Millions of viewers saw what happened inside the Kodak Theatre Sunday night, but only the winners were permitted in the pressroom backstage. Here’s a sampling of what took place during and after the 77th annual Academy Awards:
• Jamie Foxx, talking a mile a minute, was still discussing his daughter, Corinne, as he did onstage when he won his Best Actor Oscar, for Ray. “She’s 11,” he said, “and she said, ‘Dad, after this, can we go to the big awards?’ – which are the Nickelodeon Awards.”
As for he and fellow winner Morgan Freeman being men of color, Foxx said: “The significance is this, the young kids in our community, there are so many negative things we are influenced by – think about our music, (so) why not have something positive and then stamp it with blackness.”
When it comes to color, Foxx concluded, “Just stir it into the pot and make everything better.”
• Million Dollar Baby Best Actress Hilary Swank spoke of the “diligence” and “discipline” of women boxers. “They’re awe-inspiring, actually. A lot of people criticize women boxers, but who are we to criticize? It’s their dream to be women boxers.” Speaking of her own success, Swank said, “You have these ideas and you think, this is what I want to do. I love to act, and can’t think of doing anything else.”
Telling the Kodak crowd that she came from a trailer park, Swank, explained backstage: “I love my humble background and where I came from. It’s given me the opportunity to meet all different kinds of people. It’s just amazing.”
• Swank’s director, Clint Eastwood – a winner for producing and directing Million Dollar Baby – said of the perceived rivalry between him and The Aviator director, Martin Scorsese: “I was a little disappointed when (the press) started a competition between Marty and me, because I have nothing but the greatest respect for him and all the films he’s done through the years, right up to and including The Aviator.” He also mentioned that he did a segment of the PBS special The Blues for Scorsese.
As for being an elder member of the Hollywood community, Eastwood, 74, joked, “Yeah, we’re taking over.” But he did ask the movie financiers to keep “the older crowd in mind.”
• The Aviator Supporting Actress winner Cate Blanchett walked into the pressroom holding her Oscar in one hand – and a glass of champagne in the other. Saying that the great Kate Hepburn was still alive when she accepted the role of the iconic screen star, who then died during filming, Blanchett said: “Her family and close friends have been very generous with me. They seemed pleased (with the final product) and said she’d be pleased. And I believed them.”
She also said that she received a pair of Hepburn’s gloves from Hepburn’s friend (and executor of her estate), ABC newswoman Cynthia McFadden. During production, “I kept one in my purse,” said Blanchett. As for what was going through her mind when her name was called, Blanchett answered, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I was in shock.”
• Backstage, a gracious Morgan Freeman was asked just how long he’s been thinking about winning an Oscar. “It’s kind of tricky,” he admitted. “After Driving Miss Daisy, I became philosophical about the Oscars. It occurred to me that winning the nomination is probably … as far as you can reasonably go. And after that, it’s pretty arbitrary, you know, because, I mean, how can any of us be best? Who can? But when they call your name, all of that goes out the window.
He said he looks upon his Oscar victory as “total acceptance. It’s the best way I can explain an Oscar. Because so many people vote for you when you get it, you know you’re part of a very small group of people.”
Going further, Freeman said that the prospect of two African-American actors – he and Jamie Foxx – both winning Oscars on the same night “means that Hollywood is continuing to make history. Life goes on. Things change. They never stay the same. So we’re evolving with the rest of the world. That’s what it means.”
•Not that it was all seriousness backstage. The Incredibles director Brad Bird, who also voiced the role of Edna Mode in his Best Animated Feature winner, said of Edna’s Oscarcast appearance with 007 star Pierce Brosnan (in Edna’s distinctive voice): “I am the oldest living Bond girl, by the way. But that is all I will say about that.”
• Sideways’ winning screenwriters, Jim Taylor and director Alexander Payne, were asked what they would be drinking to celebrate their quirky wine-connoisseur comedy. Said Taylor: “Tequila.”
•Even Chris Rock showed up backstage, The big question: Would he host the show again? “Who knows if they would want me again,” he said, seriously. “Let’s not assume.” As for what he plans to do the rest of the night: “I’ll be doing drugs.”