoot! Nicole and Annette were very insightful and I actually think Hilary had some valuable stuff to say since, quite obviously, she's quite aware of her career's trajectory and that she's made a lot of crap. In fact, I like that all of them freely admit to making some not so good movies.

    I think my favourite part, however, was... well, two parts

    a) Nicole telling Helena that Breaking the Waves wouldn't have been as good with her in it and that she emails Lars. Amazing.

    b) The Milos Forman impersonations!

    Nat, Nicole probably hasn't seen Black Swan because it's not out anywhere yet. Right? That's better than Carter not having seen The Kids are All Right!

    Lara said...

    Glenn, in Helena's defence The Kids Are Alright opened just last week here in the UK. So unless she's send screeners she didn't have the chance to see it yet.

    I need to find an hour to watch that video!

    cal roth said...

    You know, I've seen Valmont again recently and I am starting to be warmed up by the Bening. Of course Frears's movie ia way way way better, but she is really very good, at least much better than Close.

    I love that she is playing low profile, being a nice veteran actress. She was too typecast in those bitch-diva roles, and mayve that affected how people looked at her - you're to blame, Nat!

    I really wish Kidman had done that Wong Kar-Wai project! That would made her the closest thing to Juliette Binoche Hollywood had ever produced.

    Unknown said...

    4 of them are Gemini
    2 of them are Leo

    interesting combination :)

    It seems that the Leos here have been much more unfortunate when it comes to work;

    Gemini is so poorly represented in the Lead Actress Winner category, but I'm quite sure the winner this year is going to be Gemini.

    Leigh said...

    NAT -- Do you think the film Nicole could possibly direct is The Danish Girl. That would be freaking insane if she starred and directed that?
    Is Lasse Hallstrom confirmed for that? Or maybe Little Bee...

    Great interview. HBC is very funny. Natalie Portman is stunning as always. Loved her Milos Forman impression and the advice Nic gave her

    NATHANIEL R said...

    Leigh -- yeah the Milos thing was great although "this is not a bad movie. this is a good movie" is especially funny when you consider what people thought of the actual movie when it was released.

    NATHANIEL R said...

    James T -- that Death Becomes Her moment you referenced in relation to Swank and me had me laughing so hard here on my couch. I would be so MORTIFIED if i thought all the actresses i write about regularly (whether it's to drool on or condemn) were actually reading.

    Yavor -- huh. oh dear. now you've given me another idea for posts that will take me years to write. curse you! ;)

    Kurtis O said...

    God I loved this. And thank you for offering this commentary. At around the 33-minute mark, I made the mistake of clicking on the timeline, and was forced to start over at the beginning -- which I def. didn't have the time to do.

    Filme Online Gratis said...

    I imagine me in the middle of these girls , like a judge .

    Unknown said...

    well... I happen to have a table with the star signs of all Oscar Lead Actress/Actor + Director winners LOL

    if you need it, just holler.

    NATHANIEL R said...

    this is me hollerin' filmexperience (at) gmail (dot) com


    jeff said...

    I don't think Kidman meant that she would direct in the near future, just like she would have liked to be a director if she had the temperament for that job. For me I'm glad she's an actor !

    cal roth said...

    I want to see the star signs, too, plz? calebroth (at) lycos (dot) com

    Rys said...

    No Hilary/Annette rivalry ish? That's all I wanted to hear/read about in this panel. Every time Annette has Oscar hopes cooking, there's Hilary ready and willing to take some of that thunder away. But it's not gonna work this year, Hils! LOL!!

    MelissaLee said...

    Bening - Smart, funny, articulate and so clearly the veteran in the room. I really liked the majority of what she had to say.

    Kidman - Shy, sometimes she looked a bit bored, but when she did speak, her persepective was interesting. I know Nicole is often called 'cold' but it comes off to me as just more hesitant and someone who chooses their words wisely.

    Portman - I know she went to Harvard, but I wish someone would coach her on how to give interviews. She always comes off as rather vapid and not very intelligent ("skinny girls and models are just sad")

    Swank - Kind of reminds me of someone who talks to hear themselves talk, but she had some interesting things to say. She seems like a bit of a blame-shifter (in terms of her failures).

    Adams - She seemed rather bored and like she would rather be elsewhere. She didn't say too much.

    Helena - So hilarious! I figured that she would be funny, but she was funnier than I imagined and very quirky but in a totally endearing way.

    Stella said...

    But when Amy Adams DID speak it was oh so charming.

    And yeah, Natalie Portman has to stop that valley girl thing she's got going on.

    Kokolo said...

    The infant can have Adams, never been a fan. :P
    But Nicole - OMG I love that woman, she doesn't talk much but when she does it's very smart. (isn't it well known that she's incredibly shy???)
    And Natalie is so damn lovable and cute, and gorgeous, and that smile of hers makes me melt.

    james said...

    How about Kidman's comment that many of her parts were taken in an effort to run away from her life? Hmmm.

    Rick said...

    Just saw Conviction and thought Sam Rockwell was outstanding ... a definite nom

    On the other hand, Swank was good , but certainly not good enough for an nom ... especially with all of the other great female performances this year.

    Michael Parsons said...

    I watched this too last night and found it kind of funny how Swank comes across as so earnest.

    Anonymous said...

    I couldn't wait any longer for Swank to shut up, really. But I've gotta say, I just watched The Kids Are All Right yesterday and I'll be very upset if Natalie loses to Annette, just because of that overdue card. It would be Sandra Bullock all over again.

    Bia said...

    I would have never known about Nicole's track record with great auteurs if it wasn't for this blog. She has a great legacy to leave behind, her work with Kubrick alone is amazing. I don't think anyone in American cinema can touch her in that regard.

    Tatiana said...

    Can you imagine how it would feel to be one of the journalists at that roundtable?? :D Nicole and Natalie are among my favourite actresses!!

    I like Amy Adams too! But is it me or could she really be Isla Fisher's sister?? O_O

    MoStapletonFan said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Billy Held An Oscar said...

    Swank's true talent lies in her ability to blow smoke up her own ass.

    Anonymous said...

    LOL thank goodness they did not invite Paltrow. Her and Swank in the same room would have been too much.

    James I caught that and felt sorry for Kidman's two older kids. She did not come across to be a shy but as a cold.

    Aaron said...

    Helena was by far my favorite...she's freaking hilarious and so unpretentious...just a breath of fresh air and it was cute to see Natalie laughing along with her.

    And I didn't think Natalie acted stupidly...she seemed a bit nervous and timid, but I love her regardless. She seems really down to earth.

    Annette really had some wonderful things to say and she's very smart and insightful...although at times I felt she talked wayyyy too much.

    Nicole is just amazing. Everything that comes out of her mouth is gold.

    Amy was a little reticent and I was kinda bored with her too and didn't really care what she had to say...

    ...and I'm sorry, but Hilary Swank really killed me in this interview. I totally agree that she seems like the kind of person who talks to just to hear her own voice (but thank god for her exchange with Adams about taking the role that Swank lost. It was the only time she was slightly endearing). And I did NOT understand what the hell Hilary was talking about critics/audiences not liking non-linear stories. Was she on something???

    Taylor said...

    As a fellow actressexual, I think I just had an actressgasm.

    I mean, the Milos Forman bits, the marvelous moments when they would call the interviewers on their bullshit (did anyone else want to marry Amy Adams the second she called the interviewer on his baiting?), the anecdotes, the auteur love, the NICOLE, the BENING, UGH. What a wonderful discussion about art and its processes. I'm so happy that these brilliant wonderful women were willing to sit down and share this interview. Made my night.

    Rick said...

    To Billy with an Oscar:

    You made my evening .. with your remark about Swank ... I'm still laughing!!

    Rick said...

    Sorry ... I should have addressed Billy Held an Oscar ...

    Janice said...

    About fifteen minutes in and Nicole is just now about to speak?

    I admit, love or hate, I got a giggle out of Hillary's comment during the "thin people are sad conversation: "meanwhile people are listening to you two (Natalie and Amy) and wondering, what are they talking about?" That was a nice, down-to-earth moment, and yes, exactly what I was thinking.

    Now if only Natalie would stop throwing in "like" randomly, and Hillary would stop saying "yer"...

    Anonymous said...

    Haha, cognitive dissonance from Natalie. According to critics, Goya's Ghost was kind of a bad movie.